Wise Counsel From Ireland


On a recent trip to Paris for the month of June to celebrate my 60th birthday, my friend, Sue, and I took a trip to visit John Joe and Josephine Nolan Lynch in the beautiful coastal town of Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland.

Josephine and I met the previous summer at Oxford University’s Summer Courses, in Oxford England where we became fast friends. We’d meet each morning for the gorgeous breakfast to fortify us for the day of classes. I was enrolled in the writing department’s “Writing Your Narrative To Script” for which I had high hopes (and still do) of creating a stage play from my recently published book, “Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief.”

There were over 100 students from all over the world taking courses ranging from writing, archaeology, metallurgy, physics and so on. For me, this was a dream come true experience of being a student at Oxford University and being in community with international students and writers, in particular.

Josephine and I remained in email contact through the coming year, promising to meet again as soon as we could. That opportunity came this past June when she and John Joe graciously hosted us at their beautiful home in Kilkee.

One of the best parts of our visit, and there were many BEST parts, were the ever growing words of counsel from both Josephine and John Joe, but especially John Joe. Dead pan, Irish brogue, funnier than hell saying came to John Joe out of every conversation we had about anyone and anything.

The following are some of Sue and my favorites:

“I might be shy, but I’m willing.” That was his contribution to how he sees most men in situations involving a woman; or at least, for sure, his experience.

“Fair Play.” This was explained as an old Irish saying that was a concession to another in a debate, yet clearly the person saying it was intent on winning. The actual entire saying is, “Fair play is good sport but don’t mess with me.”

“Adjectives, use them.” This John Joe encouraged us to add in when speaking to him about anything to do with him. For instance, “Thank you, John Joe, for making this mornings coffee. You are a scholar and a gentleman. A vision of a true man of the world…” and so on.

“I express myself fully.” Yep, he did.

“May angels be on your pillow"? This most beautiful saying was said to both Sue and me each evening when heading up to our bedrooms. How peacefully we slept those fresh, Irish nights. We were sure it was the air there that was so intoxicating. It’s impossible to describe, yet, for sure, it was the wish for a safe sleep from Josephine that ended our evenings with joy.

“What the eye don’t see, the heart won’t grieve.” John Joe. Enough said.

“But you can act like you’re pissed.” John Joe said this to Sue and me when visiting their local pub with he and Josephine. Neither of us drink and wondered how out of place we’d feel within this close knit, intimate group of drinkers who met most nights, especially on the weekend to share the stories of their day. He encouraged us to ‘act as if.’

“I’m mentally refreshing you.” John Joe, of course.

“The man who made time made plenty of it.” John Joe would quip this out when Josephine was sure we were going to be tardy for something.

And lastly my two favorites:

“I don’t have enough brains to have a headache.” This said by Josephine when she forgot or misplaced something. Sue and I could relate totally.

“He was trying to be nice and she called him a bastard. She was a proper bitch.” I can’t remember exactly of whom he spoke however, the point was well taken.

Debra Whittam is the author of “I'm I Going to be Ok?" For any media inquiries or questions please contact: Contact@DebraWhittam.com

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