I was heading to my gate (at the airport, not like at the entrance of a home) when the greatest sound to ever grace me with its melodic presence filled my ears.
The Irish lilt.
I identified those who were unfurling lyrics of heaven from their mouths and followed them on their way. (Not in a stalker way mind; they were actually on my flight, thus we were headed to the same gate). As I rose up on the last stair and saw the esculating line of my passenger peers alongside me (take the steps over lifts whenever able is my motto) it suddenly sunk in: I’M GOING TO FUCKING IRELAND, AND I’LL BE THERE IN AN HOUR!
(OK, hour twenty, maybe thirty, by the time we’ve boarded and what not).
The frisson of excitement that ran through my bod was like a thunderbolt of the best feeling ever.
When I was in fifth form back in my Bara dog days, the first half year curriculum set Irish history as our term 1 and 2 topic. What the flying fuck, I remember thinking. Irish history? Why on earth out of all the countries in the world would that be of subject?
I fell in love with it. (Seems to be a commonality with me and countries, doesn’t it?).
But seriously. Home Rule. Eamon de Valera. Micahel Collins. The IRA. The IRB. Bloody Sunday. It enthralled me. So much aggression, contestation, polarising viewpoints, all declared in the most beguiling accent in all the lands.
(I’m going to give you a succinct rundown of it all at a later date. Especially that of the Easter Uprising, the event of which is celebrating its 100th anniversary today in fact. I fly in just in time to parade about with a shamrock and engage with a pint of Guiness. I know you’re green with envy). (I’ll be green in pretend patriotism – claiming Ireland as my own for the week).
And the love affair for the Emerald Isle was furthered even more so when I came across my pivotal and inspiring muse, Marian Keyes. And her collection of characters, especially Fintan and Tara, the Walsh sisters, Lola, Grace, Aisling and Lisa. (I actually wrote mate Marian a letter before I left begging her to perhaps reply if she was having a read aloud or a public appearance or anything during the days I’d be in Dublin. Alas, no response as yet. But I’m not giving up hope; I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for her and “Himself”). (Plus, from clues garnered in her more auto-centred novels, I think I could play the detecting journalist and figure out the area in which she lives). (Again, not in a stalkerish way. In a more “I-want-to-meet-you-and-have-you-sign-my-arm-with-a-tattoo-gun-way”). (OK, I concede: slightly hawkerish).
Back to the present. (Because going to Ireland is the best gift I could ever give myself).
As I was lining up to board, a couple behind me started having a yarn. I honestly closed my eyes in intoxication. The next few days is going to be brimming with this, I delighted. Then I turned around and asked them to continue chatting as I was loving listening to their lilt. So we threaded along for a bit, them telling me of their flit to France and then the Swiss Alps for some skiing. It sounded like the most beautiful thing any one has ever said to me.
As we set upon the stairwell to the outside to board the plane (RyanAir mate, none of this enclosed tunnel get-on), I saw an elderly lady in front of me was struggling to manouvere down her wheely suitcase. “Here, let me,” I offered.
“Ooch you’re a pet,” she thanked me. And I was introduced to my first case of the quintessential Irish mammy, Audrey.
I kept engaging her in speech as I was mesmerised by her vocab. It was Marian’s pages come alive in this woman’s, “I’m just after seeing my daughter settle in Cambridge” and, “Oh eiye, tanks for your ‘elp”.
I feel like all these blog posts are fully just Harry Potter-esque as I am constantly spellbound.
As I took my seat, the pilot crackled over the loudspeaker. I couldn’t understand a word. His accent was so thick and deliciously dreamy, he could have been telling us the planes wings had fallen off and we were unable to fly and I’d have happily sat strapped in just to hear it over and over. Then a crowd of rowdy Irishmen clambered on board singing sweet songs about comradeship and what not. It was music to my ears. (And I felt like I was on board with a bunch of Uncle Rick Moloneys).
We landed soon after we took off and I signalled to new mate Mammy Audrey that I’d gather her suitcase from the overheard compartment for her and carry it down the stairs.
It was blowing a gale with rain pelting down as we descended down the steel (steel?) steps, and at the bottom she hooked her arm through mine. “You’re a gem Pappy,” she announced. “You go minding after y’self in Dublin, yeh promise?”
I promised and received a pat on the forearm in return.
So Dublin. I don’t actually know exactly what I’m going to do here, I’m just winging it really. (As I also was on the plane, what with my window seat being right on the wing. Always the wing!). (Usually I’m rather partial to the aisle what with a quick escape on landing able but on this occasion I was so so pumped to view the sprawling – well, I’ve heard it’s actually pretty compact – city of Dublin below through my A4 window).
(Insert: weather conditions were completely cloudy. And I mean surrounded in the cotton ball condensation. Fingers were crossed for a clear so I could see the land as we landed, and someone must’ve been listening as the fog yielded dominance and allowed me my first look at the Land of Saints and Scholars).
But anyway. It just so happens that a gal pal from uni and her boyf are also in Dublin for the centennial shennanighans, so I am meeting them tonight for a pint (or a couple). And a girl I played netball for the five years I was at Baradene resides there, so we’re going to try team up tomorrow. As well I’m going to get my walking tour on, maybe do a few day trips and – of course – just sit and listen to Irish lads and lasses and their lilt.
For now I’m just buzzing out that I’m in areas where Marian Keyes herself has stood (though I highly doubt she ever queued in the non EU passport line, and something tells me she wouldn’t have caught the Airbus to Grafton Street in a fair few years).
The lad at immigration chuckled at my giddy glee at being in Ireland. We held up the line as he told me of the best burger bar to go to and asked of my plans of the future. But he obviously deemed me for approval, and sealed it with what is now my favourite stamp in my passport pages.
Go Dublin agus a aimsiú KEYES marian!
(Translation: To Dublin and finding my Marian!).