Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ireland- Day 2, Part 2 Carrick-on-Shannon/The Thatch

Apart from loving staying with Gene due to its proximity to the Thatch, I am loving it because I’m really getting a peek into Gene’s life and enjoying being in his company.

Yesterday afternoon I accompanied Gene for some errands. There’s a matchmaker coming to the pub on October 20th and he wanted to make copies of a flyer to hang around some of the B&Bs. So we went into town to put an announcement in the paper and then stopped by the copy shop. From there the plan was to go round and ask some of the B&Bs to put them up. But as is often the case with Gene (I’m learning), he got a different idea in his head and we ditched putting up the signs at the B&Bs and decided to run home, change and go for a walk instead.

There are so many beautiful places to go for a walk around Carrick-on-Shannon. So many lakes. And it’s a beautiful time of year. It’s the crisp cool fall weather that I love and miss from growing up in New Hampshire. I forget where Gene took me exactly, I’ll have to ask him the name of it, but it’s around where he grew up as a wee lad. It was late afternoon and we took full advantage of being in a beautiful forest surrounded by the lake and the River Shannon.

It was quiet and peaceful and exactly how I had hoped to be spending some of my time in Ireland. After the walk, Gene took me to the town he grew up in, Drumsna. We got out and walked around some more. I took photos and just smiled. Smiled at the reality of being in this little village with Gene as he pointed out what things used to be and what memories he had from growing up. We stopped outside the market and Gene pointed to the older woman working there. When Gene was about 5 years old, he fell off his bike and she scooped him up and brought him to the hospital to have it stitched up.

“See?” he said as he pulled up his pant leg and showed me the scar to back up his story. We didn’t stop in to say hi because “we’d be stuck there forever catching up.” So we continued to explore and walk around the town before heading back to the house.

Once we got home, Gene set about cooking dinner- place (a kind of fish I’d never had before), potatoes (“A day without potatoes is a day wasted for me” Gene said) and peas. Gene goes out to eat once every three months. He thinks going out to eat is for people who don’t know how to cook or love to waste money. (I didn’t tell him how frequently I go out to eat).

After finishing the meal, we set into our routine of Gene reading the paper and me doing the dishes. It’s ridiculous how comfortable I feel in his company and I’m so appreciative of his generosity: “You’re practically family, I can’t charge you to stay here.” It was a very simple afternoon and evening together, but I’m sure Gene had plenty of other things he could do (like fish, golf, be with his girlfriend or be in his boat) and I appreciated him wanting to be in my company just as much as I wanted to be in his.

Before long, it was after 9pm and I headed over to the Thatch. Wednesdays are when they do traditional Irish music sessions and I knew I’d get to see some of my favorite people who frequent the pub- Stripey Mike, Deasun, Jim, Gorgeous George. And I knew that it’d be a fun night.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to how late things get going here. By 9pm I easily could have gone to bed for the night. But instead, it’s when I was just getting started!

As predicted, it was a wonderful night filled with great music, great friends, great memories and great photos. I had a smile I couldn’t wipe off my face all night. There’s something about this place that fills me with such happiness. It’s a combination of so many wonderful things that I feel overwhelmed sometimes when I’m there.

There were two Austrian men who were on holiday fishing in town and they came out for some craic. They’d never been to the Thatch before but were up for some fun. One of them, a man named Joseph who drank so much he ended up outside for nearly 30 minutes with his head between his legs, decided to pick up the bohdran and join the music session. The only problem was he was terrible and acted as if he were playing a regular drum. He kept pounding and pounding and pounding the thing and annoying some of the musicians. One of them, a kind soul Mick who friended me on Facebook long before I met him in person for the first time last night, was getting so visibly annoyed that at the next break between songs, I went up to Joseph and asked if he’d give me a turn.

Mick and all the other musicians were visibly relieved that I had done that. But in the process, I was forced to actually try and play the thing! Proving myself to be smarter than my Austrian friend, I asked Mick for pointers and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I didn’t suck! I was grateful to have Mick beside me and show me the way. Before Mick went home for the night, I asked if he’d come into the Thatch a little early next week and give me a lesson. He agreed J

Apart from playing music, I also played the role of bartender for a couple of hours. It’s always a trip to be pulling pints and making Irish coffee, chatting up the locals, taking the money and giving them change, and finding myself so happy and comfortable behind the bar. I have no doubt that I’d be there every single day if I actually lived nearby. I’d happily keep the place going and work for free!

I don’t even know how many Irish coffees I made. Enough for us to run out of cream and whip up another batch. And to have to be creative with what glasses I was using. But it was great fun and by the end of the night as I made one for Gene and one for me, I was content to sit there and listen to Gene close out the night with some more fiddle playing.

After tidying up the pub the best we could under the influence, I crawled into bed sometime after 3am and settled in for a good night’s sleep with a wonderful soundtrack of music and fun running through my head.


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