Today it seems appropriate to re-post a piece I wrote after getting home from Ireland after 9/11. At the time it was shock, then comfort in the company of strangers and the deep-seated need to connect.
The evening of September 11th found us in a crowded pub in Doolin, just a short drive from Galway and the ferry from the Aran Islands. After leaving Inis Mór we simply wanted a place to watch the news and relax some while waiting to get through to family in the US. Doolin is also reputed to have some of the best trad musicians in Ireland.
We arrived later in the afternoon without reservations and much of the town’s B&B’s were full. On the recommendation of one of the innkeeper’s we checked with, we knocked on the door of a rosy-cheeked man in his late sixties. Apparently Daniel’s wife was off in Dublin and he’d had one or several nips o’ the whiskey, so he was more than genial. They were in the process of getting set to sell the B&B so they no longer advertised, but he gave us lodging nonetheless.
Ravenous and craving the comfort of strangers packed into a cozy pub we made our way down to O’Connor’s for some dinner and several pints of Guinness. They had an enormous television set in one room of the pub and we all watched sickly as the crashes were replayed over and over. Daniel showed up an hour or so later and gallantly rescued me from the not-so-subtle advances of the town scallywag (in Daniel’s opinion anyway). He introduced us around to his friends and we took seats close to the circle of musicians that had finally started up.
It was a long night back and forth to the phone trying to get through to my companion’s family in NYC, going back for more music and pints, and finally collapsing into a comfortable bed. It was a terrible day to be away from my country, but made immeasurably more tolerable by the hospitality and kind sentiments of so many of the Irish.
From 9/11/01, A long night in Doolin…, igougo.com, March 2002