Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 12. Carrick-on-Shannon

Today very well could have been my most favorite day of my trip so far. (Relax, Amy. The Ireland part!)

I stayed in bed until 5pm! I skipped breakfast. I skipped lunch. I sat inside my room, in the comfort of my twin bed and I read. I napped. I caught up on personal emails. It was delightful and wonderful and just as relaxing as my body wanted and needed!

I'm still dragging. My body is still tired. I'm still coughing. Despite the antibiotics, cough medicine with codeine and two different kinds of inhalers I was prescribed in addition to the flu shot I was given, my body has seem to resisted it all. Which is so weird with all the Guinness, whiskey, chicken fingers and french fries I've been eating.

I know this environment isn't conducive to repairing your health. I get that. But I also don't come here to lay in bed all day and nap and read and relax. I'll try and get to that when I get home.

But for now, I'll take the one day that I used to try and start that process and love it forever.

Dramatic much? Yes. I know!

I have a bad habit of getting sad about things ending before it actually happens. So, with my last night at the Thatch just hours away, I found myself getting a little bummed out about it. In previous years, I've only had one night at the Thatch. I've smartened up over the years by building my trips around two visits. But this year I was super smart and had four nights at the Thatch. That has definitely eased the pain. And increased my love for this place and all the wonderful people who fill its quaint walls.

I went to the Thatch after going in to town to finally get something to eat and join the land of the living. And, as my usual routine, I parked my car back at Evelyn's B&B and made the short walk over to the Thatch.

I forgot that tonight the Thatch was hosting a young woman's fiddle/violin playing group. Gene offered the Thatch as a venue for these young girls to play their first bit of live music in front of a crowd. And the place, at 8pm, was more packed than I had ever seen it! I stood outside the door trying desperately to find a good time to cut in between songs, but I just couldn't find the right moment to go through the doors. Luckily, someone opened the door to have me come in.

It was funny to see the Thatch filled with so many people. I went straight to the bar to say hello to Percy and we talked about how good (or how bad) some of the young musicians were. Percy wondered how long they'd go on for and I just sat there amused at his attitude.

Around 9pm or so, most of the girls stopped playing and it smoothly transitioned into a trad session. There was lots of music, lots of drinking, some dancing and a heck of a lot of fun.

At one point, Gene announced that it was my birthday and made me come to the center of the pub to take an adorable bouquet of red carnations from him. The pub broke out singing happy birthday to me and Gene pronounced I had to sing a song or give a speech. Clearly not drunk enough to sing, I reluctantly took the floor and talked about how I met Gene- nearly 10 years earlier in a pub in Doolin and that our friendship really took off six years later when Steve and I showed up for our honeymoon at the Thatch. I talked about how much I loved this place. How happy it made me and how connected I felt to my father's love of our Irish heritage.

A lot of times when I show up at the Thatch, the locals question why I love it so much. They're skeptical that this girl from California comes all the way to Carrick-on-Shannon to this pub. Clearly believing there are more exciting places to be, I implored everyone in my moment in the spotlight on the floor of the pub, to remember how unusual places like this are. It may be their local pub, and they may have the great pleasure of being able to come every Wednesday night for the craic and music, but that it's more unique than they could ever know.

I wanted them to understand how lucky they are to have this place- and to remember that, because the rest of us are not as lucky to have a place they can go to regularly that's so filled with life and fun and lasting memories.

After that, the night started to wind down (for most of the people anyway)! I, of course, stayed behind until the very end of the night. I talked with Huey (Evelyn's son) and Stripey Mike (a friend I met on last year's trip who hit it off with ERF in March), another friend of Gene's who was buying me beers throughout the night and Gene.

Gene disappeared at one point and came back with two cards- one from Percy (who snuck out at some point and I didn't get to have a proper goodbye with him) and one from Lindsay- who reached out to Gene via email, got his mailing address, and sent a card to his house for my birthday. Beyond sweet and thoughtful! Thank you, Lindsay! While opening those cards, Gene ran into his house again, came back and said "I'm not a card man" and handed me the most adorable piece of Belleek Irish pottery. A little cottage that he said was in his grandmother's house. The thoughtfulness was too much to take and I'll tell ya, I will cherish that gift for the rest of my life.

Here are some of the best photos from the night. From the very beginning through the end:

And then here's my favorite picture of the night. It perfectly captures Gene's infectious and contagious smile and energy, the happiness I can't hide from being at the Thatch and Stripe Mike's obnoxiously hilarious intrusion:

From November 11, 2011

It was a fabulous night at the Thatch. A perfect way to end my stay in Carrick-on-Shannon and a wonderful opportunity to get to know Gene, Percy and everyone else better. And while I was definitely sad, it helped that I had hot whiskey and Guinness to fool my emotions so I could get safely home and in bed (after some fun FaceTime sessions with my sisters and lover back home).

Goodnight Thatch. Thank you Gene!


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