On Saturday night, my wife and I saw The Chieftains in concert thanks to the generosity of a friend. After the show as we were driving home, I hesitated to, but went ahead and told my wife how I felt. From about 3 minutes into their playing, I got strangely emotional. Wet eyes emotional. We were only a few feet from the stage and you could not only see these traditional Irish musicians who have been doing this for 50 years, and hear them, but you could also feel them. Anyway, it affected in a way I did not expect. We’ve been listening to their music for about 12 years now but I was surprised at how much I was being moved by the music, singing, and dancing.
One day I was in the living room and going through the sideboard drawers where my mom stored dishes only brought out when company came over. I’m not sure why I was looking through there. Probably looking for rubber bands or whatever would induce a boy around the age of ten to go looking through such furniture. In there I found a – not sure what to call it – a banner…small quilt, whatever, with these symbols lined across it in rows. There were dozens of them all over and they were all – for the most part – white and laid upon the red of the banner, they looked royal. Each one had some name upon it. One of them immediately caught my eye and caused me no small excitement because of the name on it.
Come to find out, these were family crests. “Wait, we have a family crest?! And we are Irish?”
“Where is Ireland?” was most likely my first question.
Since that day, I’ve been fascinated by all things Irish. Books and music have fed my imagination for years. And we once even considered doing missions in Ireland. It was short-lived but serious, nevertheless.
So I told my wife, she said she felt the same and then proceeded to tell me a story. When her parents went to Scotland for the first time, her mom said that even though she had never been there before it felt familiar, it felt like home. And that was my first thought when during the concert I became overcome with a painfully beautiful longing I could not explain except to say it felt like home – a home, that Emerald Isle – I’ve never been to but would know by feel if not by sight.