Wednesday, April 19, 2017


What do you think of when somebody says “Ireland”? St. Patrick, leprechauns and rainbows, right? I think St. Patrick matters more to people in this country than in Ireland, and I don’t think I’ve met a leprechaun yet (although there was this one guy…), but the rainbows are definitely real.

I forgot to mention “green” on that list. Ireland is definitely green, at any time of the year. Why? It rains a lot. Not long stretches of gloomy days, but more like passing showers that don’t last long. If you call up the local weather on your cell phone, it changes about hourly: rain/sun/rain, and so on. And that’s what produces the rainbows. You need sun shining on the rain at the right angle to create them.

I didn’t see a rainbow until I was sixteen. I was walking home from school and got caught in a downpour, but near the end of the walk I looked up and there it was. I didn’t mind that I was soaking wet.

When I first visited Ireland with my husband and daughter, there were rainbows. I wasn’t keeping count, but it was fewer than ten, although that still seemed like a lot to me. And they’d show up when you were least expecting them, like when you were walking down a street it a town and you happened to look up, and there it was.

Then came the Irish trip my husband and I took in 2011. We rented a cottage on a hill in Ballyriree in West Cork (which of course turned out to have belonged to some branch of the Connolly family—that happens to me a lot over there). The kitchen had large windows on two sides. The front of the house faced east, and I could sit at the kitchen table at the back and watch the rainbows appear in the west. Every morning, like clockwork, at 8:30. Look, it’s rainbow time! They’d come and go, as the morning showers moved through. Sometimes they were doubles. Sometimes there was more than one at a time. It was a wonderful free show, and it went on for most of the two weeks we spent there.

But that wasn’t all: the rainbows started chasing us. We visited the townland where my father’s family had lived: yup, rainbows. We’d be driving from somewhere to somewhere else: more rainbows. It became kind of a running joke. Hey, where's the rainbow?

We stayed at that cottage, and one next to it, in following years, but never saw as many rainbows again.

Then came the day when my husband and I first saw what was to be “my” cottage. I was driving, following the estate agent (realtor) along the typical narrow winding roads. In Drinagh we turned off the main road onto one that went up and down and turned corners and went over a bridge and so on, and when we came to a straight stretch I looked up and there right ahead of me was the brightest rainbow I had ever seen. Of course it ended right over the cottage. I figured it was an omen.

Couldn’t exactly stop for a picture, but there will be more rainbows. The dining/everything room at the cottage faces more or less west, so on a showery morning, I can sit at my dining table and watch for rainbows out the big glass doors.