[This dates back to a time, in the late 1990s, when I wrote a monthly column for theNewfoundland Telegram about connections between Ireland and Newfoundland, where I had been brought up for a while and visited a number of times since.]
It’s just after lunch on Friday 19/11/1999. An odd day in more than one sense of the word. In fact, there will not be another day quite so completely odd until 1/1/3111 - in that all the digits in today’s date are odd numbers. (The next truly even day will be 2/2/2222.)
It’s also odd in another sense of the word because this is to be my last column in The Telegram for the foreseeable future. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope that a few others have too. It has, I believe, been a worthwhile communication, but a far more important one has yet to be achieved.
That is: somebody needs to convince one of the Irish papers to host a column about Newfoundland. Because, while the vast majority of people in Newfoundland know something of Ireland, the inverse is sadly not true. As I have said in this column on numerous occasions, too few people in Ireland are aware of the province and the warm welcome and great times that awaits them there.
It is odd too today because the person who made the link allowing me to start writing this column is by sheer coincidence back in Dublin today, and I just had a liquid lunch with him and a few of his mainlander friends in town.
Their experience of Dublin until meeting me was odd in the extreme. Their first drink was in a strip mall. They ate in Eddie Rockets Diner. The first music they heard was Mary Chapin Carpenter live. The only thing they had seen on TV was Oprah. Not the Ireland of the myth.
Some degree of normality was restored as we all sat down in the dark and dingy atmosphere of a good old-fashioned Irish pub to a feed of Guinness. Around a table full of elegant pints of perfectly pulled porter, we chatted about Ireland and Canada. One declared how odd it was that no one in Ireland wore sunglasses.
In not being either Canadian or Irish, the American in the group was an odd one out. He spent a while at the bar asking the barman the secrets of pulling a good Guinness, only to join us at the table with a pint of lager.
The other odd one out in the group was odd because he wasn’t drinking at all, but very soon the sight of six lads tucking into the drink famous for having “both eatin’ and drinkin’” in it, drove him to the bar, gasping like a character from Father Ted: ‘Drrrrrink!’
It is odd also in that since I got back to work from my liquid lunch all the phone lines in the office have been down and no one has been able to do any work. That was oddly fortunate in that I was able to write this without feeling guilty about not doing any work.
Finally, it is an odd day because I have just found out that one of the Newfoundlanders visiting Ireland, about whom I wrote in this column, has died tragically at the age of 37. I would like to take this opportunity of extending my deepest sympathies to anyone who knew Jamie Morry of X-wave Solutions – a truly excellent ambassador for the unique charms of Newfoundland.
If anyone has odd experiences from 19/11/1999 to relate, do share them with me.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And, until we meet again, may the Lord
Keep you in the hollow of his hand.
PS Anyone want to employ an out-of-work columnist?