Sunday, March 17, 2013

Credit Where Credit Is Due, An Ode To Blarney, by Allison

As it is St. Patrick's day,  Matt has hung an Irish flag on our house while wearing a Guinness T shirt, and the girls are outfitted in green sparkle fedoras, green jester hats, green shamrock shirts, I feel like waxing poetic about our trip to Ireland last year.  Which was fantastic.
Especially the blarney.
The whole trip was super fun, Dublin was awesome, people actually do play fiddles and such and sing in pubs, sweater shopping galore, Book of Kells was enchanting, and M the then six year old stylist decided to hold a "Who is the Most Irish?" contest, as decided by her.
We venture to the countryside, which is totally GREEN and misty and fog, sheep wandering all about, people are playing Celtic music, and they tip hats at you and are lovely.
And I begin to feel like maybe they are Irish robots designed to trick tourists into buying sweaters and caps.
I was kind of worried, like, did they spray paint all this green?
Is there a fog machine?
Do they outsource the fiddling robots?
But hurray! 
No robots! No trickery!
Was actually super cool, fun, gorgeous country with delightful people.
And get this??
Matt somehow google earthed his ancestor's home (Via immigration papers, in which your homeplace must be listed, and on hers, a plot of land cited was pinpointed in County Kerry. I do not have high hopes, because I can't work the stupid hand-held GPS and get lost going to the DMV in our own city. But Matt is on a quest, and we drove in winding, sheep-riddled fashion to find his ancestor's home.)
And it was there!  
I decided to ignore the Big Brother creepiness of worldwide tracking systems and instead enjoy the third generation of descendents, standing proudly at her homeplace.
(Seriously. Matt should be proud, he found this house after I had said maybe one trillion times "You do not know where we are or where we are going, let's follow the sheep to a sweater store.")
And the house was  charming, semi-decaying, surrounded by flowering vines.
Also there was pretty concrete evidence that it had been recently undergone a hobo invasion.
The girls were all "Somebody did NOT clean up after themselves, how rude." 
And I am all "Maybe they are related to you and this is an inherited trait?"
We had a fab time driving the Ring of Kerry, randomly stopping to climb big rocky hill (Or I say, mountain) overlooking the stormy sea, went horseback riding in misty, mossy forests and meadows, and I decided my horse needed to change his name to Mr. Darcy.
So much awesome fun.  St. Patrick's Day in Dublin: festive, garish, happy, fab music.
M the six year old stylist found the winner of "Who is the most Irish?" contest: our waitress at a pub in Killarney.
And M was so right.
She was straight out of central casting:  accent was tinkling brogue, perfect fair coloring, wearing GREEN. Also she was way cool and was (or at least pretended to be) very pleased to have won M's invented contest.
She was fab.
Plus, next door to lovely pub was fisherman sweater heaven.
Win win.
As we were galavanting all over the countryside, on our way to Castle of Crazy by the sea,
(Note: I did not know it was Castle of Crazy. I heard "castle" and began sketching my gowns and dainty footwear. Those items were not needed in enormous castle filled with many portraits of murderous children - no lie, in our room, portrait of a girl holding a hatchet and a whip, and in the library under a roaring fire was an excellent rendering of the Children of the Corn - plus LIVE LOOSE BIRDS, THE HORROR, THE HORROR)
we decided to stop at Blarney Castle.
I had been forewarned by friends that the Irish pranksters defoul the Blarney stone and I should by no means kiss it.
I was fine with not kissing the Blarney stone since as legend tells, kissing it grants the Gift of Gab.
Clearly, I am all set on that.
And was kind of worried that kissing it would not only be gross due to fraternity-style hijinks, but maybe it would turn me mute.
I am sure there is a line of people, starting with those in my household, and including those who have to decipher the walls of text emails I send regarding first grade class parties, who would give money for me to kiss the thing and be cursed to Never Gab Again.
So as we approach Blarney Castle, in the misty, foggy rain (FYI, I deem that Best Weather Ever),
I was thinking: the castles we have seen are gorgeous and beautiful and stony and desolate.  What if this is tourist trap faux castle? I was concerned.
But I am an idiot!
While surely, tourists (And, yes, I know we are included in that category. But  I prefer to think we are anthropologists/sociologists/historians/shoppers) are touring, it is immediately evident why.
The grounds were the greenest.
The flowers most vivid, the trees tall.
The foggy, rolling mist, divine. 
But I was not going to kiss the Blarney Stone, because I do not want to catch a weird disease and be made fun of by my friends who warned me not to kiss it.
Yet, as I climbed the tall, stony castle, I am enchanted. It has a Poison Garden! 
A room designated the Murder Hole!
Great names for bands, and also helpful if people are trying to kill you.
 I read the stone's history (Queen Elizabeth wanted Earl of Blarney's castle, he would write her long, persuasive, flattering letters that had nothing to do with giving her his castle, this went on for years, until she said "I am sick of this Blarney!") on tasteful placards as we journey through awesomely named, ruinously stony castle. 
Every so often, there would be information on the erudite stone kissers. Winston Churchill! He was not a tourist!
These clever placards also gave examples of blarney versus obvious, insincere flattery.
And I am a fan of misty, rainy, ruinous castles.
And I am also a fan of rhetoric and a turn of phrase that is effective.
Especially effective when the Queen can throw you in the Murder Hole or Poison Garden.
And as we climbed up and up to the top of the castle, I was thinking:
1. Do not trip.
2. This set-up is fabulous blarney on Blarney.
 Ironically unironic. 
I was wooed by the use of blarney at Blarney to blarney me. 
I give credit where credit is due.
Well played, Blarney Castle.
And so I climbed to the tippy top of the castle (And note: it would be challenging to defoul this stone as it is way high up and on the underside of an interior wall. Not saying many have tried, surely some succeeded, but I bet some fell to their doom in the Poison Garden as well)
And I scootched out until I could reach the Stone, which was not in a convenient place to kiss or defoul.
And held onto bars and did a backbend to kiss the Stone. 
They don't make it easy, you have to show some effort, and dangle off of a tall stone castle. 
And I was compelled to do so.
Because I wanted to pay my respects to the very good sell job they did..
As a tribute, an homage, to top-shelf blarney. 
Credit where credit is due.