My short stay at Tipperary was already over, but before I headed back to the Midlands I stopped for lunch at my friend Joan’s in Hymenstown. Lunch with Joan is a wonderful treat. The only concession to her age (91 or 92) is that she walks with sticks, at least when she remembers them. Joan is American. She and her husband Bill, who died a couple of years ago, had their honeymoon in Ireland, back when it was possible to cycle everywhere. They fell in love with the island, and eventually bought a place here. I’ve never been in the main house—Joan and Bill moved out some years ago when all the stairs became too difficult and switched into a refurbished cottage just behind the big house. It’s small (although still with a flight of stairs), somewhat rambling and very comfortable.
For lunch we had soup the Joan made from vegetables in the garden, and artichokes that were also grown there. It was warm enough to sit on the small patio, right next to the glorious garden. Joan tells the gardener to just let the garden grow, and it does, spilling over the low fences and over a pergola in big blocks of bloom. Immediately behind the cottage is a small stream that runs through the woods that surround the houses. Joan loves to walk there but we didn’t have time today. The whole place has an air of natural calm, peaceful but very much alive and vibrant with life. After lunch we took a quikc trip to a neighboring garden. It was the antithesis of Joan’s, all formal walkways and groomed allées and pollarded beeches, surrounded by controlled meadows and a mounded maze.
On the drive up I listened to RTE1, a cross between NPR and talk radio—chat shows, traffic reports, sports on Saturdays, lots and lots of weather forecasts and plenty of ads. One of the afternoon presenters, Ray D’Arcy I think, was interviewing a woman from Dallas about the recent horrific violence there. I didn’t hear who she was or how he found her (there was a reference to some public role that she plays in Dallas that I didn’t catch). But what she stood for was not in question. During the 10 minutes or so of her interview, she spouted nearly every racist platitude that could be said on the air, with the self-righteous smugness of someone who has never questioned her position on any value she holds. She blamed #blacklivesmatter for the shootings, explained that she grew up and went to school with “the blacks” and that there was never any problem until Obama was elected. Obama had created the rifts in the country; before he became president everyone just got along.
“Don’t get me started on Obama; I could talk all day.”
She had no sympathy for Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, who was calm and dignified as she livestreamed her boyfriend’s shooting. According to the Dallas woman, Reynolds was too calm, evidently proof of something that she could not articulate but that Megyn Kelly of Fox News had also pointed out.
“I would have have been screaming. I would have been shouting. I would have been going after that officer.”
Although a couple of minutes later she stated that police officers should always be given the benefit of the doubt and never questioned. Except, evidently, if she is doing it.
D’Arcy did have a second woman on, one who, when she was finally invited to speak, attempted to point out the evident racism of the first woman. She was not given time to do this—clearly the racist made much better radio. This is what this nation hears about America. Trump must seem more believable to Irish people after rants like this one. It’s stunning how much it hurts to have the U.S. represented in this way.
What a lovely little cottage and garden! That’s my dream place, a small cottage surrounded by a flour and vegetable garden, with woods nearby. Joan sounds like a wonderful lady, I wonder what her take is on all the goings on in the U.S. It seems like to the worst of our country is coming out these days—violence, hatred, racism—terrible. I could say that I’m glad I’m here in Italy and not in the U.S., but maybe I’m just glad to be insulated from everything that is going on there. I read the NY Times, New Yorker, and SF Chronicle every day (probably too much) and it’s so difficult to keep some perspective on things. Many of our Brit friends here in Florence are totally stressed about the Brexit situation and it’s disturbing to reading about the actions many people are taking toward recent immigrants in the U.K.
I’m totally enjoying your blog, Kathy, many thanks.