The master says it’s a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it’s a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I wonder if there’s anyone in the world who would like us to live. My brothers are dead and my sister is dead and I wonder if they died for Ireland or the Faith. Dad says they were too young to die for anything. Mam says it was disease and starvation and him never having a job. Dad says, Och, Angela, puts on his cap and goes for a long walk.
— Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
We throw about words like “history” to explain phenomena about which either we shared observation/participation or we’ve jointly learned.
The odd objects we call books are evidence of this history we speak of.
We debate the pronunciation of labels for things, asking, “Is it the ‘alf Penny Bridge or the Ha’ Penny Bridge?” when a wise one steps in and says, “Neither. It’s the Liffey Bridge.”
‘Twas a fine morning, the hills covered in mist, looking forward to a soft day of light rain when we set out on foot across the dewy field.
We held hands during our jaunt across the Emerald Isle, in search of…
Not history, exactly.
What had we set out to discover for ourselves that millions of padding feet hadn’t already?
We weren’t sure.
But we were sure of our direction, heading west.
Looking for gilded pages and turf fires.
Wearing our galoshes when needed.
Else, it was unplanned.
Our families had passed this way generations before, leaving little in the way of familial lore.
‘Twas our turn to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs.
We might be “feckin’ tourists” to a few but we paid our own way and most of the locals were glad of the coinage we left behind in these tough times.