when Irish eyes are smiling…
This is my father-in-law. Or rather, his hands. Hands that are gingerly holding my Murphy’s, one of the greatest beers I’ve tasted, the pride of County Cork.
When I first met my husband, he asked me where in the world I would want to visit if I could only see one other country. I think he was hoping I would say his country, and I mean of course I wanted to see France! But one country? Just one? Well I told him the truth. Ireland.
It’s hard to explain, without referencing Gone With the Wind, but there is just something so alluring about the idea of visiting a land of your ancestry. The experience is just so… comfortable. Like going home… for the first time, and one can only hope, not the last. My mother’s family comes from County Cork and there we headed in a rental car with my in-laws. What I remember most about the drive from Dublin to Cork was being unabashedly enamored with the rustic landscape and rugged purity of the countryside. That and my father-in-law helpfully calling out “à gauche!” whenever we would casually start veering onto the wrong side of the road.
Despite the fact that my father-in-law could not bring himself to consume more than a half-pint, (“ce n’est pas du vin, mais bon!”) and despite the fact that my mother-in-law was mystified by the lack of bread brought to us with our meals, (“c’est le principe, c’est tout!”) they were incredibly good sports about the entire trip and managed to have a smashing time.
Once in Cork we were given many suggestions by various eager-to-pleasers of where to go for a good pint. Genuine as they were, we were looking for something a little more off the beaten path. Finally we encountered a man who looked as far from anyone affiliated with the tourism industry as we’d hope to meet, and he pointed us toward a darkened, sketchy looking street just behind us. “There’s a pub there?” He swore by it, and if I know anything about my own inherent stubbornness, I knew not to question him further.
As we neared the direction he’d pointed, we heard the muffled sound of jamming, coupled with a dull light and finally a warmth compelling us to enter. Inside, we quickly took in our surroundings. It looked like any other Irish pub. And I say that as a great compliment. It was an unpretentious, beautifully run-of-the-mill place that is exactly what I was looking for.
There we enjoyed Beamish and live music until closing time.
My taste of Ireland was the tip of the foam, and I’m certain I’ll be back for another swig. “After all, tomorrow is another day!”