In honor of Saint Patty’s Day, I thought it a good thing to watch “Once”, once again. Its simple beauty held up, the emotional power remained, and I came away from it with more joy in me heart than I had before rewatching it. It’s just quite nearly a perfect film. No pretense. No artifice. Just golden, raw, innocent emotion, but never naive. True. The movie rings true, like guitars around a campfire. Like guitars in the streets of Dublin. And those streets came back to me and took me back to my trip there in 2003. A trip I can’t and won’t ever forget, for the depth of love I felt for my ancestral home, for the sights and sounds along the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, the castles, the mountains, the sea.
Yes, it’s green. But Ireland is much more than that. It’s a place unlike anywhere else on earth, with a people filled to the brim with song and history and sun-drenched melancholy. It’s a place of great stoicism and quiet pride, a love of nature, of music, of verse, and an abiding smile while it rains, a quick cry under the sun.
So, what did I drink to celebrate my Irishness? What else? Guinness, of course. So, here’s a toast to Yeats, Joyce, Synge, Sean O’Failain, Liam O’Flaherty, Flann O’Brien, J.P. Donleavy, Edna O’Brien, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, and Lady Gregory, just to name a few.
Speaking of Lady Gregory . . . twas she that first led me to the great Cuchulain, the Hound of Ulster, the Irish Achilles, who was the hero of my youth. Little did I know at the time how badly I mispronounced his name.
Coo-choo-lane, is how I said it as a young lad. Now I know better. It’s much closer to Coo-hoo-lin, though I’m no Irish linguist.
Oíche mhaith, codladh sámh.