Dec 22 2011

CHRISTMAS IN IRELAND

Updated From the Best of Hal’s Christmastime Business Posts . . . 

A toy truck, a stroller,

                                            

and pub coasters

                                          

strung with dental floss…

                                                                                                                        

                                                                                 

A few years ago, on a re-visit trip to Ireland, Kathy and I –romanticized by the classic Bing Crosby Christmas song, “Christmas In Killarney”– spent our first Christmas away from home at Killarney Country Club.

                                                       

 Up a rocky, grass-between-the-tires dirt road from downtown Killarney, jockeying “the wrong side” car controls to bounce cheerfully along between the endless stone walls that separated farm from farm and cows from sheep, we drove under a brick archway and into an historic-looking brick complex that held captive about three dozen two-story townhouses.

There was one other car at the far end. We parked and followed the “Office” arrow. We found a smiling, green-eyed, freckled face and bubbling thick Irish accented young lady at the office counter. We registered and unpacked. We were shown to a spacious two-bedroom upstairs arrangement with living room and kitchen downstairs. Our windows overlooked the property’s main courtyard and pathway to the Country Club Pub.

It seems when I think back that (after the first day of dealing with the one other car’s occupants — a rude tourist family of six that commandeered the odd three-feet-deep indoor pool), we were actually the only guests there for the rest of the (Christmas) week.

We made the trek into town everyday, a beautiful, historic, bustling hub filled with happy holiday shopping locals, who seemed to visit a shop or two, then stop in a pub, then visit a shop or two, then stop in a pub . . . you get the idea. And we drove hundreds of miles of picturesque unspoiled (and unlittered) countryside during the week, meeting only pleasant, accommodating-to-a-fault natives all along the way.

Night driving seemed a bit perilous, so we opted for evening visits to the Country Club Pub (the alternative was staying in our unit with three tv stations, two of which were German!). The only Christmas tree we could find ($45 American) made Charlie Brown’s look like Rockefeller Plaza. Our scruffy pine was about 30 inches tall and had about 16 (or maybe it was 14?) scrawny branches.

We had no ornaments, but confiscated a wide range of cardboard pub coasters in our travels, punched small holes in each with a fork, and strung them up with pieces of dental floss. A homemade aluminum foil star found its way to the top. We stuffed two ”Season’s Greetings”-scrawled plastic shopping bags with small sofa pillows and hung them in our windows.

We grocery-shopped for the all-time elaborate brunch of Irish rasher (bacon), eggs, cheese, jam, butter, toast, fruit, crackers, caviar, coffee, tea–  and a bottle of asti that (being entrenched deep in beer and ale country, cost 11 gazillion dollars American) tasted a lot better than it was.

We exchanged gifts we had bought the day before, walking down opposite sides of the downtown, waving in between passing cars, trucks, buses, pedestrians, and shopfronts, a book for me, a piece of Irish crystal and a little stuffed Irish Christmas Bear for her, plus some other goodies. It was great fun and everyone wished everyone Merry Christmas!!

Every minute we spent there was great, even when fifteen native Killarney guys had us singing with them (at the Country Club Pub where they’d hiked to by flashlight from their nearby farms) until 3am which led us to the hilarious discovery that no one there had ever even heard of the Crosby song, “Christmas In Killarney”!!! (I tried to sing it and they all looked at one another like I was from Mars.)

With the rows of “y’got ta finish dem” topped-off pints of beer and ale lined up from one end of the bar to the other, planted there when 11:15pm closing time came, it ultimately mattered not that anyone heard of any song as long as you sang. And sing we did! When Kathy was asked to present a song, she sang “Zippity, Do-da, Zippity-A…” which brought the house down.

So much for that, but it was a wonderful experience. Just one thing was missing. Family. We spent half the afternoon trying to phone home, with circuit connections going from where we were on Ireland’s West Coast, to Northern Ireland, to Boston, to Florida, to New York, to the clan in New Jersey who sounded like they were in a tunnel.

It made us realize that all the happiness of the week there was momentarily lost to being lonesome for family. We managed to bounce back after that when the resort manager and his wife (who we suspect might have been listening in to our phone connection efforts) invited us to their home for a Christmas drink. 

We got to see the doll baby stroller Santa brought for their daughter. (Last Christmas, Santa brought the doll!). I think their son got a toy truck. One single present each and those children were in heaven! Uh, it might be worth repeating that: “One single present each and those children were in heaven!”

That certainly gave us cause for pause. We in America are blessed with so much, and family is, well, what Christmas is all about now, isn’t it? It was a Christmas of great learning that stayed with us.

I truly hope for you that you enjoy what you have today, and not take any of it for granted.

Oh, one last thing: Please remember to God Bless Our Troops for their eternal vigilance that grants us the freedom we have to celebrate this joyous day and season! Enjoy!

 Peace be to you.

                        

The original of this Christmas story appeared on 12/25/08 on this blog site.

                               

God Bless You One And All

And Merry Christmas To You!

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Hal@Businessworks.US   302.933.0116

Open  Minds  Open  Doors

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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