OK. So it’s not really a statue. It’s a scarecrow. But it serves the same purpose.
Key Center. Not really a town. More a collection of retail and service businesses with a library and charity shop thrown in for good measure. But there is absolutely a sense of community here. And every year at this time scarecrows pop up all over the place, mostly reflective of the sponsoring business or service. This year there is one notable exception. Ricky the Flagger.
For the weeks and months that a new bridge was being built on our local state highway, Ricky the flagger was a bright light greeting every single person in every passing vehicle. A wave, a broad smile, and sometimes a tip of his helmet. Spreading infectious joy. People loved him. He became so popular that the local community put up a FaceBook page in his honor.
And then he was gone. Apparently being that friendly isn’t in the job description and his popularity caused other road workers to be disgruntled. Read jealous. Ricky was fired. Oh, the community was outraged and protested the action, demanding that he be brought back. He wasn’t. There is even talk about the completed bridge being named Ricky’s Bridge. It won’t be, at least not officially. But it will always be Ricky’s Bridge to locals.
I suspect this may not be the only year that Ricky’s scarecrow image is part of Key Center’s Halloween landscape. As it should be. In these times we need statues that honor those who are courteous and civil. Those who bring out the best in all of us.
A friend sent me this a few weeks ago. I created this graphic and then let it sit. In the context of what’s unfolding in the States it seemed not the right message. But now, as I count down the last few days before I fly back to the States, it is exactly the right message.
For this is what I’ve been experiencing here in Ireland. Another world and reality. Salve for the soul. Even behind the masks there is tribe. There is fire. So while this piece is written from a US cultural context, it translates into the Irish culture perfectly. Enjoy!
I met with our solicitor here in Ireland as we are buying out Jack’s half share in the cottage and signing the papers is a major reason for my being here. I was guided to the conference room to sit at one end of a long table. As the solicitor came in, settling at the other end of the table and organizing his papers, he gave me the standard spiel about their distancing and cleaning procedures including the fact that the pen they would give me to sign the papers would go home with me. However no masks were required at this point.
Then he stopped, leaned toward me across the table, and said, “I weary of the long sorrow.”
“Now, do you like poetry?” he asked. And with my nod he was off. He shared the source and history of what he had quoted and then launched into two other poems about the nearby coast line. “Do you know the Flaggy Shore?” he asked. I do. “I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by. Now there’s that one and another which you must yourself take down to the Flaggy Shore and recite while looking across Galway Bay.” I wrote down the information about the poems and poets and then we turned back to the business at hand.
I smiled to myself. Only in Ireland. Only in Ireland.