(THIS MONTH I am reposting musings from past Irish adventures. Sadly, finances kept me stateside this summer. I sent out four email journals from Ireland in October 2009, concerning my most recent of 10 adventures there. I thought it might be interesting to take a second look at these communiques. One entry became the poem: “Joys of an Irish Afternoon”. A second became: “Wild Night Visions of a Personal Apocalypse”, the retelling of a vivid nightmare, and the last 2 are compiled below:)
> Hi friends! Welcome to my first missive from the road!
THE STORY SO FAR:
. My ride (thanks Ed Martinez!) got me to San Francisco International Hairport 5 1/2 hours early, but there was some astonishingly beautiful art to ogle there and a cool new library and museum that made the time pass quickly. The flight however, was as grueling as ever. It only gets harder to take the older you get. I arrived in Dublin, (by now quite a familiar place), bought a bus ticket from the tourist desk, walked outside and Voila! There was my bus. I stepped inside and the doors closed behind me, as though they were just waiting for my arrival to depart- whisking me to Heuston station.
. There must have been TEN THOUSAND political signs in Dublin, (math, not hyperbole), sometimes eight or ten signs per intersection either fer or agin’ ratifying the new E.U. treaty, that Ireland was the last holdout in approving. The ‘no’ side seemed to have taken a page from the U.S. Republican playbook and propagated the most transparent, outrageous lies about the treaty, reminiscent of Sarah Palin’s death panel bullpucky. One line of crap they tried to foist on Irish voters, was that under the treaty Irish minimum wage would be reduced from 8 euro 65, to 1 euro, 44. ABSOLUTE HEINOUS LIES with no basis in real world fact. The Irish people were not hoodwinked, and voted 2 to 1 in favor of the treaty the day I arrived.
. The night before I left, I discovered that I had accidentally booked a seat on the wrong Killarney-bound train. I meant to take the 11 AM train, but inadvertently booked the 9 AM departure. Inexplicably, I arrived in time to catch the 10 AM train- an hour earlier than last time. I went to the desk and explained my mistake, and the lady said: “No problem. There’s plenty of room on the next train.” She issued my ticket, (which still said it was for the 9 AM departure,) I hopped on board and the train left the station. Everything was progressing flawlessly.
. On the last leg of my journey, a conductor was checking tickets and was not happy about my incorrectly issued ticket. I explained the snafu- told him I had emailed the company about the mistake, and when my mom called from Glengarriff they said it was no problem whatsoever. BIG PROBLEM according to Mr. Conductor. There was a fare differential, and I had underpaid for the 10 AM run. I just offered a ‘tough-shit’ shrug, as I only had a handful of Euros in my wallet anyway and no way to really pay the difference. The next stop was my destination- the end of the line. The surly conductor scowled and punched the ticket, hulking away. Just now- 2 days later, I finally checked into hotmail to see a reply to my email: The 9 AM train I paid for was 20 euro. The 10 AM train was SIXTY-EIGHT EURO, 50! I was expected to pay the 40 EURO, 50 difference in the train station! Quite a fortuitous fuckup, I’d say
. As soon as I arrived in Glengarriff, what had been perfect weather took a turn for the nasty. Having the usual trouble adjusting to the time difference, but I’m getting there. Took a stroll into the village to see posters and sandwich boards featuring my ugly mug, plastered all over town. To my extreme amusement, they included all of the tongue-in-cheek, self-depreciating copy I sent them about my being a naive and clueless, but sincere American blowhard! (At least the audience will know what to expect…) If the locals don’t recognize me after my previous nine visits, they certainly will now!
More later, as events merrit. Stay cool!
. Well my Glengarriff birthday gig went of very well. The Parrish Hall next to the cemetery where Paul is buried, was exactly one quarter full (and thus three quarters empty!) but the 25 folks who came were very gracious and enthusiastic. The president of the Glengarriff Theatre Group who hosted me. was more than a little miffed by the parish priest’s oversight in not including notice in the church gazette despite being given plenty of warning, and was convinced we would have had 2 or 3 times the turnout if only “that feckin priest!” had done what he promised to do. Aside from the money issue (a larger turnout would have equalled a much larger payout), the acoustics in the Parish Hall are hands-down the worst acoustics of any building I have ever performed in, and we were counting on a larger turnout to absorb the horrendous reverb. Ironically, the Irish didn’t seem to have as much trouble understanding me as the two Americans in the front row: my mother and her dear friend Marian. I guess it didn’t help that both are elderly and hard of hearing, and have not been fitted with the hearing aids they clearly need, but I was thankful for every warm body that was there. It’s never really about the $ anyway and I did make almost double my minimum usual fee. I can’t usually see the faces of my audiences, due to the bright lights in my eyes, but I could see all of them, and they were grinning and laughing throughout. The Irish laughed and sighed in all the right places, and found humor in punchlines that American’s didn’t recognize- perhaps because they have direct daily experience of the things I was exploring. It was not exotic to them, it was their life.
. All in all, it was a very memorable birthday indeed.
. Aside from the show, the highlights of this 10th journey were the unusual events I’d never experienced in Ireland before: getting acupuncture from my pal Howard before he left to hit the road, and our trek to the beautiful Buddhist retreat perched on the wild headlands of the Beara peninsula where Arline, Howard and I participated in a guided ‘loving compassion’ meditation that was very wonderful indeed. I felt such warm, loving vibes that I spent much of the day with tears streaming down my cheeks. They are opening a hospice there soon. If I get warning about my demise, this is where I’d chose to die. I found the meditation techniques very helpful and useful, and I will likely integrate them into my life to come.
. On the down side, I would be lying if I said that I was not deeply depressed about the new economic realities in this country I love so much. Quite simply, THE EURO HAS KILLED EUROPE for anyone but the privileged wealthy class. The combination of hyper-inflation and a terribly weak dollar has made most everything insanely expensive. The espresso I enjoyed this morning in Casey’s Hotel over the Sunday London Times was the equivalent of $4.40. One pub pint = 1 mid-range six pack at home. Formerly cheap pub grub is now more than I would usually ever spend on a meal at home. Lodging is now FIVE TIMES what I was accustomed to paying when the Punt was the currency here. All this is just crazy-talk. Prices are rising, income is shrinking and home values are depreciating at a debilitating rate. Sound familiar Americans?
. Capitalism has divided the world into 2 and only 2 classes: the wealthy and the desperate. Let’s be clear: what we are witnessing is THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISM. As far as I’m concerned, IT IS TIME FOR SOCIALISM IN AMERICA. Now.
. As long as my mom is alive and living in Ireland I will continue to return. (Presuming airfares don’t double… or triple… which would certainly not surprise me.) But gone are the days when I can take roadtrips, or eat out, or go to a pub- and Ireland just isn’t the same without these activities. Looks like I’ll be going home without hearing a single traditional music session, which for me, is a terrible, terrible tragedy.
> See you soon friends.
Live long and PROSPER!
– Kevin O’Keelan –
© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.