The hints which follow here are aimed at making your homecoming a very rewarding one for body and spirit.
Céad Míle Fáilte to you all from this sun-drenched coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way and the festival season in full swing everywhere.
It is also the peak season for the farming communities going crazy to get in their fodder for harsher times ahead. To cap it all, the delighted tourism bosses nationally are bragging that more of you tourists, especially from the United States and Canada, are pouring into our Emerald Isle by the day and holiday hour.
With that in mind, and so many of the old realities drastically mutated and modified by political events all over the globe, MacConnell modestly ventures to suggest that the Irish holiday tips below should be required reading, especially for the many among you making your first trip over to the land of your ancestors.
I write these holiday pieces of advice and tips for you readers at this time every midsummer. They have never been more valid than now.
You could save yourself a lot of woes and worse than that by staying in this space for the next little while. Trust me on that one.
Firstly, the Céad Míle Fáilte is as warm and genuine as ever in the past. We have always delighted in the joys and celebrations of the peak tourist season.
Irish American visitors, especially, because of the blood bonds since the Famine, have always been especially welcomed back to the homeland. The hints which follow here are aimed at making your homecoming a very rewarding one for body and spirit, especially if you are on your first Irish vacation or if it has been a long time since you were on this side of the Wild Atlantic Way years ago.
Getting directly to the holiday hints, and the implications of this accursed Brexit fiasco, be URGENTLY aware that you must NEVER drink and drive during your vacation.
The older police generations are gone from the crossroads now. The new generations of our splendid police, armed with breathalyzers and all the European policing gadgets and devices, have a modern job to do to save lives. They do it courteously but firmly.
If the breathalyzer shows that you have been drinking a few pints during the musical night in the great pub down the road you could easily finish up for at least the rest of the night in the local police station, lose your driving license and the use of your hired car for the duration, and be heavily penalized all round.
We cope with the situation by designating a driver from our group to abstain from alcohol for the night out. That works well generally, and it has to work because taxi services are normally very hard to reach in the remote country areas where, ironically but truly, the pubs with the best music, song, dance and craic generally are to be found.
It is equally a poignant modern rural truth that inhabitants, mainly from the farming community, need to retain their driving licenses for their livelihood, are accordingly fearful in many instances of heading out to their singing pubs at night, stay in homes where they are often living alone, drink more around their bachelor hearths than they would have downed in the pubs which were their social centers all their earlier lives, become depressed and down in themselves. Too many of them, in such situations, are added to an increasing rural suicide level.
Our Transport Minister Shane Ross laid down demanding regulations some years ago to cut the mortality rate on Irish roads. That has paid dividends on the road deaths count, but if one takes the two mortality rates into consideration, those from the hearths and those from the motorways, the picture is not nearly so bright.
All along the Wild Atlantic Way over here, from Donegal to Cork and Kerry, there are for sale signs rusting for years on pubs which were forced to close down because the local singers, dancers and musicians were afraid to take their cars out on the rigidly policed roads any more. The social and communal costs involved are complex and very sad indeed.
Nowadays, if you are on vacation from overseas, it is a poignant truth that the mighty and lively old pubs that have survived this long, with singsongs and craic day and night, are often located along twisting and turning secondary roads miles off those rigidly controlled motorways. You will want to garnish your holiday by enjoying a night or two in one of them with the help of your designated driver for the evening.
This designated driver, especially during daylight hours, must always be aware that farming operations are in full spate, that tractors and trailers and farm plant can explode suddenly out of every field entrance and are a real risk.
So too, later in the evenings, one can very easily be unfortunate enough to add to astonishingly high roadkill of foxes and badgers, very numerous indeed in many areas.
There is also the temptation for visiting motorists on these dangerous small roads to not wish to stay too long behind the slow tractors ahead of them and to take chances to pass them out quickly, often with disastrous consequences.
SLOW DOWN DRIVERS! THOSE TRACTORS ARE ONLY GOING BACK TO THE NEAREST FARMYARD. The old country sages used say that the man that made time made plenty of it!
Finally, and more merrily altogether, when your party reaches the great lively pub that was recommended to you by everybody, you are certain to discover the genuine warmth of those locals gathered there for the craic.
Unlike the old days, you are not expected to buy drinks for the house or tip lavishly. Just relax and enjoy at all and, thank God, official closing time according to the law of the land is unlikely to be rigidly applied if the music and singing and dancing are lively enough for a prime midsummer night.
If you or any of your group are asked to sing a song, then do sing one even if you have a voice related to the crow family. That will be appreciated all round the house.
And don’t be surprised at all, either, if the locals on their high stools are maybe as well informed as your American or Canadian party are about the swirling political events around the White House. They might even be able to tell you the name of their distant cousin who was fired a few evenings ago by your esteemed leader for one reason or another!
That’s about it for now. Enjoy it all and forgive me for repeating the prime advice to all – don’t drink and drive under any circumstances!