Happy St. Patrick's Day! In honor of the occasion, I have a humorous story from Ireland.
Extracted from Fish on Friday
by Father Leonard Feeney, M.I.C.M.
...on a certain lovely morning in Galway, when I went for a walk, and asked an Irish peasant to tell me how far it was to — let us call the place, for I forget it — Corofin.
“Good morning! How far is it to Corofin?”
He was sitting on a wall. He raised his hat and gave me a bow.
“About a half mile down the road, Father. And God speed you!”
I walked a half mile. I walked another half mile, examining sign-posts as I went. And another half mile. And another. And not until I had duplicated this distance twelve times did I arrive at Corofin, for it was six full miles away.
When I returned in the late afternoon, I met the same Irishman sitting on the wall. I went up to him indignantly.
“What did you mean by telling me Corofin was only a half mile away?” I shouted. “It was six miles away! You knew that when I spoke to you! Why didn’t you tell me the truth?”
“Well, you poor man,” he answered quietly and with great seriousness, “I didn’t want to knock the heart out of you, and you looking so tired in the early morning. I gave you a half mile to Corofin. That got you started. Somebody else gave you another half mile. That drove you on a bit further. In Ireland we do be always wanting to soften the journey of a stranger by giving him little dribbles of encouragement. Sure, there’d be nobody going any place here on a hot day, if people knew how far they had to go to get there.”
“Now listen,” I said, refusing to smile, “I don’t think that’s really funny It may be Irish, but it isn’t honest. I just came from England. In England one doesn’t get fooled that way. An Englishman takes great care in giving any information that is asked of him, and he takes great pride in giving it truthfully.”
“Do you know the trouble with the English, Father?” he replied vehemently, as he pounded the wall with his fist. “Do you know the trouble with the English? They wouldn’t think enough of you to tell you a lie!”