The mind paints the past in broad strokes of euphoria resulting in most of us housing, at least, an abstract Picasso in our minds when it comes to remembering what home used to be. You can’t go home again because going back presents you with an immediate reality that never can live up to the past. You have to out paint Picasso. When looking back I tend to think of my own past as “The Scream” as painted by the master Edvard Munch. Loads of horror for sure but it’s still an unbeatable masterpiece.
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I left Shepherdsville a long time ago with a determination of a refugee fleeing a war torn banana republic. I have since called a variety of places “home” like Louisville, Dallas, New York City, Washington DC and, as of this writing, my backpack. I have spent a lot of these post Bullitt Central days traveling to numerous countries including a war torn torn banana republic or two. Many of these places I thought I could call “home” like Ireland.
If you were abducted from your old Kentucky home by aliens and due to an in-spaceship clerical error were redeposited in Ireland you could be forgiven for thinking you were back in the bluegrass. Before you go away thinking this is patently absurd remember that most alien abduction occur from rural places.
You’d realize after gettng over the stinging and discomfort of the alien probing that the smiliarities are numerous.
Ireland’s undulating rolling hills are carpeted in a wonderful green, thus the name “Emerald Isle”. It’s a brilliant green which is exactly how the the progeny of a beautiful blue sky and brilliant yellow sun should look. Once, when rolling down the road from Dublin to Galway, I looked at pictures I took in Kentucky and was amazed at the uncanny resemblance to the Irish countryside.
I was sitting in Taaffe’s in Galway, one of Ireland’s countless pubs, and I felt right at home watching the band play. The instruments were downright familiar: banjos, mandolins and fiddles were in steady, constant play with such a fury that I began to wonder which performer’s strings were going to break first. The feel of the songs was familiar too. Irish songs tend to be heartbreaking in lyrical content, but you’d never know it watching the performers and the audience. Everyone was dancing or tapping their feet and they were all inebriated by music, ale and spirit. It reminded me of my own family back home. Times were never great for us but that didn’t matter when the music came out. My two brothers, Ricky and James, and my mother would often perform while those of us less talented would watch, listen and stomp on the floorboards. We were possessed by the mighty bluegrass spirit.
Speaking of spirit, Irish whiskey is a joyful thing. Smooth and rich just like the whiskey my grandfather made with his own two hands. The similarity doesn’t end there, it was a great surprise to me to learn that casks from Kentucky’s distilleries go to Ireland’s whiskey makers where they are reused up to three times before being into furniture. They know what we know in Kentucky, the oak makes all the difference.
Excepting the glaring differences like driving on the wrong side of the road and the funny accents it could easily be Galway, Kentucky.