Coming of Age, 1972: Episode #8

Friday, October 21, 2022

My short visit to Ireland—three days of hard travel—did not allow me time to get as far north as Sligo, from whence hailed my paternal great-great-grandfather Carroll, nor to get out of the car in Cork, which I incorrectly thought had been the birthplace of my great-great-grandfather Kelley. However, I did spend a delightful overnight in Limerick. I have to assume the city figures somewhere in my DNA. Here is a quick one that I wrote just today:

An illustrious PM named Lis Truss
Said, “No longer can I hold this trust.”
The greatest frustration
Is viscous inflation
But we shan’t dissolve Commons. It is this thus.

I’m unable to find a photograph of the Youth Hostel in Limerick, and I have only a vague memory that it was somewhere near the city center. In lieu of photographs, I will tuck in a sampling of limericks from my collection.

What I do remember is the uproariously fun discussion we had when we discovered that the 17 guests who gathered in the common room that evening spoke 14 different dialects of English. Between us, we represented Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, Boston, Georgia, Texas, Scotsmen, Welsh, several areas in England, and—of course—the standard and correct English that we speak in California. Since everyone was traveling, we each had recent observations of the funny differences in the ways English speakers say things. In addition to a cheap and clean place to sleep, one of the benefits of the Youth Hostels is trading experiences with the other travelers. Often, many were coming from where I hoped to go next, and could give impressions and advice.

When we could laugh no more, an Aussie girl told me she wanted to go for a beer, but didn’t want to be the only girl in the pub. She offered to buy me a drink if I would be her escort. Had she not asked, I probably would not have thought to include a pub in my Irish experiences. I’m glad I did. It was quiet, but the atmosphere was friendly. She did turn out to be the only female in the room, but we enjoyed our conversation walking over and back, and each drank one beer.

For a day that started in Loo Bridge and included the Ring-of-Kerry, I was more-than-ready to turn in when we got back to the Hostel. Just a few days earlier, I had attended a play by the Royal Shakespearian Theater, in Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. As nice as that had been, now I was sleeping a night in the city that had given its name to the Limerick, the apex of English literature and culture.


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