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Ps & Qs: Cead mile failte

Locations: Columns, Opinion Published

I told my sister that NASA was planning to fire a missile at an asteroid coming close to Earth — not because there was any danger of the asteroid hitting Earth, just to test our math (and, I suspect, to appease a bit of the Bruce Willisness in all Americans.) I worried that my upcoming trip to Ireland would coincide with the end of the world, or at least a self-inflicted tsunami, but my sister set me straight.
“What are you talking about?! Ireland is exactly the place you want to be for the end of days. They’ll know how to do it right!” Good point, I thought.
First, I went to visit cousins in London. While I freely admit I don’t really understand the relationship between the royal family and their subjects, I have a lot of time for historical sightseeing, the perfect humidity for my complexion, and gin + tonics in a can. And, even as an outsider, I realize we are witnessing the end of the ultimate fairy tale.
As shocking as Bruce Willis selling his digital twin rights, many traditions are now simply the old way of doing things (the younger generation calls antiques “brown furniture”) and I wonder if King Charles (yawn) will keep our attention for as long as it takes to switch out the paper money. His face makes me sleepy, and I think he could be the end of imperialism, colonialism, quite a few isms actually, which is a very good thing for very many people who do not live in an insulated bubble of privilege and wealth. Besides, it’s time to give the diamonds back to India…
Tooling around London in a double decker bus with a can of gin + tonic is a great way to kill an afternoon. I met another tourist, from Quebec, and as we climbed the stairs to take our seats in the open air, she explained that the tour varied depending on the tour company, as some recordings went into greater detail than others. When we discovered a real live tour guide with a microphone at the top, we exchanged grins.
“Game changer,” she said in Frenglish.
Our tour guide had a very dry sense of humor and now and then he would recite Churchill or break into song with his deep baritone. It was a highly entertaining bus ride around an incredibly rich city, and while I could appreciate the unqualified resilience of Londoners, I still couldn’t wrap my head around the disparity between them and their king.
When will the royal family hock one of their crowns to build food banks? Or sell some real estate to erect homes for the homeless? From my perspective, all they do is ride through town in old black cars to attend fancy events or play polo and walk through the countryside with their dogs… nice work if you can get it!
Strangely, the people of England seem to regard them with reverence, not resentment, and the longer they reign, the more they are revered. Similar, I suppose, to the way our elected officials don’t have term limits, so they stay and stay, well beyond their productive years, meandering through the hallways lost in daydreams of the past… I gave up and went to Ireland: the land of a hundred thousand welcomes.
Ireland gained its independence 100 years ago, and when I asked the taxi driver why they weren’t celebrating in the streets, he said, “We celebrate every day. Eventually, the bills need to get paid…”
These seem like words to live by. Ireland is the ultimate working-class fairy tale: lush green forests, vast green fields and fun folklore to fool the green Americans. Their front doors are painted different colors in defiance of Royal decree and there is a light-hearted, meet-each-day-as-it-comes feeling (though that could be due to the steady stream of Guinness in every pub.) The only castle we saw was a hotel full of Australians, Canadians and Americans kicking back in the Irish countryside (Kinnitty Castle outside Tullamore. Ask for the Geraldine suite if you want the haunted room!)
Turns out my sister was right, and whether it’s the end of a monarchy or the A.I. Bruce Willis launching into orbit, Ireland is a welcome place to be.

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Tags: #Ireland #Ps & Qs #travel
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