February 29, 1964.
Returning to Ireland from America.
We came in high above the cloud barrier at about 9am. Looking down as we flew, I could see the Slieve Bloom mountains, the Nore and the Barrow, and I think it must have been in Offaly, one of those grassy circular forts, a ruined remnant of ancient times in Ireland, with a flock of sheep grazing close by.
From Collinstown Airport I took a taxi to the city, and my hotel. As we drove in, the driver pointed out all the sights to me: the O’Connell, Grattan and Parnell monuments, Trinity College, the Four Courts, Leinster House, now the seat of Dail Eireann.
Dublin is a city of historical associations. It is impossible to walk there, even if one is only vaguely familiar with history, without feeling the influence of the past upon your thoughts. It is also a great literary city, as many of the most famous names in literature have been born or received its education within its boundaries. In our own day, Dublin has been the birthplace of such modern literary giants as Yeats, Joyce, Synge, Shaw, O’Casey, Beckett, and who knows what the future holds.
After two days in Dublin I left for Mountmellick and the country.
The real Ireland is the rural Ireland and the rural influence predominates. Things may change a little here and there, but they never change much and basically the country people remain the same. It is still the quiet ways, the quick wit and easy hospitality which charm the foreign visitor. The same tall tales are told, the local characters still abound, and the simple poetry of country life is always evident.
Ireland is different things to different people. To some it is a place to relax, to others a place of excitement and good humour. But to me, I like to think, a land of Cuchuliann and Oisin, of Deirdre and Iseult, of the Slieve Bloom mountains, breathtaking in their loneliness, of an oppressed people who proved that might is not right; and it is by these and through these that I will always remember it.
Home on holidays to Mountmellick.
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