Garden of Remembrance

I met Terry while standing to take this photo, at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance. My Lonely Planet guide touted the friendliness of the Irish, saying you’d be greeted by a helpful local anytime you took out a map.

Terry, with his broken yellow teeth, faint smell of alcohol, and endearing smile, indeed offered his help as I checked my map en route to the Hugh Lane Gallery. I had my iPod in one ear, so misheard him when he told me he was “one of Ireland’s sons.” I thought he said “songs,” and loved the poetry of calling oneself music, particularly in a country that has produced so much music I love.

Once I’d assured Terry that I knew where I was going, he gestured at the Garden of Remembrance, telling me its story. I confessed to him that I’d known very little about Ireland’s history, how recently the country had struggled for its independence. The IRA battles, of course, were part of the background noise of news reports of my childhood, but I’d honestly not known that this lovely country had only been fully independent for just 60 years.

“Pray for the IRA,” Terry asked me. “They are misunderstood. They fought for Ireland. They fought so she could be free. Please,” he asked me, this New York girl he’d just met. “Pray for the IRA.”

“I’ll pray for peace, for everyone in Ireland,” I said. My knowledge of the current political situation is insufficient (and my awareness past violence adequate) to allow me to commit my allegiance to one side with this man on the street.

“That’s good,” Terry said. “Pray for peace, please pray for Ireland. And I will pray for your country, I will pray that God blesses your country.”

I wonder at Terry’s story. What has happened to him, what led him to the place where he is imploring strangers, with incredible sincerity, to pray for the IRA?

I was touched by the earnest, heartfelt plea for divine intervention from this slightly drunk Irish man in the street; by his love for his country and people, his cry for peace, and his generosity toward my own nation.

Terry completely challenged my perspective of the homeless man approaching me on the street. I’m glad I met this son of Ireland. He may have lost his way a little, but overall, I think she did a pretty good job raising him with what she had at the time.


1 Response to “Terry”

  1. 1 Jackie 2 May 2010 at 16:50

    Wonderful story! I’m not sure what it is about the folklore of Ireland …. I’ve never been even close to it, but can often feel the tug of it’s “magic” in a book, a story, or beautiful and haunting Celtic music. Wish I could have known those of our ancestors who actually were born and lived there all those many years ago. The red hair that Ella and I (and other members of our family, to some extent) share, {although mine is assisted by other than Mother Nature} is a legacy from our Irish Grandmother, Iva Mae.

    Keep up the wonderful blog … you have a beautiful flair for the written word, and make me feel as though I am there with you.

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