Travel Writing by Cory Hanson

Irish Lasts


I remember many of my Irish firsts. Even without looking back to the July/August archive of the Old Blog, I can picture myself stumbling around the city, naively looking for street signs, supermarkets, and more than one electrical outlet in a room. I remember seeing my first magpie; my first Irish slug; my first Irish trout — in the River Dodder, of course.

I remember my first chocolate digestive biscuits (anyone who has visited me here knows what I’m talking about) and my first wine gums. I remember thinking, cheese and onion as a potato chip flavor? What are these people thinking!? until I tried my first bite from the surprisingly racist bag of Tayto crisps. (The cartoon Tayto mascot looked back at me from the bag in a very stereotypical Native American Indian headdress and tasseled regalia, promoting the baffling Wild West theme park run by Ireland’s most popular potato-frying company.)

I remember doing laundry in our two-in-one washer/dryer unit for the first time and wondering why my clothes were neither dry nor particularly clean as they came out. I remember my first trip to Dublin’s city centre as a tourist/resident, wandering the streets with wide-eyed wonder even though my bed was now only a few miles down the road. I remember my first pint (Cory trivia: it was actually a Bulmer’s cider, not a Guinness).

Our first pints beer Dublin Ireland

Our first pints

But now, with our time in Ireland coming to be measured in weeks — and soon, days — I’m finding myself wondering about Irish lasts. What will be my last bag of racist potato crisps? My last load of laundry in that same wet, spinny thing under our tiny apartment microwave? What will be in the glass when I have my last pint, and will it also be at McCloskey’s in Donnybrook?

I was reminded of this by, of all things, an empty sack of potatoes.

We have no way of finishing another big sack of Irish rooster potatoes, so once the last sprouty spuds of this bag were gone, they were gone. I’ve already sold my fishing rod, so I’ve made my last cast into the pools and runs of the Dodder, and with this spring’s big Dodder Day cleanup, I’ve led my last team of volunteers in cleaning its bed and banks.

Soon, I’ll be taking my last bike ride through the city. Where will I go? What will be worth seeing? Should I try to ride up to the National Botanic Gardens again, or was our annual tulip visit earlier this year the last time I’ll see Daniel O’Connell’s tower rising over the wall over the kitchen garden? Will I ever have reason to get all the way out to, say, the Poolbeg Lighthouse at the end of the mile-long jetty? It’s a Dublin icon, sure, but do I have any specific need to see it up close one more time? How about Howth? Will I get out there again before we go wheels-up?

Baily Lighthouse

Howth’s Baily Lighthouse

In all of the chaos and hubbub of moving, I’ve made a vow a point to take a simple mental note of my Irish lasts. I don’t think I need to record the gory details — for myself or for this blog — of my day-to-day Dublin duties as I finish the Irish chapter of my life. I’ve moved before (obviously), and have always come out spiritually hale and hearty on the other side. Nostalgia, while bittersweet, has never been a paralyzing force in my life, and I can’t imagine myself sitting in our comfortable house in Colorado — another one of the world’s most beautiful places — and crying myself to sleep in a fit of Irish homesickness.

Besides, who says I’ll never be back to see the beautiful countryside, dynamic cities, and colorful, caring characters that have made my time in Ireland so much fun?

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