….is a wish for a “Happy feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome” day. Is that a mouthful or what? Certainly not as much a mouthful as just about anything sung in Irish. We went up to the O’Connell House in Dublin yesterday to provide music for the monthly ACE mass and had a lovely time singing about God’s house and holy temples and making ourselves temples for the Lord. The priest spoke to us about being the hands and feet and mouth and eyes of Jesus, which really hit home when addressed to a roomful of Catholic school teachers and lay persons! We had a great discussion about where we have experienced God’s church in our world recently, and it was great to hear about the struggles and joys of many. We capped the evening with a fabulous performance by Elaine’s father who was quite the talented guitarist. All those who were Irish, or who had been there long enough to know the songs sang along and when we came to one that sounded familiar, I just sang the words to Canticle of the Turning while everyone else sang the same tune to somewhat different lyrics.
Early yesterday morning, Nicole and I went in to Kennedy Park to begin preparing for a class mass with one of the 4th class groups. Afterward at our Parish team meeting, we were talking about how pleasant it was to visit the classrooms in the morning, when most pupils are wide awake and most brains are still fresh. (emphasis on most…while the rest of his classmates were shaking their heads, one sleepy boy nodded his head “yes” when I asked if just anyone could get up and be the priest at mass.) We typically go in the afternoon, when the kids seem to have somehow been mysteriously injected with caffeine and laughing gas and “sit down in your chair” means “stand on the table, yell like a Viking, and throw your pencil box at your neighbor.” Well, it’s not that bad, but honestly, you may as well throw the towel in on a Friday afternoon in primary school classrooms. Father Martin said, well, at least they got your names right. When I looked at him quizzically, he said that sometimes he walks into the younger classes and they all say, “Good Morning, God.” But I suppose if you’re going to be mistaken for someone else, that’s not a bad misnomer.
In other news, we’ve begun preparations for our joyous Thanksgiving celebration, complete with construction paper turkeys, recipes from our families out the wazoo, and all the other fixin’s. I have a feeling we’re going to look mighty strange wheeling several carts through the grocery store stacked to the brim with turkeys, piles of vegetables, and maybe a pumpkin or two. They’ll probably think we’re sick of the weather and are now trying to hibernate.
Since we’re all about learning and being a part of a new culture, here is a very long story about how I attempted that. I won’t be offended if you skip this very long story. It’s rather, you know, long. The other day I had noticed an advertisement for the Wexford Races on a Sunday afternoon. Cool, I thought. I like horses and racing and spectacles of all sorts. So I biked myself over to the stadium? Arena? Racetrack? Bought a ticket, and made my way into this:
I had no idea what all these people were standing around for, it was raining (surprise), and there was not a horse in sight. Well, in
person animal, anyway. There were tons of screens set up with races occurring left and right. I had an “aha” moment when I realized that people must just come here to bet on the races around the country. But I went over to an important-looking desk anyway and asked the lady behind the counter, “umm, are there actually horses here today or…umm…?” She didn’t respond; just looked at me suspiciously, as if waiting for me to crack a smile so she’d know that I was joking. She didn’t know that I wasn’t actually joking. So I just put my embarrassed tail between my now thoroughly soaked legs (did I mention that it was raining?) and went to stand with the men of Wexford who were all calling out words which I hope were not horses names and marking things down on big sheets of paper. Here’s a paper I found on the ground:
I would venture to say that the slip didn’t belong to one of those men. Finally, after wandering around blindly enough, I was fixin’ to cut my 8 euro loss and just call it a day, when a bunch of small men in very colorful outfits walked out of the stables area. I figured either they were now bringing in a batch of clowns to confuse me even more OR the jockies were here to do what they do best! I’m SO very thankful it was the latter. Here are some pictures:
Within about 15 minutes, the horses and jockeys were all warmed up and trotting to the track. The mass of betting/ yelling/ standing-under-umbrella-ing people moved to the stands to watch the four minute spectacle. The man next to me asked me some question in secret horse-betting code, so I just stared down at a sheet I’d found and muttered the name of a horse (at least I think it was a horse…Poker Hontas isn’t a game, right?) As they rounded the final bend, some people were getting excited, some were getting rather worked up, and others were turned around facing the back of the stands?? I wanted to tell them that they were missing the race, but I’m pretty sure they knew, from the grimacing yet hopeful expression on their faces. When the jockey-clad horses finally galloped through the final furlong, the man next to me was so ecstatic that he actually gave me a hug! Well, come to think of it, I’m not entirely sure it was a hug. It felt more like an upside-down roller coaster harness clamp. Who says Wexford people aren’t friendly?!
After the horses had completed their many kilometers, everyone floated off the stands, people went back to their bizarre umbrella posts, and Emily went back to pretending like she knew what she was doing. At least my question of “are there horses” had, in fact, been answered. And this process went on all day, about every half an hour. So now you’re an expert on horse racing in Ireland. And it only took one very long re-cap story.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, and as a reward, here is a fella closing down the night at one of the singing pubs. We had all attended in our various Halloween costumes, and for awhile, I think we were getting more attention than the performers. The newspaper representative even came over to snap a picture of all of us.