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Ah To Be In Ireland! (a short story) Part Four
Ah To Be In Ireland! Part Four
Seamus had some good luck in getting an Aer Lingus agent on the phone.
"Hello, could I spaik wid Aer Lingus plaise."
Cathleen walked briskly up to her husband with a shocked expression.
"You're callin' to go back to Ireland??"
"Hello, Miss. This here is Seamus O'Neill--by chance do you have any vacancies for Shannon this week?"
"Ya mean, you'd leave your job and security in New York," Cathleen asked incredulously.
"Yes, we're Irish citizens. Yes, one way, what time..."
"Are you crazy, Seamus? The kids, think of the kids!"
Yes, flight 493 at half six Tuesday evenin.' Aye..."
"If we leave, Seamie, you'll lose yer job!"
"Aye...be there an hour ahead...aye..."
"Ya fool ya--okay, listen, listen Seamie. Call up your boss and tell him there's been death in the family or something..."
"Right y'are. See you Tuesday..Yes, I'm payin in cash.....Now, me good womahn. What's yer problem?"
"Tell yer boss yer only leavin' temporary. We'll all go wid you just to see ya get this fool Irish notion out of yer head. The kids is out of school fer the summer--so maybe it would be a good idea fer us all ta go back ta see how good New York looks from afar across the foam."
Seamus chuckled to himself and called his boss right away to tell him he had to return to Ireland because of death in the family. Cathleen was too upset to go to bed. She just stared at her half-mad husband skipping around and taking down wall pictures and ornaments and searching for the suitcases. He coiled up the wires of the TV and scribbled a note that he taped to the tube reading, "For President Eisenhower--a gift from an immigrant."
"Seamie, fer heaven's sake, think of what yer doin.' Think of the shock to the children. They'll have no television over there, ya know."
"Thank God fer that! Ah, I can see Ireland now and taste them spuds."
"Yes, I can see us without no salary--it won't be long before you come back to old New York, sure it won't."
"Cathleen, yer a sport, a grand sport. We'll all love it back over there in them peaceful glens. We'll rent a nice wee farm. Wait and see."
Settling In Ireland
By early June the O'Neills were all settled in Country Antrim, though it took some coaxing to get Patty and Maeve to the airport back in New York. Their rented farm lay beneath bright green and rolling hills lined with darker hedgerows. A chilly mist hugged the upper bray where a medieval round tower rose up against the gray sky. Their farmhouse itself was a wee thatched cottage with a cowshed or "byer" attached and a pig house several yards away. Their kitchen radio (or "wireless") hummed with Irish jigs and reels all day long, while Seamus hopped and skipped about the fields planting spuds and feeling himself again after three long years in New York. Patty and Maeve had gone into town for the day in search of a televsion at some hotel or public place. But alas they had to settle for what the people had chosen to see--a horse jumping show.
Cathleen busily prepared stew in her little garret of a kitchen where a Chase Manhattan Bank calendar hung beneath the cross of Saint Bridid. Seamus ambled up to the door of his cottage whistling "The Rising of the Moon." Somehow he looked ten years younger.
"How many rows of bh'tatoes ya got planted today, Seamie?"
"I haven't counted, but me gorie, it musta been a few."
"Ya better damn well count--ya want us to die young? We're not in New York no more--you ain't earnin' no sixty dollars a week. Yer barely earnin' enough fer barley stew, mahn!"
"We're alive, aren't we? Have ya ever been happier? That's the point."
"Look at yer dirty hands--clean them will ya? And why haven't ya shaved in three days?"
"Awh, yer a terror, that's what y'arre. Yer a terror."
"It's no wonder I'm a terror. This mornin' I'm after seein' the ten year old graves of me parents in the cemetary. This land ain't filled wid nothin' but sorrow and memories, Seamie."
"Did ya visit me mother's and fahther's old grave whoile you was there?"
Old-time Friend Comes
"Aye, why? Haven't ya gone yerself?...Oh, God, here comes Dermid O'Reilly, and he's half drunk outa his mind. How did he find our new place so quickly?"
A white haired wee wisp of a man staggered over the fields to the O'Neill farmhouse singing some melancholic air.
"Dermid," Seamus shouted. "It's a great auld mahn y'arre! How be ye on this shockin' foine day?"
"Oh, yer drunk, yer drunk, ya silly auld fool...Say, Seamus, me boy, ya know what I'm after doin'?"
"Gettin' drunk, indeed."
"Awh, that's not the half of it. I bought me a foine good three pound roast for dinner today, and I thought I'd sleep off me whisky ahfter I put the roast in me oven. We'll I'm after wakin' up with the smell of smoke all through me house, and I checked me oven to see nothin' but a wee black smokin' ball!"
"A pitty, Dermid, sure 'tis a pitty. So have a cup a tay and a spread wid us."
"Be delighted--be pefectly delighted me good mahn."
Dermid entered their kitchen to sit by the turf fire of an open-hearth fireplace.
A book of interest for readers is Ronald H. Bayor's The New York Irish, 1997.