Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I get Jerpoint!
Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland. On a scouting mission for good shots and interesting places to visit along the back-roads of Ireland, for a new travel guide book. Having photographed the only obvious tourist attraction, Jerpoint Abbey, further down the road, I circumnavigated the tiny and heavily trafficked town three times before squeezing the RAV into the only available parking spot, to look for suitable accommodations (so that I can note it for the book). I go into the aptly, but not over-imaginatively, named pub "The Jerpoint Hotel" to ask if they have rooms available.
Three men are sitting at the bar and the place is abandoned other than for them and the female bar person. "No, we don't do accommodation", she politely informs me, but there is a good B&B around the corner."
"Thank you, that's very helpful", I offer, and make to leave".
"And, don't worry", the man in the middle of the line of three says to my back. "they serve the English".
"excuse me?", Says I, "what does that mean?"
"Oh, it's only a joke, says he".
I leave. I count to ten. I walk around the town again. I fume some more. I go back into the Jerpoint hotel. The man in the middle, is holding his hand out to shake mine, and saying "I was only joking, just now".
"I checked at the B&B" I tell him, without shaking his hand", and they confirmed that they do, indeed, serve the English. But, I am told they draw the line at narrow-minded, racist locals."
I start to make my exit, to wide-mouthed silence. And then I turn and smile, before saying "I was only joking, just now, of course".
In 10 years of living very happily in rural Ireland, I have never, before, been subjected to racial abuse. I know it exists, but I have no idea what valuable purpose it serves. I know about jokes, I know about the importance of a good sense of humour. I also know about veiled insults disgracefully disguised as humour. I also know that it's about time some people came into the real (or at least modern) world and grew up.
I didn't look for other lodgings in Thomastown, and I certainly won't be including it in the travel book. I am happy to recommend small Irish towns to everyone - but I will recommend small-minded people to no one.