always tugs at my homesick heart strings at this time of year. I love listening to it in the car on full blast, but can’t manage to get past the first few lines before I have to start fighting back the tears! (One good thing about living in the desert, it is never considered silly to wear sunglasses at any time of the year, so at least I have my shades to hide my tears in the car!). I am not quite sure why, but by the time Kirsty MacColl sings ‘And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay’, I am blubbering like a child who just found out that Santa doesn’t exist!
Back home this song was a Christmas favourite each year. A timeless piece of festive ‘Gangnam Style’, it even got the most reluctant dancers jigging about on the dancefloor! It was played in pubs, in clubs, and even shops. The lyrics are infused with energy, brutal honesty, hope and disappointment, but when celebrating Christmas back home with my friends, I only noticed the way this song, like Christmas, brought everyone together. We danced, we laughed, we celebrated; we celebrated friendships, family, love. Any regrets, any sadness or misgivings about the year gone by were forgotten.
Like I said, I love this song but now, the minute I hear the unmistakable sound of the accordion, a tin whistle, and a violin coming together to play the hallmark sound of traditional Irish music, I am overcome with nostalgia. The lyrics come alive, and my mind is a maelstrom of emotion.
I am transported back to last minute Christmas Eve shopping on a bustling, busker-lined Grafton Street in Dublin. I reminisce about meeting good friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for months on end, in The Duke on Duke Street, sipping G&Ts in the cosy warmth of a real Irish pub (or sometimes even shivering outside under gas heaters!). Then we would all head off in our separate directions to meet up with family to have dinner, go to midnight mass and try to finish the gift wrapping by dawn!
Then my mind wanders to the New York theme of the song. I think of all of those emigrants/expats from Ireland who have ever left home, whether by choice or not. I think about how many will be making their way home to the Emerald Isle for Christmas, and spare a thought for those would love nothing more to go home but who can’t.
At Christmas I miss my family, my friends, I miss Ireland, even moreso than usual.
Wise DH once commented that on St. Patrick’s Day ‘everyone wants to be Irish’. Similarly, when the Irish hear Fairytale of New York, they want to be home for Christmas! So, no matter how many tears I cry listening to Fairytale of New York, I will continue to listen to it everyday during the festive season, and remember to forego mascara for the duration!