May those who
Love us, love us.
And those that
Don't love us
May God turn
And if he doesn't
Turn their hearts
May he turn
So we'll know them
By their limping.
There is a lot of Irish wisdom floating around this weekend: some sappy; some satirical. But none embodies the true Irish spirit for me as much as this simple Irish poem.
"So we'll know them by their limping" – That just sums it all up nicely….
We lived in Ireland for a year. Our house was a typical terrace or row house: two rooms deep by three floors high. It was old. The walls were two feet thick and it had recently been remodeled to add a kitchen and bathroom. We were right across the water from Cobh harbor (pronounced 'cove') where over 2.5 million emigrants embarked for a better place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I had a large ottoman snuggled into one of the window spaces on the second floor. It fitted the space perfectly. I would sit in my little nook, have my morning coffee, write in my journal and watch the world go by.
This is how I became aware of the daily activities of our next-door neighbor, Mickey.
Each day, around mid-morning, Mickey would leave his house with a small plastic bag. He would slowly meander across the street, walk along the walls of the pier for a bit, then lean over and look across the water…gazing out to sea, as it were. (Mickey had been a fisherman.)
When he stood back, the plastic bag was gone.
Then he would saunter over to the public outhouse and disappear. About fifteen minutes later he would emerge and walk briskly back across the street to his house, morning chores complete.
We never saw Mickey's wife (although we heard her on more than one occasion).
We assume she ran a tight ship and did not allow certain 'activities' in her immaculate house. (Wha? Shit inside? In the house? Not in my house, you don't!)
We only spoke to Mickey twice – not because he wasn't friendly, but because we couldn't understand him.
We assumed he was speaking Irish. Wrong, again!
Apparently, the local speech in County Cork (pronounced 'cark') is considered totally unintelligible by Dublin standards. After learning this, we paid closer attention and realized that Mickey was, in fact speaking English.
In the end, we just avoided each other: Mickey because (I think) he felt he couldn't properly articulate his words; us because we felt that, somehow, we should be able to understand this kind old man but were never able to.
We always smiled, waved and nodded like crazy at each other, though. In our own ways we were good neighbors. (partial reprint from post of March 2005)
To celebrate St. Patrick's Day Emiline, of Sugar Plum, is hosting a Pub Crawl.
1 lb (450 gr) beef suitable for stewing or braising
2 cloves garlic
1 bay (laurel) leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 pint Guinness
2 tsp beef paste (or stock cube)
1 tbs oil
3 tbs cornstarch (maizena)
1 tbs paprika
Cut beef into 1" (2.5 cm) cubes. Cut onion into quarters, then slice thinly. Mince or press garlic. Cut carrots in half the long way, then into 1" (2.5cm) pieces. Combine paprika and cornstarch in a plastic food bag. Add beef and toss to coat evenly. In sauce pan large, enough to hold everything easily, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add beef and brown on all sides. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer at least an hour. If it starts to dry out, add more Guinness. If you would like the sauce thicker stir in 1 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbs water.
When ready to eat, remove bay leaf and serve with boiled jacket potatoes.
Emiline says she'll have a boozy reminisce of the pub crawl on March 20….