I turned around to see two Irishmen walking briskly toward a third, a fellow most obviously named Seamus (not Shamus). I laughed, thinking how occasionally people do actually call me Shamus, exclusively on poker trips. I could be forgiven for thinking perhaps the person was, in fact, calling to me.
“Shamus” of course is a slang term for a private detective, also used to refer to policemen. Starts turning up around the 1920s or so and at least one etymological explanation connects it to the preponderance of Irish-American cops (particulary in the northeastern U.S.). The word pops up in hard-boiled novels, with both Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler using it. That spelling is in truth a misspelling, a phonetic representation of the traditional and popular Irish name, Seamus.
Flying home yesterday, I thought again of that funny moment and the little double-take that followed. Then I thought a little more about Ireland and how connected I seemed to feel with the place and the people while there.
I mentioned during some of the earlier trip posts some of the reasons for my affinity with Ireland, reasons which could also explain the not entirely expected experience of feeling “at home” while there (or something). All of that helped contribute to the feeling that it would never seem all that strange for someone to call out to me by name to greet me.
On the flight out of Dublin I happened to get into a conversation with the fellow seated next to me. Soon enough we figured out we were both heading to Charlotte, and in fact he lived in the neighboring town from me here on the farm. We were about 3,700 miles from our respective destinations, which were in fact only about half-dozen miles apart.
It was nice to chat and already to be thinking about home -- my real one -- and to enjoy talking with someone about things that were familiar. But my time in Ireland was been very pleasant, too, even comforting at times in a similar way.
Photo: “A large tricolour flying from CuChulainn House in the New Lodge, Belfast,” Ardfern (adapted). CC BY-SA 3.0.