IRISH JESUS

ennis centre

'Why did you piss her off' he asked.

'What do you mean?

'She walked by a few times asking you to put away your laptop before takeoff' he continued.

I explained to my seatmate how I needed to finish the last few words of my post before the plane took off. He seemed to understand and the conversation took off from there.

He took notice of the empty seat in between us and stated one of us could use it to sleep over two seats. I said he could have it as I could not sleep on flights. He stated he also couldn't sleep on planes but he would try.

We spent most of the 5 1/2 hour flight talking about everything and nothing. He told me he is Irish and was on his way to visit family in Galway. He went on to tell me he moved to the States thirty years ago, residing in New York, and has a wife and two kids - a girl and a boy.

His wife gave him the trip as a combination birthday/Christmas present to go see his aging parents. His wife's mother has just suffered a heart attack so she wanted her husband to take advantage of the time still available whilst his parents were still well. I thought it was a lovely gesture and a beautiful gift.

Albeit Irish, I was able to understand my seatmate. At one point he asked me if I understood what he was saying. 'Yes', I replied. He commented on having difficulty at times understanding the native Irish as he had been away from his country for many decades. I told him I found it difficult to understand some Irish people.

Listening to Irish people speak is at times akin to hearing a language you've studied in school but one where you have to pay really close attention to. You need to have focus. Even then I sometimes could not make out what they were saying.

The drink cart passed our way and he ordered Jameson for himself and asked me if I'd like one as well. I told him I would try one but was not fond of hard liquors in general. I placed the drink on my sloping tray and sipped on it for a while.

Dinner was being served and the choices were chicken curry or beef shepherd's pie. I inquired about a vegetarian option but was informed the choice needed to be selected at time of ticket booking. I denied a meal whilst my seatmate chose the chicken curry.

He looked at me and asked why I didn't simply get any option, that I would be hungry later, and I had already paid for it. He also said if I get the beef option, I could give him the main dish and he would give me everything else. I agreed and we swapped out foods. As we were doing so, I managed to knock over the last few sips of my whiskey onto my lap. I didn't give it too much though and continued with my salad, bread, and cheese dinner.

I must have been hungrier than I'd believed as the guy looked over at me commenting on the fact I had not yet put down my fork. I had not eaten much that day and was hungry for something other than the two bags of M&Ms I consumed. The woman at the Austin airport convinced me to get the larger bag as it was the same price. Good point, but that meant eating much more of a candy I rarely ate in the first place.

After dinner, we continued to talk some more. I told him I was going to see my boyfriend for eleven days and how we are dating across the ocean. He inquired as to how often we speak. I told him every day via email, Skype, and texting. Not a day goes by without our talking with each other. I showed him photos of my three children, told him about making challah bread, and chatted as if we had been old friends catching up. I asked him what he did for a living. 'I'm a carpenter' he replied.

We arrived in Shannon an hour earlier than planned this morning. He gathered his bag and went ahead of me whilst I stayed to place my laptop in my backpack. I was not in a hurry because my boyfriend wasn't arriving until 6am. As I exited the plane, I noticed my seatmate standing at the doors. He told me he wanted to wait for me to tell me goodbye. It reminded me of another situation in Dublin after the concert.

At the baggage carousel, I found my little red duffle bag and said goodbye to the guy. He shook my hand, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and said maybe we'd see each other again one day in the future. The Irish are friendly people indeed.

As I walked away, I realized we had never exchanged names albeit he might have caught a glimpse of mine as I showed him the photos of the front side of my moo contact cards. All I knew was he was Irish and a carpenter living in New York. To me he would be known as Irish Jesus.