9 June 2022 afternoon. It’s my first day in New York City – Canal Street, Chinatown District – and I’m with two friends, one from Luth and one from Mayo, wondering which direction we need to go to find our hotel. Mobile data is very expensive, and open WiFi is proving surprisingly elusive, so we’re all alone with our minds here.
It’s not the hardest to figure out – we’re in the 200s, we need to get to building number 125, and the numbers keep dwindling as we climb down the street – but the adrenaline is pumping. This is exactly the kind of mild uncertainty I came across during my four-night vacation.
In my 29 years, I’ve lost once. It was at Dingle Mart, I was only a kid, and my father wouldn’t even be that far off if I had spent that minute watching instead of crying. To phrase things differently, I haven’t seen the world long enough to be lost, or so I’ve been told by people who say I need to broaden my horizons.
And as I was reminded at the airport, no matter where I go in Ireland other than Dingle Mart, I’ll never really get lost. My friends and I were sitting with a pint at Shannon’s for five minutes when a lady from Fatnacht came over and said hello to me.
It wasn’t the boldest start of my great adventure, but in Chinatown, things are already markedly different. I’ve never been offered a fake Rolex in Lios Poil, but it’s already been here twice, and I’ve never felt so alive.
Still reeling from the buzz of a cheap watch being offered at a low price, I could forgive myself for walking past our hotel, but I’ve kept my wits about me. 125 Canal Street. Leon. Around the corner from the Buddhist temple. My new home, 4,900 kms from Kerry.
As we sit down at the reception, my Louth travel partner points to a TV screen next to the check-in desk and says ‘Isn’t that Kerry?’. To his ‘sarcastic’ question, I sarcastically answer yes, only to see and realize that one of the recent Star Wars movies is on screen.
It’s actually Kerry. The first thing I see on a New York TV screen is Skilling Mitchell.
This is a coincidence.
9th June 2022 evening time.
After riding for a while on the metro away from Woodside in Queens, we are now on the subway leading to our destination, i.e. Woodside in Queens.
Yes, in the spirit of American adventure, we’re going to an Irish pub owned by a Listowl man. Kazan. Jim O’Sullivan is the owner of Sean Oggs.
We’ve been awake for almost 24 hours, “but we’re not tired either,” and even if we were, the sounds of a New York Rangers hockey game knock us into gear as we enter Sean Ogg.
We sit down, and the Louth Man tells me he saw a Listowl signpost behind the bar. I didn’t see it, but I don’t care; It’s hardly a Skellig Michill moment, given that a Listowel man runs the place.
Our waitress – from Monaghan – tells us that Jim isn’t inside, so I plan to surprise her. It wasn’t a very well-planned plan, in the end. Never mind, we’ve ordered some food and a pint, but from the moment we gulp down our drinks, we realize we’re finally exhausted. As soon as we are fed we leave, though with some added excitement when we hear we got a whiff at home. I don’t know Jim very well, but I’ve always liked him.
10 June 2022.
I’m at a New York Yankees game. They are facing the Chicago Cubs in a game known as baseball, which is exactly the kind of game I would love. it is tiring.
But when the PAs raise ‘YMCA’ slogans around the field, my interest is lost. I had planned to move away from Kerry, but not that far. We leave before the game is over.
On our way to the highly recommended Mean Fiddler, we stop at Connolly’s Bar on 45th Street for a post-match pint. We’re talking to the bar lady about Northern Ireland for some reason, and I make a wise point that I’ve learned about protocol, but she tells me she can’t understand my accent and she doesn’t like it. There’s no hope of doing it. , I’m sorry to be with Kerry. She laughs. We leave, but we take the pen we used to sign our receipt. Now we have seven pens.
We reach Mean Fiddler, and he has Tytos behind the bar. He also has a framed Kerry jersey; A 2004 vintage, I’d wager, is going by its double-yellow sleeves.
We talk to some of Monaghan’s men, only to be told that there is a Beaufort girl in their group. This is getting weird.
11 June 2022.
I need snacks. We walk to a nice spot in Little Italy, and on the way we pass ‘Kenmare Street’. This is getting weird.
We’re at Gray Dog, which serves breakfast all day, kindly seeing as it’s gone after noon. A waiter asks me if I’m fine, which I’m not, because I haven’t ordered food yet.
As we chat, I assume he has an Irish accent. We talk further, and I juggle his accent, even more familiar to him. Mine is for him too, it seems, as he asks me if I’m from Dingle.
I’m not at all – I’m Leos Poil – but he is.
His name is Sean O’Connor and he has been working here for the past six months. He asks me if I know his sister, and I know. She was a year below me in school.
He is a good friend and gives me coke at home. A free mineral goes down well because I know I am and should always be surrounded by Kerry, even in Manhattan.
I leave a $5 service tip; $2.50 because Cyan is an excellent waiter, $2.50 because he has attended the pobleskoil chorka dhuibhne.
14 June 2022.
I’m back at Kerry feeling like I never left, though I have so many ‘I love NY’ gifts. and covid.