I have been fortunate enough to travel several to the beautiful country of Ireland and, God willing, plan to go many times more. I have gone both out of religious interest and for family vacation. One of the truly unique and glorious features of Ireland is it pubs. While rightly famed for their beer (although this distinction is sadly slipping away with the proliferation of mass produced American beer and the adjustment of serving temperature from the warmer traditional temps to the near freezing American norms- but more on that in a future post) they are even better known for their atmosphere and their gregarious company. As mentioned in my previous post on hospitality, what I loved about them is that you can just walk in sit down and, with the most minimal effort, strike up a conversation which leads quickly to the purchasing of rounds for one another and can easily turn into an evening long event.
While in ancient monastic town of Glenadlough (in the Wicklow Mountains about an hour from Dublin) I made nightly trips down to the single pub. One The famous round tower of Glendalouoghparticular evening I went down with our amazing guide, Kevin, and we joined a table full of his buddies who worked for the Mountain Rescue Squad. As the name implies their job is to find and rescue stranded hikers and climbers. Several pints of Guinness into the conversation I expressed my admiration for their glasses (which boast the Guinness logo on both sides of the glass as opposed to the one sided glasses found here). One of our party said matter of factly,
“Then just take it when you go.” I protested that I did not feel comfortable doing that. Someone else insisted, “Don’t worry, people do it all the time.” I explained that I was a priest and didn’t want to steal. Our give and take of encouragement and objection continued for several minutes. Finally, one of my new friends ended the debate when they grabbed my momentarily empty glass and stuffed it into my windbreaker. Against the odds I got it home in one piece and that glass sits in a place of honor upon my shelf to this day.
Now you can certainly question the morality of my action- there is no way to rationalize around the fact that it was stealing. Yet there was also the matter of hospitality to consider and the question of offending my hosts. I will pick this subject up next week so stay tuned.