Across the River | For the love of the Irish

SAINT Patrick will have his big day this Saturday so let's pay tribute to the Irish and the thing they do best – not taking life too seriously.

BLARNEY: Only in Ireland would the wind blow you straight into a friendly pub with a welcoming turf fire and a glass of Guinness for lunch. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow

BLARNEY: Only in Ireland would the wind blow you straight into a friendly pub with a welcoming turf fire and a glass of Guinness for lunch. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow

We've been lucky enough to visit Ireland quite a few times over the years –  one of the friendliest countries on the planet. 

So why not share some tales from our travels in the land of a thousand welcomes. 

We should begin on a flight into Dublin, having a chat with a couple of lively Irish ladies. 

The conversation drifted to kids, with one of the Irish ladies complaining that although her three adult kids have good jobs they are still living at home.

She couldn’t get rid of them. 

We suggested she must be making life too comfortable.  

The other Irish lady agreed.  

"You need a bit of tough love, dear. Don’t cook their favourite meals, don’t do their washing, turn off the WiFi,” she said with a playful glint in her eye.

“And if all of that fails, start walking around the house naked.”

The thought of seeing their parents naked will frighten any offspring out of the house for good. 

It is that everyday laconic Irish sense of humour Australians can relate to.

Like the lovely lady cooking breakfast on a farm where we were staying who reassuringly told me one morning over the kitchen sink that, “You can rest assured, Geoffrey, that no woman has ever killed a man while he is doing the dishes.”

Or the tale of poor old O'Connell who was staggering home with a bottle of whiskey in his back pocket, when he slipped and fell heavily. 

Struggling to his feet, he felt something wet running down his leg. 

"Please, God," he implored, "let it be blood!"

Speaking of which, apparently young Belfast soldiers were pretty keen to donate blood during the Troubles in the 1960s. It seems the Guinness company ran advertisements to encourage blood donations with an offer they couldn’t refuse: "We'll give you a pint of ours for a pint of yours."

We saw a restaurant in Dublin with a sign saying: "If you want to use your mobile phone, there is another lovely restaurant up the road." 

Apparently the owner is sick of people staring at their mobile phones while dining with friends or family, so he collects any mobile devices at the door and locks them in his cool-room until after they pay the bill. 

On a small local ferry across to an island off Enniskillen, the playful Irish captain gave us the mandatory safety instructions, telling passengers that if we see him put on a life jacket and run out to the front of the boat we have two choices. 

“You can get up, grab a lifejacket and follow me, or you can casually saunter up to the back of the boat and drink the bar out, because none of us will be around to collect your money.” 

“There are two ways of arguing with a woman,” declared a poster we saw in a Northern Ireland hotel, before reading the punch-line: “Neither works.”

Another poster showed a little Irishman struggling in the foul weather, saying, “I can’t believe how strong the winds were today, Paddy. My wife sent me out to get a bottle of milk and the wind blew me straight into the pub.”

And we spotted a delightful Irish prayer on a wall in a Dublin hotel.

"May your glass be ever full, may the roof over your head be always strong and may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead."

But I think my favourite was at another little pub where there was a beautiful photograph of one of those lovely, freckle-faced, red-headed Irish girls with an infectious smile and pig-tails.

The caption simply said, “A face without freckles is like a sky without stars." 

Yep, you’ve gotta love Ireland, haven't you?

 – Geoff Goodfellow


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