It’s only when you live for a long period of time on foreign soil that you appreciate the nostalgia of that expression, ‘The Old Country’ and get a longing for the simplest of things. Like, when we lived in Spain and I tried to imagine the boggy smell of a turf fire. Or the taste of a yellow turnip with butter mashed through it, seasoned with salt and pepper. I could even be found frequenting the odd Irish Bar (believe me, some of them were indeed odd and not even owned or staffed by anyone remotely Irish). I amazed myself at times by watching a hurling match, a game I had never shown any interest in while living at home.
One day, while sifting through a bargain basket of tea-towels in a discount shop, I heard the sweet sound of a Gaelic tongue. Following it all the way to the check-out I found a young Irish mother trying to talk her five year old son out of buying yet another football. We got chatting, as you do, and I discovered that she and her husband spoke Irish and English in the home, and their son spoke Spanish in school. My own daughter was three when we moved there and was speaking the language like a local, a year later. It took me a lot longer and my broken Spanish was heavily laced with a Dublin accent.
Have you ever seen those commercials on tv about the Irish emigrant, staring out through a penthouse window in New York, sipping her Barry’s tea and thinking of home? Well, that’s not too far from the truth. What about yourself? Do you live far from home? What is it that you miss the most?
This article touched a chord with me when I read it; Colum McCann’s love letter to Ireland