How My American Grandfather Embraced His Irish Roots!
Having spent most of my life in the country I’ve found that there are two different Irelands - the authentic one I’ve fell in love with and the artificial one that is sold to people who are willing to empty their pockets. We love tourists, as whether you’re living in a small town like Ennis or a city like Galway they’ve become part of your environment bringing their kindness and interest in our culture. Unfortunately, the world has become inaundated with a false idea of what Ireland is really like. People flock to Dublin for overpriced plastic products when they should go somewhere like Ennis, County Clare to get an authentic view of the country. So this is exactly what I did when my grandfather Patrick from Massachusets told me he’d be coming to Ireland to rekindle his old flame, Ireland. As many Americans from the East Coast of America, he has Irish roots and identifies as a hard drinkin’, fun lovin’ Irish man. How else would I put that to the test than bringing him around to Cruises’ Pub & Bistro in Ennis, Ireland?Wild Atlantic Way which begins very close to Ennis, of course! But no matter the quality of your camera, the experiences found in these timeless photographs would eventually fade from memory far faster than a night on the Guinness in Ennis town. For all the minutes and hours neither of us can recollect from the night, it’s an experience he’ll take with him beyond the grave.
So how did we begin the day? By taking it easy. He’d need to save his energy for the dancing, of course. So we went for a bite to eat at my favorite local restaurant, YOLO’s. While Ireland isn’t the same culinary haven that Italy or France are, I can tell you there are many restaurants in Ennis that would make satisfied tastebuds salivate. And salivate we did as those soups and sandwhiches approached our table after a short wait. With our talking done and our appetites met we decided to take a walk to the top of the town to meet a dear friend of mine, Ollie. What better way to experience the history of Ennis (and keep from me having to constantly make small talk) than to join one of Ollie’s Tours? Along the way we learned about lost romances, old churches and high kings until the sun began to set.
Lots of walking took some energy out of Patrick but you can’t quell an Irish man’s appetite for craic. After 6PM in Ennis the town seems ready to burst with the sounds of trad music, laughter and dance, craic agus ceoil. Into Cruises we went! I told my grandfather to pick any seat he liked - that being as close to the trad music as he could get. I grabbed us two of the finest pints of Guinness ever poured and sat in the opposite seat. His eyes were full of adoration for the men and women of all ages playing music with various Irish instruments. His favorite was the bodhrán - an instrument that can be easily picked up and learned but still manages to make a harmonious, beautiful sound. I got upset - the man had barely noticed the Guinness I paid for him! After letting him know he’d better be prepared for round two, he took his first sip and… With pupils dilated, he let out a roaring laugh! He couldn’t believe it. He’s in the middle of the same stories his own old man used to tell him as a child. The night could have ended there and it’d have still been a milestone but rest assured it did not.
Round three and the night started to pick up. The pub was packed with people hungry for a night of craic agus ceoil and Ennis does it better than no other. Faces familiar and not were lined up for a pint of stout. Even at his old age, Patrick was clapping and stomping his feet like a man half his age. The lovely bartenders took a liking to this older American man embracing his Irish heritage and approached the musicians with a query. Could this wide-grinning man take a slap at the bodhrán? Whether it was the pint or the electric energy of the room, he got up to play the bodhrán in this session and he loved every minute of it. All eyes were on the man of the hour, the black sheep so lovingly embraced by everyone. In Ennis, we love to let a tourist take a shot at the musical instruments so the room made sure to give him all their support. Feet were being stomped, people were clapping their hands and glasses were being raised to my own grandfather.
The rest of the night is a blur. In Ennis, everyone buys a pint for new friends so needless to say we were both… A wee bit tipsy as we say here. We spent the rest of our time going to the nearby attractions like the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren but seeing my own grandfather bouncing around with a bodhrán? That’s a “Kodak Moment” you can’t get anywhere else.