My brother and I didn't always share the same "likes," but one of our common grounds was music. We both loved it and we both loved knowing something about it. This is, however, pretty much where it begins and ends.
Van was child of the 70s while I got my groove on with 60s music. When it came to the 70s, I stuck to a lighter rock; Van enjoyed the heavier stuff.
We did agree on a couple of groups, though: The Eagles and Queen. And, we both agreed that there are few guitarist like Joe Walsh or singers who can belt out a tune quite like Freddie. And we both enjoyed watching biographies about the singers and the bands; Van would often save them on his DVR for me to watch (and him to re-watch) with him during my visits "back home."
During our last visit--the one in between hospital stays--we enjoyed a biographic interview with Steve Perry.
Yeah. He's another good one!
Where we differed the most was in my love for an older tune--Frank Sinatra and Doris Day, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald--and my affinity for folk music, both Americana and Irish. After all, my DNA reports that I'm more English/Irish/Scottish than anything at all.
But music ... we both loved music.
Clare and I left The Burren and drove on toward Doolin, which is no more than a village, really, on Ireland's west coast. By now the rain had turned to mist and a fog had rolled in as the sun dipped closer to the horizon. If it was there at all.
Still, the hour was fairly early.
We easily found the B&B where we'd made reservations weeks before. The structure was more cottage than anything else and, for a moment, I felt as if I'd stepped onto another movie set. The stacked stone wall around it, the white-wash paint, the country blue trim around windows, some yawning, some tightly shut. We got out of the car and dashed across tiny bits of rock that crunched beneath our shoes, then knocked on the front door, painted blue like the trim, and waited for someone to greet us.
The owner of the house opened the door and hurried us inside and out of the rain, then told us his name as we signed the guestbook. Clare returned by saying, "My name is Clare, spelled like the county."
"Ah, yes," he said, his brogue thick. "That will be easy to remember."
"And I'm Eva Marie," I told him, my accent American and Southern.
"Now that won't be so easy to remember," he quipped.
"Sure it is," I told him. "Eva, like Eve--the first woman. And Marie, like Mary, the mother of Jesus."
He laughed, then showed us our room while giving us the "this and that" details.
We were both dying for the warmth of a shower, but I asked, "Where's the best place in town for dinner?"
"Ah," he said. "That would be McGann's!"
I glanced at my phone for the time. "We should take our showers and then go," I said to Clare.
"Oh, no," our host told us. "If you want a seat at McGann's, you'd best be leaving now."
So, still wet and cold, Clare and I walked back out into the misty rain. I tugged my baseball cap lower over my face and Clare flipped her hoodie over her damp, blond hair. We stepped to the road and turned right to begin our trek into the village (no need to drive; it wasn't that far). Shortly, we came to an old stone bridge where the Aille River rushed beneath and berries grew on clustered vines strewn with webs that glistened with dew above. I paused for a moment to take a photo and to watch the water gush over the rocks.
My breath caught in my throat.
There was something .... I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
A feeling that I had been there before. That I had peered from this bridge and to that water. Of course, I had not, but I could not help but wonder if someone in my bloodline--some great-great-grandmother or aunt or other relative--had. And if, somehow, the memory had carried from one life to the next until it rested inside me.
Within minutes we entered McGann's where we were welcomed by a bartender who asked if he could make us a drink to "help chase away the cold."
Shortly, we were led to a table in a back corner and presented with menus.
I cannot remember what Clare ordered, but I remember my order very well. Beef stew (the beef soaked in Guinness, I learned afterward), that was so delicious, so hearty, I wanted nothing more than to somehow have it at every meal for the rest of my life (they serve it with two large scoops of fluffy mashed potatoes in the center).
As the restaurant filled to capacity and folks elbowed in as best they could, we learned that an Irish folk band was soon to play. We were both ecstatic (although I admit, my stamina was beginning to slip). But then we heard the players warming up their instruments in the next room. Ah, there is nothing like those Uilleann pipes to bring back your energy!
The excitement grew in the crowd; like us, they had come to McGann's to eat and drink, yes ... but they had most especially come to hear the music!