Of Irish Bookshops, Cabbies and Poets

Recently I was in Dublin taking my youngest daughter to college. She’s decided to get her joint honors degree there, and we spent a good deal of time walking through the streets as well as taking cabs.

I should note that we arrived in Ireland on the day of Noble Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney’s funeral, which was rightly a case for mourning throughout Ireland and the literary world.

In a world growing less and less filled with the beauty of verse, Heaney was a much beloved figure, even beyond Ireland, which is a country that loves poets. Almost every cabbie who drove us had something to say about the death of Mr. Heaney, and I had one who quoted him extensively. (It was a lovely thing to hear “Bogland” recited in a delightful Dublin accent.)

It did occur to me, however, that the Irish have produced an inordinate share of great writers and poets. Perhaps it is because they seem to love books. In Dublin I counted numerous bookshops–not giant chains–but honest-to-God shops. There is for me something delightful about walking into a book shop. I believe it’s the smell of books; you breathe it in, and your mind begins to expand. You can’t get that from an electric device (and I do own one of those as well).

Because the weather was so delightful, I had the luxury of spending time just sitting in St. Steven’s Green with the other locals, reading and watching the ducks and swans and occasional heron. There was a certain magic to the experience.

I know Ireland, like the U.S., has been hit by a tsunami of economic problems, but it still retains a bit of it’s magic. As one of my wise cabbie friends said, “Oh, Ireland always calls you back. It’s possessed of a deep magic.”

Deep magic, indeed. He was right.