Talking to some people at home the other night, I mentioned that everyone I met here in Ireland has been incredibly friendly. It is to the point that I can ask any person on the street for directions and they are more than happy to point out the right way to go. I’ve been lost with some of my classmates in the city more than our fair share of times, owing to my horrible sense of direction, and people walking by overhearing our debates on which way we should go will just stop and help us out. Those back home seemed surprised to hear this; they’ve never been to Ireland and they had the assumption that the Irish were a bit standoffish to strangers. I don’t know where this assumption came from, because the Irish are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. Part of this hospitality comes in the form of sharing stories.
There’s nothing quite like hearing an Irish person tell a story.The Irish have an appreciation for storytelling quite unlike any other culture I’ve experienced; nothing is so well liked as a good storyteller (except maybe for a pint of Guinness, of course). The magic of an Irish story, however, lies not so much in the story itself as in the person telling it. My classmates and I saw a play by the name of “The Gigli Concert” yesterday evening. The play details the story of a severely depressed man seeking the help of a quack psychiatrist who is a proponent of a made-up movement called ‘dynamatology.’ Throughout the course of the play, the two men switch places. The depressed man slowly gets better as the quack doctor loses his mind. The play is touted as a look into the Irish male conscious. As I mentioned, however, the story itself is not so important as the person or people telling it.
I do not think I have seen a more beautifully and masterfully acted play in my entire life. The actors told the story in such a way that it became real for me. I believed the emotions in the play and felt them myself. I watched the two characters struggle against their personal demons to try and just make it through one more day. It was captivating, and it was at the end of it that I realized that the reason it was so captivating was not because of the writing itself, which was brilliant, but because of the humans that brought the writing alive. One can write the most beautiful prose in the world, but if there are no human elements to it, it is going to mean nothing. If there is one thing I learned from watching “The Gigli Concert,” it is that a truly memorable story is that which moves us to emotion, that which evokes a reaction. Watching the Irish actors, I realized why the Irish literary tradition is so strong; they are experts at making a story produce emotion in its readers. They are expert storytellers. As a writer myself, I hope one day I can spin a tale half as well as the hospitable Irishman.