If you were to amble about the streets of any Irish city or perhaps an Irish institution such as the one that I attend, you would likely overhear a few (possibly more than a few) odd phrases exchanged between the Irish people. One that particularly tickles my fancy is “what’s the craic” (craic is pronounced ‘crack’). Imagine, for a second, being unfamiliar with the Irish dialect (as I was when I arrived) and hearing in passing ‘”that was some good craic (again, it sounds like crack) last night, mate”. After hearing the word used a few different ways, I decided that it was more likely that the Irish had their own meaning for this word rather than it really meaning what I knew it to mean. It is actually just another word for fun or entertainment; “what’s the craic?” is the Irish equivalent of asking “what’s going on?” in the U.S. Nonetheless, I still can’t help applying that old meaning every now and then; it provides for some good, wholesome entertainment. Here’s a few common phrases using the word that you might hear any proper Irish lad or lady mutter; have yourself a go at it and try not to crack*** a smile …
“Where’s the craic tonight?”
“The craic was proper last night”
“Let’s go to ___, I hear the craic is mighty”
“What’s the craic”
The craic has, indeed, been quite mighty since I arrived here what feels like forever ago. I would be remise not to mention the craic had at the St. Patrick’s festival in Dublin. It was certainly mighty. The festival officially kicked off on Thursday and continued on, almost without stop, until the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The city was bursting at the seems with excitement and every last pub and restaurant was packed to the gills. Despite the immense crowds, a sense of celebration and repose drifted lazily about the city. There was hardly a worry of any danger, as is usually not the case when celebrations of these degree take place. I can’t really explain this other than to say that I’ve found the Irish to a more relaxed people as a whole. It’s been rejuvenating to ease the gas pedal for a bit. Despite this air of calmness the Irish seem to have, they are no less productive than others. There is value in hard work, but there is also value in the ability to step away from one’s stressors every once and awhile and to take a deep breath. I find myself better motivated after doing so. And after all, our time here is scarce.
The other day I was having a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s that was convenient at the time, and I couldn’t help but to overhear the family sitting in the booth behind me. After the father brought over everyone’s food, I heard him direct them to join hands and to bow heads. He then commenced a long and deeply reverent grace, thanking God for their health and for the food sitting on the table. This was the first time I’d ever heard anyone say grace at McDonald’s. I was moved by this type of reverence, and I started to wonder about my own faith. It occurred to me that the reason this type of homage is called grace is because, simply, there is grace in reverence. It inspired me to attend mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral that Sunday. Whatever your beliefs may be, I think most might agree that life is a gift, and to be thankful for that gift is good. If nothing else, it is a practice in humility.
“Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know” -Alan Watts