“To the man above, it’s not often I seek your assistance, but please hear me out on this one. You see, I am two weeks shy of getting married and it would be an awful shame if this budding bride arrived at the beautiful church in Killarney, County Kerry to meet her future husband looking like a DROWNED RAT.
“Please God, can you get out your stopper and put it to use on December 5, even if it’s only for an hour, pretty please. I’ll go to Mass every Sunday for a year!”
For years I’ve been asking friends who returned to Ireland what they found most difficult about settling back into the old country. There are always two answers – money and the weather.
Granted, I understood the money issue. Even when the Celtic Tiger was roaring loudly returning emigrants found it difficult to save.
“There is always money in your pocket in America,” were the sentiments echoed over and over again.
But when they began to complain about the rain I used to shake my head and say, “But you grew up in Ireland, you should be well used to it by now.”
And when I arrived on Irish soil three weeks ago I wondered what all the fuss was about. It was a beautiful crisp morning in Shannon, despite the forecasted thunderstorms. And the following two days were even more beautiful.
By the Wednesday the rain had returned but it was light showers. Granted, the showers lasted all day and night and continued into Thursday and Friday and ….
But for the first week I didn’t care. Sure I grew up with this weather. Wasn’t I used to it?
After 10 solid days of rain my patience began to run thin. Was it ever going to stop?
Well, it hasn’t!
I now have to apologize one by one to all my friends who returned to Ireland and complained about the rain. It is well justified. It just keeps coming and coming.
However, despite the constant downpours, Irish life goes on. It has to, I suppose.
It doesn’t rain as often in New York, but when it does it almost has the city at a standstill.
On many occasions the Metro North train from Woodlawn in the Bronx to Grand Central would run very late or may have been suspended because of flooding. Parkways needed to be shut down and schools were closed early. Life stood still in New York, but not in Ireland.
The rain didn’t stop one of Tralee’s biggest court cases from taking place last Friday in which 16 members of four traveling families were sentenced to varying degrees of jail time for feuding with each other.
In fact, some of the families of those being sentenced didn’t even use umbrellas when they snuck around the back of the courthouse to chat with their incarcerated loved ones.
“What did the judge say, Francis?” shouted a busty blonde carrying a young baby in her arms through the stone bricks of the courthouse.
They weren’t even wearing rain jackets. I guess they were used to such weather.
As I returned from the pet shop, umbrella over my head (I was purchasing frog food for my friend’s new pets in Boston), the busty blonde was still shouting through the brick and mortar of Tralee’s district court, and although I couldn’t make out the answers Francis was giving her they weren’t good.
The “f” bomb was dropped several times, and as she handed the young baby to what could have been her brother she slammed both her fists against he brick walls shouting, “They don’t know what the f*** they are talking about. We’ll get you out soon.”
I later discovered that the jail cells are located at the back of the courthouse and it was a common occurrence to see families of those up in court shouting through the walls into the cells, even in the rain.
Despite the downpours people still visited the Muckross Park Gardens in Killarney in their droves two weeks ago. Albeit Irish families (foreign tourists were nowhere to be seen), they walked together around the gravel paths that lead to secret gardens and stunning lakes.
A sea of umbrellas could be seen from a distance and nobody was fazed. The rain wasn’t going to hinder their mini-vacation. After all, they probably couldn’t afford to go abroad anymore, so visiting one of Kerry’s most beautiful sights was going to be an enjoyable experience whatever elements came at them.
The rain didn’t stop college students around Ireland graduating with various certificates, diplomas and degrees last week. I attended the graduation of a deaf friend of mine at the Cork Institute of Technology, and it was a very proud day for her and her family.
Niamh, my friend, has been trying hard for eight years to achieve a higher certificate in business and finally passed all her required exams this year, so when she woke up on Friday morning to the dirty clouds in the sky it didn’t dampen her spirits one bit.
I may have thrown a few curses away as I drove from Tralee to Cork (about two hours) in the pelting rain (roads in Ireland are too small for the amount of rain we get), but upon arriving in Cork, umbrella in tow, I forgot about the weather and had a wonderful time sharing in the achievements of Niamh.
And the weather certainly didn’t stop the Limerick people from coming out in their thousands on Saturday night to support some of their local boys, including New York-based Andy Lee, who beat European Union middleweight champion, Affif Belghecham, in a great boxing fight at the University of Limerick.
While there was a break in the weather for a few hours before the fight, giving people a chance to get to the university bone dry (with straight hair in my case), Lee’s win was marred with the heavens opening up once again.
But no one was bothered. Their local hero won his fight so who cared. It was a joyous occasion, one for celebration, so boxing fans headed in various directions to do just that.
I did hear, though, that one of the bars in town had its beer garden opened to welcome the boxers after the fight but rain drove them to another bar across town.
And the rain hasn’t stopped yours truly from enjoying every minute of her time at home in Ireland, even if an umbrella is a fixed feature in my handbag these days. I may have to give up straightening my hair every morning and pack away my suede shoes until I return to New York in January, but I will come to terms with it. When, though, is another question.
“So, Lord, you may see why it’s important to put a plug in it for
December 5. You may, if you wish, direct the rain across the Atlantic to New York for that day. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind in the slightest, and in the meantime could you have a word with my future husband and tell him as a wedding present I’d love a Prada umbrella! I’ll get more use out of it than a pair of earrings.”