The Aul Country

I’m helping out behind the counter in the wine shop today. Just a moment ago I looked out the window in time to see a crowd running down the street, a man yelling, “Catch that bastard! Catch that bastard!”

Like the other shopkeepers, business people and midday shoppers, I poked my head outside to see what was going on. About a block down the street, I could see the mob of angry men, women and children, still running after “that bastard.” They caught up with him at the corner of Laurence Street and Shop Street where, beneath the old clock tower, a fist flew through the air and knocked the man to the ground. The furious shouts subsisded.

Holding a hand over my eyes to shade out the sun, I asked some of the other onlookers what had happened. Most didn’t know and kept on pushing their grocery carts or baby buggies along the walkway as though this sort of drama was normal. Finally, an old man said, “Someone snatched a woman’s handbag!”

I actually tried not to laugh.

I don’t know about you, but this was the first time I’d seen a crowd of townspeople running down the centre of the street after a criminal. I half expected it to be a murderer or at least a gigalo who had been caught messing with the farmer’s daughter. But no, it was an amateur outlaw – a purse snatcher.

It gives me a real sense of contentment to know the people in this community have such a strong sense of morality when it comes to petty thieves.

It’s no surprise that the old world charm here that draws so many people in. It definitely drew me in, though it admittedly wasn’t the very first thing I was attracted to about Ireland. 🙂

Sometimes it’s overblown for the tourists – you know, all the stereotypical country pubs, Aran sweaters, Riverdance, Leprechauns and red-headed kids stuff. And sadly, a lot of the truly traditional Irish aspects of life here have faded and changed. Often, it’s only the remote, western parts of the island that still retain some of those character traits.

But it’s occasions like today that bring it back home, and remind me at least that Ireland really is a unique place all its own.

I am also reminded when I hear what it was like for Frank growing up. It actually blows my mind!

His mother was telling me the other day about how, when he and his siblings were small, she would get up early in the morning to light the kitchen fireplace for heat and the sitting room fireplace for hot water. There was no central heating in the house! And it was a new house!!! At bedtime, she’d send the kids to bed, bundled up with heavy blankets and hot water bottles. Then there was the year it snowed and the coal man couldn’t get through to the homes in town. So the Kellys sat huddled together in multiple layers of clothing by a fire made only from fire-starters! Add to that no phone (unless they walked down the road to grandma’s!).

I just can’t believe it was like that here in the 1980s! We got to talking about the recession and Frank’s mom said something about how they’ve been through it before, and will be fine to get through again. It just brings a whole new light to how people live in different parts of the world. I mean, even in Russian-occupied Latvia in the 1980s there was at least central heating and water!!! Still, Frank and his siblings seem to have had a great upbringing, never wanting for love and affection, full of happy memories and vivid imaginations.

And here we are now.

It makes me hopeful and excited for our life together, to know that if we stick together and keep an optimistic outlook, we can make it through anything. Maybe we’ll live by firelight for a few years or maybe I’ll stretch out a roast over several meals (like my mom did), but we’re gonna be just fine. And I have no doubt that our children, when they arrive one day, will also be blessed with much love and vivid imaginations. 🙂


2 thoughts on “The Aul Country

  1. Claire

    Have such a happy marriage this week! I’m so excited for you. Hope all the preparations are making you happy and not insane. Love to you and Frank.

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