In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve been re-visiting some of the Irish items I live with every day. Here are 17 of them for the 17th of March:
1) A green-and-black rugby shirt from Delaney’s, an Irish pub in the Wanchai district of Hong Kong. (Wanchai was the setting for “The World of Suzie Wong,” but I never met her at Delaney’s.)
2) An Irish flag. Just a small one. (A bigger one flies outside our house at St. Simons Island.)
4) A pair of portraits of writers: one of novelist James Joyce, the other of the playwright Sean O’Casey.
5) A painting by John Woodfull of the interior of McDaid’s pub on Harry Street in Dublin, once the favored local of the writer Brendan Behan, among others. In the painting, a pint of Guinness rests on the bar next to a folded copy of the Irish Times newspaper. If you look closely, you can read this headline just above the fold:
S. Keith Graham to
6) A coaster with a picture of the poet Patrick Kavanagh and these lines from “If ever you go to Dublin Town:”
(Just a footnote, Kavanagh lived at 62 Pembroke Road in Dublin in 1943 and again from 1944-1958, but he might be better known for his association with Raglan Road, where he also lived for a time. “On Raglan Road,” a Kavanagh poem set to music, has been recorded by Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor and Luke Kelly among others.)
7) A small collection of Irish CDs by performers including Maura O’Connell, Van Morrison and the Chieftains.
8) A cup from O’Kim’s, an Irish pub in Seoul, South Korea. (You could get a Guinness there but only in a can. The fish and chips were decent, though.)
9) A dark blue wool flat cap bought at Kennedy and McSharry in Dublin.
10) A mug bearing the lyrics to “The Rose of Tralee,” purchased the day after a genial elderly man named Sean Ferris serenaded my wife with the song as we rode in a jaunting cart through the scenic Gap of Dunloe.
11) A T-shirt celebrating the 1990 Irish World Cup soccer team. Here’s a great scene from the movie of Roddy Doyle’s “The Van.” It illustrates how that team was embraced by the Irish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gaj2vONg67I
12) A postcard of the Regency Hotel in New York with this message scrawled across the back: “Dear Chrys & Keith: Go to Ireland. Richard Harris” (It’s mounted next to a photo of film critic Eleanor Ringel with the actor; Eleanor asked Harris to write the card to us while she was interviewing him and he kindly obliged.)
14) A copy of Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf,” autographed by the poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. (I once had the good fortune to spend part of an afternoon talking with Heaney and later attended a spirited party where he was the guest of honor.)
15) A pair of Donegal Mist handwoven tweed coats that wear their age much better than I wear mine.
16) A cloth book bag from Hughes & Hughes book store in Dublin, where writers and readers are rampant.
17) A now empty bottle of Smithwick’s Irish ale that — with optimism that proved too great — I had really planned to drink later tonight.