Guinness and Rainbows
It was late one afternoon when I sat down beside an older gentleman at my local Irish pub. He looked to be in his late 70s, small frame, flushed cheeks and was sporting a grin from ear to ear. I thought him pleasantly inebriated and proceeded to order a drink for myself. I couldn’t help noticing out of the corner of my eye that the smile on this gentleman did not disappear. In fact if anything, the joy spread further across to his eyes, his wrinkled forehead and I suspect even down to his toes. Every 30 seconds or so he would lift his nearly finished pint of Guinness up in the air as if to drink, then stop and giggle.Yes giggle. This grown man sitting alone at the pub was giggling like a school girl. After a few minutes of this, I leaned over and asked the dear old man what on earth he was giggling over. He gave me a serious hard look and said matter-of-factly, “the rainbows in my pint of course”.
I laughed out loud. Rainbows? “How many of those have you had?” I asked.
“This is my first and only one!” he declared indignantly. He leaned in and whispered to me, “I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you tilt an almost empty glass of Guinness, you’ll see rainbows through yer glass.”
Well, that was something different. 10 years of frequenting the same pub and I’d never had a conversation about rainbows. I wondered what medication the nice gentleman was taking and privately thought I wouldn’t mind borrowing his prescription. I didn’t give that conversation much thought until a year later when I found myself out on the remote Aran Islands.
Inishmor, the largest of the Aran Islands, is a blustery little island filled with more stonewalls, ruins and myths than people. From across the long dark bar, I spotted three men and one woman tilting their glasses high and whispering delightedly to one another. The word rainbow drifted softly down to my end of the bar. I jumped down from my bar stool and headed over to the beaming foursome. I wasn’t sure exactly what to say so I just blurted out, “Are ye looking for rainbows?” All four stopped whispering and looked me up and down.
“Of course” answered one of the men.
“Don’t you know the secret of Guinness?” asked another one the cheerful bunch.
Then the woman with sparkling green eyes and a sing-song lilt, smiled warmly at me as she passed this bit of unknown Irish mythology onto me:
“Those that see the rainbows through their glass are blessed with happiness and joy. Those that see only black stout find happiness hard to obtain and easily lose their way through the darkness of life. We always search for rainbows so we can be filled with great love and joy and pass this onto our families and friends.”
So raise your glasses high this St. Patrick’s Day and search for rainbows in your glass of Guinness!
– Andrew O’Connor, Local Irish Observer & Storyteller
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