An Irish Ballad for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s only appropriate as we approach St. Paddy’s Day, that I indulge myself in more Ireland talk. On our first trip to Ireland, we tried not to plan and follow the stone walls to wherever they might lead us. We did a few things that Rick Steves suggested too, however. Though we spent most of our trip travelling around the Irish countryside and avoiding crowded tourist destinations, we did spend a couple nights in Dublin and took in the Musical Pub Crawl.

I fell in love with Irish music on this trip.

The music ranged from traditional to humorous and of course included beautiful and mournful ballads. The musicians that lead the crawl vary from night to night, based on traveling musician schedules and we were lucky enough to have Anthony Bools. His voice had so much character and fit the tone for each type of song chosen.

They had a professionally recorded CD compilation of various musicians that lead the tour and it has been a mainstay on my Ipod for a few years now. I couldn’t have been more pleased to have heard this particular song live, with fiddle accompaniment and later have a version to play at home, while I dreamed of Guinness and seisúns. I do suggest the tour if you are interested in learning about Irish music. The real feel of a seisún can be found in a good local pub, where the musicians play amongst themselves instead of to a crowd but this is an opportunity for a musician to take a moment between songs and discuss the fundamentals of the music and the instruments that are so specific to this type of music.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Slainte!

The Leprechaun and the Pilot

Today is a day that I’m not feeling particularly inspired by anything.  To the picture files we go!

I found this picture, taken from one of those old razor phones, about four years ago.  It is the epitome of my husband and I.  You can almost sum up how much fun we have together by this picture, but I promise we’re not too weird.  We just like to have fun.  I think my Mom was the original recipient of this picture.  This pretty much seals the deal regarding whether or not our family knew we were meant to be.

My husband and I met in San Diego, before we reached the drinking age.  This meant that we were in that stage between high school and the San Diego bar (meat market) scene.  It also meant our dates had to be creative because we are both old souls who were far older than the candles on our birthday cakes.  He began taking me to “fun” places right off the bat.  We went to theme parks and ran around like kids.  It was good for us, particularly me, because I knew how to have fun but I can easily find myself becoming too serious and stiff if I’m not forced into playing.

I’d say within the first month, we started picking up silly hats wherever we went and posing in pictures with them.  The last time I checked, we had three Rubbermaid tubs full of hats and random costume gear.  Needless to say, we’ve since taken most holidays and definitely Halloween a lot more seriously since we met each other.  As a matter of fact, we’re currently in preparation of our favorite Leprechaun making his appearance next week.  Our friends tease us, but they agree they wouldn’t want us any other way.  I like that we are not so straight laced when we want to be, that we can loosen up and not take things so seriously.

We came across these particular disguises in preparation to our move to the East Coast, my original home.  You can tell by the fuzziness and randomness captured, that we never intended to actually publish this picture anywhere, but I can’t help but smile when I see it.  He’s wearing a couple key pieces to his famous Leprechaun costume, and I’m wearing a child’s pilot cap we bought in an airport.  The rest is just unfortunate, before my nose job and before I began waxing.  I love that hat.

Note for Philadelphians:   If you run into us on St. Paddy’s Day, and you’ll know who we are, do say hello.  If you are a slutty drunk girl who is pretending to be Irish, restrain yourself from asking to take kinky pictures with my husband.  You’d think I wouldn’t need to say that.

Irish Whiskey on the Horizon

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Saint Paddy’s Day will be here soon. Last year I spent the holiday having major surgery. The anesthesiologists told me that the stuff I’d be getting was much stronger than my Irish whiskey. They were right.

Although St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal for our family, I hadn’t been too devastated because we had returned from Ireland only a couple months before. My husband still swore he’d dress in his annual Leprechaun costume for the occasion, but luckily he didn’t. Though part of me would have liked to see the looks on people’s faces as he sat in that surgical waiting room, in one of the country’s best hospitals, with tights and a top hat.

We enjoy Irish whiskey any time of the year, but the Irish season is amongst us in America and I thought about our trip to Bushmills in Northern Ireland. Alongside many brands of Irish whiskey, Bushmills is a classic.  Most startling was when we took the tour and saw Jameson bottles being pushed along the rolling conveyor belt.  Come to find out, that Jameson drives tanker trucks from the southern tip of Ireland to the northern one, as they have a deal to use Bushmills as a bottling plant.  I find it hard to believe this economic reasoning, but whatever it is, it is humorous to have the #2 Irish whiskey in the world, bottling the #1 guy’s stuff.

We also discovered the greatest job in the world; if you enjoy whiskey that is.  Bushmills whiskey is blended, with other malts and derivatives of other flavored casks for the best flavor.  The master blender, Helen, tastes and tests the blends of Bushmills.  That is her job.  Our guide said she’s picked up and driven home each day because her job is to drink whiskey.  Whether that was a bit of Irish humor or not, I like to believe that Helen has the greatest job in Ireland.

We had such a great day at Bushmills.  My husband and I only take tours that truly interest us, and not for the sake of adding admission tickets to our scrapbook.  I can’t remember a time that we didn’t connect with the guide and develop further conversation as the day progressed.  We ask questions and honestly want to learn.  This day was no different.  We ended up having our complimentary tasting and a few more, thanks to the generous tour guide when we went back to the tasting room.  We sat amongst a gigantic copper still and enjoyed some of the greatest things Ireland has to offer; whiskey and banter.  Our love for Ireland doesn’t end with these two things, but we’ll save more for another day.

Slainte.