Sometimes it’s not only the grand, overwhelming moments that make your eyes burn with grateful tears and your chest ache from stolen breath. I guess that’s what I learned this Easter in Ireland.
Within a few minutes Fungie appeared, and we headed toward him, a few other tour boats following in our wake. For a while he eluded us, as if in a game of catch me if you can. After all, he was dubbed Fungie because, according to the first fishermen who encountered him, he is a “fun guy.”
I’ve never been one to shirk Paddy’s Day. Year after year I’ve met it square on, as if daring this, Bacchus’s favorite holiday, to best me. I’ve made some fine memories along the way…but nothing could quite prepare me for Paddy’s Day in Dingle.
I met a leprechaun tonight. Or a faerie. Or, a sprite, perhaps. Or maybe it was just an ordinary woman that this magical country sent to me, with a message. But I don’t quite believe that. There was too much enchantment in our exchange.
This place, it’s enough to break your heart open wide, as wide as the endless-seeming vistas that unspool from the highest hills here, falling away slowly, past sheep and heather and little else, dropping down slowly, so slowly, to the silver shores of the sea. It’s a land that urges you to look upon it with the long, lingering glances of a besotted lover, intent on searing its image into your soul, lest you never look upon it again.
The sky is the shade of worn denim – not quite as brilliant as robin’s egg blue, but a hopeful sign of spring and summer yet to come. The sun shines brightly, its warmth bringing the citizens of Dingle to the street; they saunter here and there, their smiles echoing mine. On the soft breeze drifts the scent of the sea, different now, more strongly redolent of salt, a washed-clean smell.
Even the Irish know how absolutely mad, epically weird, twisted like a candy cane in a five-year old’s mouth Wren’s Day is. They kept asking me, friends and strangers, over and over, “Have you ever seen anything like it?”
Turns out, the big man who been singing to me was Brian Cowen, who until last year served as Ireland’s Taoiseach – the Irish prime minister. About three minutes passed before I’d managed to wrangle him into posing for a photo with me. We hung out for awhile after that, drinking our pints as we chatted about where I was from and what I was doing in Dingle and whether or not I’d ever actually be able to leave.