In an effort to leave my day behind, I often switch Pandora to mellow music after work. Tonight I picked Enya and found myself back in Ireland, three and a half years ago.
We arrived early in the morning. My brother had been working on an organic farm just outside Dublin and he met us at the airport, skinnier than I remembered but smiling ear to ear. We climbed into a little red Fiat and Alex took the wheel on the right side of the car. At first I closed my eyes, afraid to watch as he adjusted to the whirling roundabouts. Fotunately, I quickly gained trust in his ability to navigate the other side of the road. We headed straight to Glendalough, known for its 6th century monastery, an hour outside Dublin.
After a cold morning walk through the ruins, we headed to town in search of food. Not even three hours off the plane and we were greeted by the warmest hospitality in all of Europe. It began as a man on the street invited us inside a neighborhood pub for a drink. It could not have been past ten in the morning, but here this man already wanted to buy us alcohol. I declined, choosing tea instead, but my brother and Alex indulged in some mid-morning Irish beer. Food followed, as well as games of pool with an already drunk old man named Seamus. A coincidence because my brother’s name is the same.
The first man told us all kinds of stories about his family castle and this and that. His stories made me skeptical. He kept talking about his sister “Anya” and how she was the prized musician who left the family band. I thought, yeah, alright, so what– but he would not give up. He kept talking about her, like we should know her. Finally it clicked. “OHHHH, Enya!” I exclaimed, pronouncing her name wrong despite my realization of who she was. He looked a little disappointed.
Turns out our first gracious host in Ireland was Ciaran Brennan, a member of Clannad, (whose picture Alex later spotted hanging in the Guinness Factory). He wrote music for the Last of the Mohicans,U2, the list goes on. He knew all kinds of famous people and was not shy to tell us this– stories upon stories to impress. Now, I’ve never been one to fawn over famous people, let alone famous people who I could not identify on my own. However, his hospitality and persistence on welcoming us to Ireland won my respect.
Turns out Ireland was full of warm people who made us feel welcome, who took care of us like we were long-lost family. He was just the first. Tonight, Enya playing through Pandora, I returned to Ireland for a brief moment and remembered why I love Irish music, Irish people, and Ireland. I love it so much that we hired an Irish trio to play at our wedding. It’s in my O’Brien blood, I guess. Pandora and Enya did the trick, today is gone.