Thursday, April 16, 2009

It Rains in Ireland. Honest!

A number of years ago, my good Irish wife and I were on a short holiday out to the West of this country. As I remember, we ended up in County Donegal, amid rolling hills and breathtaking mountains, and when - after a long stroll - it began to rain, we decided to take shelter in a local hostelry.

'Let's duck in here,' I said to my wife. 'We'll get out of the wet and have a pint at the same time.' She was more than agreeable, so that's precisely what we did.

The small bar room was packed with tourists, as it turned out. And most of those tourists happened to be fellow Americans. I sidled up to the bar and bought a couple of pints. Then as I waited for my Guinness to settle, a woman from California made her way up to me. She was soaked to the skin; her hair was a matted mess. Water dripped down her face. I handed her a bar towel.

'Do you live here?' she asked me as she dried her face.

'Well, I live on the other side of the country, out in County Meath. That's about 200 miles from here.'

She eyed me suspiciously for a moment. 'You don't sound Irish.' 'I'm not,' I said. 'I'm an American. But I've lived here for some time now.'

'You have?' Pretty eyes rolled in her head. 'But why? We've been here for ten days. Look at it outside.'

I looked. It was raining. Torrenting. A true wash-out as the wet pelted from the Irish Heavens.

'It's raining,' I said, matter-of-factly.

'I can't stand this!' she stated. 'It rains all the time here. It's rained every day since we came over. Doesn't it ever clear up? How can you possibly stand it?'

I sighed. 'You know how Ireland is green?' I asked. She nodded. 'Well, if it weren't for the rain, it wouldn't be green.'

She didn't accept this as an explanation. Instead, she turned on her heel and marched from the bar, undoubtedly to try to book an early flight home.

It Rains in Ireland
If you're thinking of coming to live here, or stay for a prolonged visit, you might as well get your head around one simple fact: it rains in Ireland. It does not rain all the time (contrary to some people's misconceptions) but it rains enough, let me tell you.

It rains in big drops, little drops, and drops in between. It rains in fine mist. It rains in torrential downpours. It rains in the morning, the afternoon, and at night. Being on the western seaboard of the European Continent, with only the Atlantic beyond, Ireland gets its fair share of lousy weather. Huge storms, little storms, gales, deep low pressure areas, and swaths of grey grimness can make their way across the sea and sweep Ireland into a wet obscurity.

But take heart. All is not lost. For one thing, there's nothing finer than to take a long walk on a nice soft day. By 'soft', the Irish mean a day full of gentle misting wetness, when the world seems swathed in damp cotton and sound travels hardly at all. On days like this, I wrap up tight, put on my UCLA baseball cap, and walk along the Boyne River, near where I live.

It is so quiet! Just the dripping of the wet from the leaves of the tall trees. Swathes of dark clouds hunker down over the world, and for a moment I feel alone and comforted, as if I was held by a Being much larger and more interesting than I will ever be.

I walk slowly through the quiet taking everything in: the dark swooshing of the big river that flows next to me; the ducks and swans that nest along its edge; the wet sponginess of moss covered trees; the soft rain trickling down on my upturned face, tickling me as it wends its way down my neck. And for a moment I am alive and at peace.

It rains in Ireland, that's for sure. But rain is also life, and in its soft majesty - and if you listen to the silence - you too just might find peace.

But if you can't, then you can pack your bags, book an early flight, and go home just like the lady from California did. God bless her.

(For more stories on living and surviving in Ireland, see my book - A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland)

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting and very good place visited by you. You have visited a very good and one of the places in the Ireland. This is really very beautiful and it allows to feel the most enjoyable moment s of the life as well.