A Night In Killeshandra
by Liz Mahoney
October 4, 1999
Meeting new relatives was very interesting. I guess I never realized how different American culture is from Irish culture. Even though I hadn’t seen these relatives since nearly ten years ago, they acted as if I had just gone away on a long vacation and hugged me as if I had known them all my life. After the Irish welcoming, we all paraded into the 200 year old Georgian farmhouse where we were served coffee and soda with ice, “a special treat for the Yanks,” as Grainne said. After our drinks, we had a traditional Irish dinner consisting of lamb, two kinds of potatoes, broccoli and turnips. After dinner we had a very scrumptious trifle.
Around ten o’clock, someone stood up and recommended going to Dicky’s Pub for the Thursday Night Session. It was ten o’clock! Personally, I was sort of tired. But I thought, what the heck, and put a smile on my face and followed everyone out the door.
Getting to the pub was quite an experience. We had a stick shift car, and through the rain, in the dark, we stick-shifted our way down the winding roads to the little town of Killeshandra to Dicky’s Pub. All seventeen people and six fiddles filed one by one into Dicky’s. I must admit we changed the mood of the pub. Not because there were children there, but because the Yanks and more importantly the musicians had arrived! The music started around 10:30 and started rather slow. Everyone got themselves a drink and slowly began organizing themselves to play the fiddles.
By 11:15, other musicians had arrived and things started heating up. My cousins, Tony and Greg, were each on their second pint of Guinness and my nine year old cousin Lorcan was running around swiping their hats. Before I knew it, 12:30 had rolled around and the pub was in full swing, with fourteen musicians playing fiddles, drums, accordions, flutes, and guitars. By then, Tony and Greg were on their fourth pint each and I made little smiley faces in the foam on the tops of their pints of Guinness. Lorcan was my partner in crime while we tormented Tony and Greg and their beloved hats and pints. Finally, Greg got a little fed up with my fingers in his Guinness and said, “If you’re touching it, you’re drinking it!” So … I did. And I must say, Guinness is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.
After five pints of Guinness, Tony and Greg started to act a little too happy. Tony said, “Lizarita, I think it’s about time for you to learn the rules of drinking.” And continued to babble on and on. I simply smiled and nodded my head as if I cared. This sort of made me laugh. And I looked at everyone around me. They all were smiling, singing, and having a good time. I felt as if I had known them for years even though we had just met no more than a few hours ago. Sitting in that hot, stuffy pub, it was at that moment I felt connected and knew what it meant to be Irish.