52 Deoch an Doras

“Deoch an dorais” is a common expression in Irish pubs and homes: it literally means “drink of the door,” but a more idiomatic translation would be “parting glass” or “one for the road.” There’s a popular song about this idea: it’s not simply about downing one more drink while you can but more about marking the resolution that must accompany a departure that is not eagerly anticipated—far from it. As the song “The Parting Glass” says,

 But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be with you all.

I’ve been saying goodbyes for the last few weeks—to people and places—and though I’m no drinker, I’ve often thought that a good swig of something strong would ease the process. True, I’ll be back here soon and often (I don’t deserve your pity as I have three trips to Ireland planned in the next thirteen months), but I won’t be living in Ireland for an extended period in the foreseeable future, and that makes me sad.

To end our sabbatical year, Ron and I planned a two week trip hitting favorite spots from past trips and including places we’ve always wanted to see. In spite of all the roads and lanes we’ve gone down in the last year (see map: the orange52 Map line shows our last trip, the pink lines show trips we’ve taken this year), as we drove around the country we couldn’t help but compile a new list—all the places we still want to visit, all the things we still want to do, all the towns, beaches, high crosses, pubs and restaurants, museums, lighthouses, monastic sites, lakes, mountains, birthplaces and graves, prisons, Big Houses, guided walks, and many more places and experiences we haven’t been able to fit it, not to mention all those we haven’t yet discovered.

When I started this blog last July, I wrote, “Over the coming year, I expect everything I think I know about this country to change—or at least to grow new roots and shoots”—possibly the understatement of the century. I haven’t even begun to take account of how much I’ve learned and, as an outcome of that learning and of being away from home, how much I’ve changed. Much of that transformation has been due to the travel, research, lectures, courses, reading, conversations, etc. that I have been able to plunge into this year. But a good deal of the transformation has come from the writing itself. This year I wrote fifty-two essays—some quite short, others rather long—and nearly 80,000 words. I’m proud of those numbers. While I had a lot to learn, I also discovered that I had a lot to say, and figuring out how to say it as best I could on a very tight schedule that I set for myself (post every Monday)–with a reading audience that responded immediately on Facebook, on the blog site, and via email–pushed me and motivated me more than any writing project has ever done. As a writing teacher, I take that lesson to heart and will try to incorporate aspects of this process in my teaching in some way. In due course, in some form or other, I hope to try to explore and explain what I’ve learned this year.

I am not yet sure of the future of A View From Here, but I know that I have enjoyed writing it and enjoyed your responses to it immensely—more than I could ever have imagined when I started out last summer, not knowing anything about what a blog could do or be. I send my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who read and to all of you who read and responded. Thanks to you, I never ran out of stories or inspiration. And it’s not over–I’ve started what is already a substantial list of the stories about Ireland I still want to tell. Like the “Wild Swans” at Coole and at the Grand Canal Dock that have played such an important part in my year in Ireland and in this blog, on the eve of my departure I feel that my stories, my ideas for stories, my questions about Irish literature and history, and my thoughts about the future of The View From Here are rising up and flying in all directions. I am seeing them

All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

Where they will fly to, where they will land, I can’t yet say. . .

Among what rushes will they build,
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

When I find out, you will be the first to know. In the meantime, “Sláinte” ([SLAWN-chya] “Health!”) as they say here, lifting a parting glass.“Good night and joy be with you all.”

 

The Parting Glass

(Clicking the title will take you to a rendition of the song.)

Of all the money that e’er I spent
I’ve spent it in good company
And all the harm that ever I did
Alas it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

If I had money enough to spend
And leisure to sit awhile
There is a fair maid in the town
That sorely has my heart beguiled
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips
I own she has my heart enthralled
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

Oh, all the comrades that e’er I had
They’re sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I had
They’d wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be with you all.

 


5 Comments

  1. Oh, how I’ll miss this blog. Monday mornings will not be the same without the chime indicating a new post by my dear Christine. Thank you for sharing your year in Ireland. Your words, your stories and lessons, were passionate and intimate, and highly entertaining.

    Please continue the blog. I want to see the view from wherever you are!!

    Sending love and wishing you and Ron safe travels.

  2. Christine

    Thank you, loyal reader! Hope you are mending well and staring down all flying tree limbs!

  3. Alfreda

    Has it been a year already? I can’t wait to see where you go from here. I have enjoyed every word.

    • Christine

      Thank you! Alfreda! Great to know you are out there reading.

  4. Christine, I LOVED your blog — you are such a talented writer and anything about Ireland warms my heart too. Glad we have reconnected — let’s keep that going!
    Have you ever been to Miltown Malby, a town on coast of County Clare — my great-grandfather’s home — it’s a very cool area, untouristy, real. And the scenery! xx Val

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