I am driving from Sioux Falls back to the Twin Cities with my parents (more on my appointment in my #sciencesunday post this weekend) and my parents are playing Irish folk music and “The Fields of Athenry" comes on. A memory comes back.
October 2011, I was on my post-Peace Corps six month trip through Africa and Europe. I had just arrived via bus to Dublin from Cork. I was excited to see Dublin because I had only been once during my study abroad semester back in 2005, and I had spent the entire weekend in two states – drunk and hungover. This time I was interested in seeing Dublin from a different perspective – i.e. not from the the bottom of a pint glass.
I left my luggage at the hostel and asked about someplace that served dinner and had live music. It was Sunday, so I was expecting a quiet night. I was pointed to a pub down the street. There I ate Shepard’s Pie as the musician set up. Two well-dressed couples in their late 40s-50s stumbled in, already more tanked than one would expect for a Sunday evening. They asked (slurred) if they could sit with me. They were VERY jolly, so of course I said yes. They sat down and revealed the source of their jolliness. They had just come from the baptism of their new grandchild. While I was cautious of getting college-era shitfaced, I of course joined them in a celebratory shot of whiskey in honor of the new baby.
The musician played a mix of traditional Irish ballads and American covers and we had a great time singing along and chatting. I even tolerated their advice on my love life. Irish people can be very blunt and direct in their opinions but they are some of most open and welcoming people I know.
After some hours, the evening ended with an encore from the musician – “The Fields of Athenry.” The couples got up, drunkingly slung their arms around my shoulders and we rocked and sang along to the music.
Six years later, I don't remember their names, but I do remember that night, I went to bed with my heart full.