I’m a sentimental girl, an incurable romantic prone to fits of nostalgia. Because of this, I have booked four trips to Ireland looking for…I don’t know. Lost love? A little white cottage with a thatched roof in which I can dream and write? The perfect travel photograph? An actual leprechaun or a metaphorical pot of gold?
I’m the girl who wanders the beaches of the Wild Atlantic Way, collecting shells and rocks. (Choose any jacket from my closet, and you’ll find grains of sand in the pockets.) I’ll pull over every hundred yards or so in County Kerry to capture a memorable vista with my camera. Live music in pubs makes me cry because every song sung in Ireland emanates from the soul of the earth and possesses me. I can’t explain it; it’s something you have to feel.
You know what isn’t romantic to me? Souvenir shops. Mass-produced trinkets or clothing in one of Ireland’s 40 shades of green. If I have to buy it, or it came from some factory in China, I don’t want it. In fact, I don’t even budget for souvenirs. So, it was a big deal that I bought two of them this past October.
One was not my fault. I’d fallen under the enchantment of a Spanish busker crooning out the most beautiful rendition of Hallelujah in the middle of Grafton Street, and, wiping tears from my eyes, turned over my last ten Euro to buy his CD. Now that I’m home, though, and the thrall has lifted, the CD makes me laugh because his Spanish accent reminds me of Antonio Banderas singing Livin’ La Vida Loca as Puss in Boots and nothing at all of that night in Dublin.
My second souvenir was a pewter pendant with my name stamped out in ancient Ogham script. Yes, it’s totally touristy. Locals don’t do this, but there was this guy sitting in front of Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare, and he had this Druid air about him, a table full of tools, and a good story about how he was an artist and got robbed while sleeping on the streets of Galway this one time… Pull at my heartstrings! Good-bye 20 Euro.
Ogham gets it’s name from Ogma, the Celtic God of Eloquence and Literature, and it was a form of writing used in Ireland between the 4th and 7th centuries.
Ogham, thought to have magical overtones, was common among the Druids. How could I resist buying a pendant with a magical language on it?
I suppose the real story is, though, that I have a soft spot for artists who are simply trying to eke out an existence. I picture them back at their meager apartments or the couches on which they surf in the homes of friends or tired relatives who wish they’d pick a real career, and I feel sorry for them. So I buy their wares and hope they can continue to create and find happiness.
Like I said, incurable romantic.