If seeing more of Ireland is not a viable pastime, then my efforts these past two months have certainly been in vain. I continue to check off the places I’ve visited on the large map of Ireland I have hanging in my room (now equipped with highlighted borders of the counties, as not many Irish will take you seriously if you don’t know where their home county is located. As I try desperately to become increasingly Irish, the acceptance of the natives seems a prerequisite to my eventual success). The beginning of February brought the Mitchell’s out for that refreshing burst of America, as we all met in Galway for the Super Bowl — yet this time, sadly, without the interludes of multimillion dollar commercials. A few weeks later brought me to Sligo for a weekend Ultimate Frisbee tournament. Apparently I don’t understand the rules of Ultimate. As multiple teams pointed out to me, often without much patience, any body contact at all during a match is a foul in Ultimate. I did not like this rule. I chose to ignore this rule.
To my great joy, our Mitchell trip to Limerick a few weeks later coincided with the beginning of salmon season on the River Shannon. Armed with a single fly rod, our army of eager fishermen braved the treacherous banks of the “man-eating” River Shannon in hopes of catching that night’s dinner. Mr. Buckley, Coelius, Thibodeaux and I seized that river by the throat — that is, it almost swallowed me whole — and pulled out eight of the largest salmon Ireland has ever seen. But because we had decided that 110 euros was too much to pay for a fishing license, we begrudgingly threw back all of our prize catches. We’d of course show you all the triumphant pictures, but our cameras naturally self imploded.
The week after Limerick gave me the opportunity to travel the northwest of Ireland, County Donegal and beyond. Having my brother arrive in for a week vacation awarded me great company on this trip, especially since his “real-world” job financed our rental car. The highlight of our trip was sharing pints with Dr. Philip Murray, an avid collector of Ireland’s most famous literary masters. An impromptu stop at his residence left me speechless as I fingered through signed, first-edition prints of the likes of Heaney and Beckett. I just hope Dr. Murray thinks he merely misplaced his signed copy of Waiting for Godot.
Although my knowledge before I arrived of the Northern Ireland Peace Process inclined me to believe that progress was consistently being made, I have become cynical of it its development. Namely, recent actions have reinforced the notion that transparency of political parties in Northern Ireland is still a distant hope, at least for Sinn Fein. Although it seems much of their actions have simply veiled a continued agenda of organized crime and intimidation, I have particular disdain for Sinn Fein’s unethical offer to the McCartney family. A positive of this transpiring, however, may be more attention paid to the peace process from Washington.
I look forward to heading home next week for a quick respite with friends as we spend the weekend in Camden, South Carolina for their annual horserace, the Carolina Cup. The sure to be fun weekend will be focused on the memory of Chris Elser, a great friend who called Camden, as well as its race grounds, his home.