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Black Don’t Craic Series: Part 3, Meeting Steven

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I talked to man who fishes on the Renvyle coast for lobster. Steven is a short but solidly built man, who’s wind-swept ruddy face broke into a million wrinkles when he gave a less-than-toothy grin. It really didn’t take a lot of effort to get him talking. I just wandered out to the front stoop of the pub to have a smoke. That’s all you need, really.

When he revealed he was a lobster fisherman, I used what I remembered of David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster” essay to fill in some awkward gaps in the conversation. I may have impressed him when I asked about hard-shell shedding. Speaking of shedding one’s shell, Steven took that opportunity to switch gears and tell me about the missing tips of his two fingers.

“You know how I lost them?” he asked. Of course I didn’t. I guessed that the hunt for crustaceans may have led to missing fingers. Turns out, Steven had been careless with the lawnmower. The blade took off half of his ring-finger and the tip of his middle-finger. “What did you do?” I asked. He didn’t pass out from the trauma like I would have, Steven ran himself down the road to the doctor.

Apparently lawnmower incidents are rather common in the Irish country-side. In fact, when Steven arrived to the hospital, there was already a man in the waiting room who was missing half a foot. He kicked his lawnmower. I asked Steven what happened to his missing fingers. Urgency made him leave the fingers in the grass bag. However, he did retrieve them later. He planted them in his backyard: “They’ve yet to sprout anything.”

I asked him if, after two years since the incident, he’s more careful with the mower. He admitted that he doesn’t fool with it anymore. He bought himself a donkey instead, it’s a good environmental alternative. I think Steven and I both learned that unlike lobsters and crabs, humans can’t grow back their limbs.

There’s that dark Irish humor


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Black Don’t Craic Series: Part 2, Quick-Wit

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I’d like to think that I’m quick on my feet when it comes to witty repartee, but the Irish have me beat. I should have known better, of course. The Irish gift of gab is real and I’m so delighted that can experience it for the next month. I’m a natural talker, I’ve been getting in trouble for excessive chattiness since I was a small child. I finally feel at home in Ireland, where the conversations keep rolling the like the hills.

I love being chatty, but I’m a slow talker. I’m especially slower when I’m two pints of Smithwicks in. Collin Coynes, the proprietor of Paddy Coynes, asked me and Noah a series of questions in rapid-fire: Are you with the school? Do you know so-and-so? How long you here? What do you teach? How many student did you bring? ‘Bout how old are the kids? Which cottage are you staying in. . .

It didn’t take too long after that, for Collin to become our best friend. That’s the thing; everyone I’ve met in the Paddy Coynes establishment is like a new best friend. I’m especially flattered that whenever I introduce myself, the locals freak out over my name. Four different people have said: “Charish?? Whoa, that is a class name. Real class. My god, Charish, is it?”

Yesterday, I met Jackie, a world-class champion fly fisherman, who drank Coors Light and bragged about the poetry he wrote. I gave him a little shit about drinking piss beer in Ireland and he took it in good great stride. He and Collin, who was apparently not working that evening, revealed secrets of Guinness, like when a pint was finally ready to drink, that it’s wasn’t originally an Irish beer, and if you hold the glass to the light, the beer was a beautiful ruby red. So I went ahead and ordered a pint. For research. While I was talking with Jackie about his poety, which was hanging on the wall behind him, the cook came out from the back and asked roughly: “How long have you been in town?” I told him, just two days. He shook his head and remarked: “And you’ve managed to become friends with this kook?”

We all howled in laughter. That is apparently what you call “a good craic.”

Now I know I’m only a visitor, an American tourist who will be gone in two weeks. My group and I will invest money in this small village, which seems to be growing because of the visiting university students. But I feel like I’m at home. Tullycross has been so welcoming, it’s like going down to Arkansas to see my family.

Pub craic is easy enough to fall in love with, but I can’t drink like I thought I could. Yesterday was a little too much rollicking fun with three Guinness, three Smithwicks and three whiskeys. It was an unholy trinity that I paid for the following morning. I’ll be in Tullycross for two weeks, so I should learn to pace myself. After all, I’ve got to set a good example for the students. . .

 


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Black Don’t Craic Series: Part 1, Vacation Hair

I’m two days away from spending a month in Ireland and I’m terribly anxious about a very minor thing. It’s very minor to my white husband, considering he’s still teaching himself Ireland (which is a HUGE deal to him). I’m worried about Vacation Hair.

Vacation Hair for many black women is a big deal. Sure, there’s planning the essentials like power adapters, passport renewal, and bringing copious amounts of underwear. But when you’re abroad, in countries that might not have the products you’re accustomed to, what’s your plan? No really, what’s your plan? I’m two days away from this trip and I’m still panicking.

The last time I left the country, I was wearing Marley Twists. This was acceptable because I was only going to be in Finland and Estonia for two weeks. While the twists made moving our luggage and clearing our hotel rooms much easier, they became a little uncomfortable and itchy towards the end of our stay.

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Marley Twists in Helsinki, Finland

I have my heart set on packing lighter, carrying only the clothes and electronics that we need. As for as toiletries, just the basics please: deodorant, soaps, toothpaste, etc. I can’t afford to take the bulk of my hair products or a flat-iron (that was the mistake I made when I went to hot, humid Thailand). I don’t want to go full-fro (that was what I eventually needed to do in hot, humid Thailand).

Also, I still want to look cute. . .

So I’m taking a couple of stand-by wigs. I don’t like the idea of storing them in a suitcase, but it could free me up to carry fewer hair care products. I’ll just take my conditioner and my wide tooth comb. Am I being ambitious? Perhaps. The point is, I still haven’t gotten the hang of Vacation Hair. Every trip I take, here or abroad, I think I’ve perfected the problem only to buy the Wal-Mart comb that I accidentally left at home.

I’m taking a short simple number and a curly one:

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This unit is from Freetress, named “Charlie”

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I forgot what this unit is called. . .

I will let you guys know how it works out. I have found a good article about traveling with wigs. I’m hoping that helps keep me properly on the move. If you have any Vacation Hair tips, please leave them in the comments section. Remember, I’ll also have Ireland Vlogs on my Motley News YouTube Channel. I want you to see the sights and hear the sounds (of the sheep) as well!


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Hitting the Road: Emerald Isle

The Motley News is taking this show on the road. . . internationally.

I’m headed to Ireland for my university’s study abroad program. While my husband is teaching and guiding students from our institution, I’ll be free to discover the country-side (I’m not teaching this summer, lol)

Two weeks will be spent with the students in a small town called Tullycross, a literal “one-horse town.” When we checked it out on on Google Earth, it was a fairly short tour. Students and faculty will stay in thatched-roof cottages with kitchens and peat-burning fireplaces. Sigh. . . it sounds positively bucolic.

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You are entering  Tullycross

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The church is in the center of town

After the students have their study abroad experience, they will return home from Shannon Airport while hubby and I continue onward to Ireland’s fifth largest city, Galway, where we will spend five nights near the famous Eyre Square. I’m especially excited to see the college town of Galway, with its young hipsters, packed busy pubs, and international cuisine.

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City-center shopping

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Cliffs of Moher

Our next stop, which might be hellish to get to, will be the coastal town of Dingle. Funny name, but it sounds like a lovely place. We’re going to be there for five nights, seeing the fishing boats, palm trees, and dolphins. You heard right, this West Ireland town, “featured” in the romantic comedy Leap Year, has dolphins. Specifically, a famous dolphin named Fungie. I don’t know if I’ll meet him (that would require me to get in a boat and find him).

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There’s Fungie

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View of the coast

Our last five days will be spent in Limerick, the “Cultural Capital” of Ireland! It was informally known as the “Stab Capital” of Ireland. In his Ireland guidebook, even super-intrepid Rick Steves said to watch your wallet in Limerick. I’m looking forward to being in another vibrant university town with young folks. Not to mention, there’s the beautiful King John’s Castle:

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So, that’s the trip! I’ll be in Ireland for a FULL MONTH. This is a great opportunity for me to flex my travel writing skills again. Trust me, posts after this will be a lot more specific to location, detailed, and (hopefully) wittier. Also, check out The Motley News YouTube Channel for on location videos.