// you're reading... Europe For St. Patrick’s Day: “Herself” By Diane Duane ⋅ March 17, 2012 ⋅ Post a comment Filed Under fantasy, Herself, Ireland, Irish, Patrick's Day, Saint Patrick, St, the Sidhe
In the heart of Dublin, something is killing the People of the Hills — and it’s going to take Ireland’s only superhero to stop it…
In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day: a taste of something Irish.
The Irish Thing can hardly avoid being part of the “ground of being” of someone who’s lived in Ireland for more than quarter-century. That familiarity, though, with the way things really are here (insofar as anyone, “blow-in” or native, can ever tell what’s really going on in this island…) can make the inhabitant a little impatient with the perceptions of outsiders: particularly those who think Ireland is some kind of theme park that should be preserved to match its overflow into the last couple of centuries’ popular culture. I have actually stood in Dublin Airport and heard fellow Americans complaining that Ireland has broadband: as if it’s somehow polluting the cultural purity of the place. (I saw another American look around absolutely without irony or humor intended and say, disbelieving, “I thought it was supposed to be thatched.” The airport. Was supposed. To be thatched.)
…Yeah. So you will understand that when I was invited to participate in an anthology called Emerald Magic: Great Tales of Irish Fantasy, before I decided what story I wanted to write, I asked casually if I could see a list of the other contributors. When I saw the list, it was as I thought: only one of them (our former neighbor Morgan Llewellyn) had ever lived here. One of them (the excellent Tanith Lee) might have at least been here. And I knew in my bones what way everyone else would be going with their stories: the Celtic twilight, thatch everywhere, the soft green countryside, the old school Ireland and the old-school myths of a century or so back. I immediately thought, Somebody’s got to actually get into Dublin, where a third of the damn population lives! Somebody’s got to at least spend a little time in the here and now. …I’m going urban on this one.
And so I did. “Herself” was briefly offered here as a standalone download for St. Patrick’s Day of 2011, and today we’re offering it on this page for you to read. The text will vanish when St. Patrick’s Day does. Tomorrow, though, if you’d still like to read the story, you can do so by acquiring the anthology in which it appears, “Uptown Local” and Other Interventions.
I met the leprechaun for the first and last time in the conveyor-sushi bar behind Brown Thomas. It was the “holy hour”, between three and four, when the chefs go upstairs for their own lunch, and everything goes quiet, and the brushed stainless-steel conveyor gets barer and barer.
The leprechaun had been smart and had ordered his yasai-kakiage just before three. He sat there now eating it with a morose expression, drinking sake and looking out the Clarendon Street picture windows at the pale daylight that slid down between the high buildings on either side.
While I’d seen any number of leprechauns in the street since I moved here—our family always had the Sight—I’d never found myself so close to one. I would have loved to talk to him, but just because you can see the Old People is no automatic guarantee of intimacy: they’re jealous of their privacy, and can be more than just rude if they felt you were intruding. I weighed a number of possible opening lines, discarded them all, and finally said, “Can I borrow your soy sauce? I’ve run out.”
He handed me the little square pitcher in front of his place-setting and picked up another piece of yasai-kakiage. I poured shoyu into the little saucer they give you, mixed some green wasabi horseradish with it, and dunked in a piece of tuna sashimi.
“You’re not supposed to do that,” he said.
“Mix them like that.” He gestured with his chin at the wasabi. “You’re supposed to just take it separately.”
I nodded. “I’m a philistine,” I said.
“So are we all these days,” the leprechaun said, and looked even more morose. He signaled the obi-clad waitress, as she passed, for another sake. “Precious little culture left in this town any more. Nothing but money, and people scrabbling for it.”