Column: Irish have proven both friendly and fiery

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2002

This being the last Thursday between us and St.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

This being the last Thursday between us and St. Patrick’s Day, I take this opportunity to wish a bright and glorious St. Patrick’s Day to all of you out there, whatever the country from which your ancestors came.

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My ancestors came from such a number of places that my father once suggested that should anyone inquire as to my origins I should simply reply, &uot;Heinz 57 varieties.&uot;

A good many years ago, a long article about the Irish appeared in Esquire Magazine. The man writing the article argued that the picture most people have of the Irish as happy, jovial, fun-loving people was faulty.

&uot;Walk up to an Irishman in a pub,&uot; he said, &uot;tell him a Pat and Mike joke (one illustrating the supposed stupidity of the Irish) and you’re lucky if he doesn’t set down his glass, rise up from the table and smite you to the ground.&uot;

I’ve been in Ireland only once and that was almost 22 years ago. I was sitting alone in a beautiful rose garden while my friends were wending their way up a high hill, making the stations of the cross.

Seeing me alone, three elderly women of friendly disposition joined me. All went well until they asked me how I liked their country. I answered in perfect truth that I loved their country; thought it beautiful, thought the people friendly and hospitable. Then I made my mistake, bruised and battered from an automobile trip I’d been taken on the previous afternoon, I added, &uot;All except the roads.&uot;

The minute the words escaped my mouth, I realized that I’d just insulted three lovely ladies who were going out of their way to be kind to me.

&uot;They’re a tiny bit narrow,&uot; I said apologetically.

&uot;Not if you drive a proper sized car,&uot; another said coldly.

&uot;You don’t think they’re a bit rough?&uot; I pleaded, ready by this time to throw myself sobbing to the ground.

&uot;Not if one is going the proper speed,&uot; said the one who had spoken first.

By this time, though, the one who had led them to me had decided it was time to come to my rescue. &uot;Ladies, ladies. You’re being too hard on our new friend. You’ve forgotten where she comes from.

&uot;I tell you, my daughter is married to a man from the States. They live in a place called Chicago. I’ve visited them several times. And in that country if you’d believe it they don’t have just one road. Sometimes there are two or three, going in all directions and death and destruction rushing down on you from every side.&uot;

I’m not much of a believer in heredity, but if there is such I’m inclined to believe my sense of direction has strayed down from some Irish ancestor, who was probably intended to be left-handed.

I can’t remember now where I was headed when I trotted along a street in Dublin. I knew I was close to my destination, but uncertain of my direction I stopped a policeman and asked his help.

&uot;Ah, you’re not far from it,&uot; he said cheerfully, stepping in front of me, his back toward me. &uot;Go to the end of this street, cross it, go one more block, turn left. You’ll be right there.&uot;

&uot;Turn left or right?&uot; I was puzzled.

&uot;I said left.&uot; He sounded a lot like my father when I couldn’t understand a perfectly simple math problem.

&uot;You’re motioning with your right hand.&uot;

He turned and regarded me with some irritation.

&uot;Don’t look at what my hand’s doing,&uot; he admonished. &uot;Listen to what my tongue’s saying.&uot;

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.