As often happens in the lead up to St. Patrick's Day, my sentimentality for Ireland grows exponentially; I begin to wax poetic about my family, wistfully contemplate another year of St. Patrick's Day spent in Canada, and hum and sing more Irish folk songs than I will the rest of the year combined. (My apologies to my coworkers; they've put up with a lot of unusual sounds from my cubicle lately.) The past three nights, I've been singing "In the Rare Old Times".
Oh Ronnie Drew, with your distinctively deep voice and piercingly blue eyes (both of which still make me a little weak in the knees despite the 46 year age difference and the fact you've been dead for over two years), your version of this song will always be my favourite. I heard you sing The Auld Triangle when I was nine and I've loved you ever since.
Ireland has changed a lot in the 30 years I've been alive. Each time I return to see my family, I find something new. The peat bogs my dad used to take us out to are all gone. There's no need for peat when you have central heating so the bogs have been drained for farming. The donkeys that used to pull the farmer's carts to town even in the 80's have all been replaced with tractors. Dublin's north bank has undergone a major clean up since the days we used to drive through it coming down from Grannie's in Monaghan. All the cute, winding country lanes with their ridiculously fast speeds of 80kmh have been bypassed by the new dual carriageways which now cover the countryside.
Change is not an inherently bad thing but when it happens to a place you love and you're not there to watch it happen naturally, it can be a little shocking to the system upon your return.
With that in mind, I think I will sing this song before I go to bed. And Ronnie Drew, I hope I do you proud.
I'll save my rendition of The Auld Triangle for next St. Patrick's Day.