The West's Awakeby Cormac MacConnell
- Looking forward to cutting ties to the ties that bind my throttle
- Bishop Eamon Casey served us well, and deserves our prayers
- A lovely tale of island life in the paradise of West Clare
- The Boarding Out orphan was a wonderful pick
- How do the Irish regard their American visitors? With pride
The barman does mysterious things with tweezers over the goblet with a slice of lime, so the juice drops on the ice below and on the rim of the glass. Then he adds about three shots from the bottle of gin and pours in a large volume of lemon-colored tonic water.
That is my first gin and tonic in the lovely Spanish city of Bilbao. I sip it in the sun-drenched pavement cafe area outside. I'm relishing a cigarette from a pack that costs half as much as back in Ireland. So too the gin and tonic.
A slight breeze ruffles my silvery locks and beard, and I smile out at the whole passing world. My summer meanderings have well and truly begun, and will continue for as long as the season lasts. Don't expect yarns from the darker recesses of the Celtic ethos from me until the ember days come again.
When the pub singsong was cresting towards high summertime enjoyment the other night, I was feeling in mighty form altogether when I was called upon for my song. It was for that reason I put back my ears and let them have the full-blooded version of "Carrickfergus."
Never offend an Irish family. Our memories are too long and vindictive.
Alchemy? I am going to tell all the many among you readers who were born in the Irish countryside how to shed all the decades between where you are now and when you were nine years old or even younger, all the hurts and pains and learnings that lay ahead when you were that age.
This time every year I think of those of you planning a trip to my country for the first time, and try to offer a few helpful hints.
Much of my advice does not change from year to year, notably advising that you stay as close to the west coast as possible for as long as possible, slow down your clock, and don't try to "do" all of Ireland in four days, three hours and 16 minutes.