I’m sitting with my brother, professional saxophonist Andrew Beal, in the County Clare Irish Inn & Pub in Milwaukee. We’ve got Irish saints watchin’ over us from stained glass windows: Ita, Malachy, Patrick (who was English originally, but nevermind, he’s Irish now as we Irish all well know), Colman, Kevin, and darling Brigid. Love that. While listening to the happy Irish fiddles through the speakers, you can read sayings written on the walls like these:
“There are no strangers here – only friends you haven’t met yet.”
“May the roof above us never fall in, and the friends below it never fall out!”
“It is impossible to be unhappy if you have a grateful heart.”
Then there are these two, which I like quite a bit: “Profanity makes ignorance audible” and “The pub’s the poor man’s university.” Well, amen. Even I might be able to learn a little Irish if someone will translate the Gaelic phrases on the wall … like this one: “céad míle fáilte!” It means “a hundred thousand welcomes!” It’s apparently a common greeting in the home country of my mother’s ancestors.
W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” is inscribed upon the walls, too. I know it, love it, and share it with all of you who can’t be with me now on this splendid adventure:
I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 5
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 10
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
The blessings of the Irish on everyone today!
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