Friday, April 26, 2019

Wishing on the Blarney Stone


The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.

Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale.

By Gerd Eichmann - Own work, 
CC BY-SA 4.0,

Wishing on the Blarney Stone
Genre: Historical Recollections
(365 words)

During the self-guided tour, through enclosed areas and ramparts, we climbed the 127 steps to the top of the castle. We rested before approaching the Blarney Stone. Our cab driver Devlon offered practical details about the consistency of the stone, limestone of some sort. His wife Kerry focused more on the unlikelihood of any earthly gains through kisses and wishes.
In the spirit of tradition, we accepted the challenge of kissing the stone which required a bit of gymnastics. It involved lying down, bending slightly backwards while holding onto metal bars for support, and then stretching forward to kiss the stone. Half-jokingly, most wished for riches and fame. Others confessed to wishing for improved physique or heightened eloquence.
We descended slowly, stopping to view the countryside and winding river. Kerry wandered off on her own, overcome by reminders of Ireland’s history.
During a circuit of the gardens, we discovered an ancient cemetery. We roamed the grounds, touching headstones. We created imagined lives between recorded birth and death dates, the only biography allotted to most people as they crossed over to whatever awaits all of us.
Kerry caught up with us in the parking lot. Apparently, the Blarney Stone had kept its promise to her about eloquence. She had spoken little on the way to the castle but was unable to stop talking on the return trip. Devlon drove while Kerry shared her knowledge of Irish history based on stories handed down from ancestors.

Only months later, after translating the scribblings in my notebook, was I able to piece together the information Kerry shared on the return trip from Blarney Castle. Although the bitterness of her recollections bled through as she spoke, I had ignored the devastation such memories must wreak upon the soul. Back in Wisconsin, further research corroborated much of what she had related concerning the effects of famine on the Irish population.
Even the role England played in the spiraling conditions proved accurate. But the image of vile degradation imposed on her ancestors, as she described the slow wasting away of bodies, the inhumane burials of multitudes, and the stark fear devouring the living, is not something easily assimilated on a well-nourished belly.


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