October was a busy and fulfilling month for yours truly. In those thirty-one days I managed to: perform a wedding ceremony, attend the Roots’n’Blues music festival, visit my grandmother in her assisted-living facility and my father in the hospital, mow my mother-in-law’s yard, go to a Mizzou football game with my family, help celebrate Truman’s “Gotcha Day” a few days early, announce three high school football games and a middle school game, attend four bonfires, write five newspaper columns, take my kids trick-or-treating, demonstrate my homemade musical instruments to eleven classes of students in two schools, and substitute teach sixteen times—all while housetraining a new puppy, raising three children, and attempting to be a decent husband. I am grateful that I live such a full, exhausting, and charmed life. And I am grateful for naps.
I’ve said it before; I am the luckiest guy I know. Perhaps it’s the luck of the Irish. As a fifth-generation Irish-American, I have always been curious about my heritage and anxious to learn more about the culture of my ancestors. Well, thanks to Bethany’s obsession with Groupon, I am pleased to announce that by the time you read these words, I will be busy touring the Irish countryside with my beautiful bride in a belated celebration of our twenty years of wedded bliss.
A vacation in Ireland has been an item on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. For the next week, Bethany and I will be driving a rented car from town to town in the rural south of the Emerald Isle, weaving our way through flocks of sheep, popping into various pubs, and getting to know the locals. I can’t wait.
Avoiding the big city, (Dublin), our path will wind through smaller towns that dot the verdant countryside such as Killarney, Limerick, and Blarney. Though a week doesn’t give us much time to absorb the history of my homeland, we’re going to give it our best shot.
When I told my 93 year-old grandmother about our trip, her only piece of advice was to prepare myself for being told by the natives that I mispronounce my name. I laughed and said that I had already been preparing for that eventuality. According to my research, the surname “Naughton” has many variations and pronunciations. From what I have learned, every MacNaughton, McNaughton, O’Naughton, Connaughton, MacNaught, Connaught, Naughten, and Naughton is derived from the same clan that originated not in Ireland, but in Scotland, and for some of us, the “gh” in our name is silent while others pronounce the “gh” like a “ck” as if the name was “Knockten.”
So apparently I am either Irish or Scottish or Scots-Irish or Scotch-Irish or Irish-American or Scottish-American or Scots-Irish-American or Scotch-Irish-American, AND I have no idea how to either spell or pronounce my own name. I am certain, however, that the topic will make a great icebreaker wherever I go in Ireland and that it will foster some lively conversations at any and every pub we may find ourselves in.
You can be certain that, for your amusement, I will write about these interactions in future installments of this column. As interesting and entertaining as October was, I have a feeling that the first week of November just might top it. Tune in next week to find out!