The Chemist's Song

Shannon Sotomayor
January 16, 2016

On the way to Oscar Wilde's childhood house we go. It is Wednesday evening, and the sun has already set. On the way, my class chats with our professor, Kristian, about James Joyce, Dubliners, and the like. A man next to us taps his shoulder. 

"I happen to work at a shop just around the corner. It's the shop in Ulysses where the characters buy their lemon soap."

Intrigued, and with spare time, we follow this man who slightly resembles a Gaelic version of Doc from Back to the Future. He's dressed like a chemist (what we Americans would refer to as a doctor), but works as a volunteer to preserve the history and literary value of this shop.

Not only does he provide us with wonderful stories and crazy details of James Joyce’s life, but he also provides us with knowledge of our own.

“And you, miss, where do your people come from?”

“Me? Well, we’re Irish, French, Spanish, and Puerto Rican.”

“Ah, what a combination. And do you know where in Ireland your family’s from?”

“I’m not sure, it’s on my mother’s side.”

“And what about in Spain?”

“Southern Spain, I think in Granada.”

Although I don’t know enough details about my family’s history, other students in my class do. He was able to pinpoint just from the color of her hair where in Ireland Kate’s family was from. Students who were Italian, he spoke fluently to. He spoke Gaelic, Spanish, French, Russian, and more, and demonstrated these connections and traditions to all of us. All because we bumped into him on the street.

Only in Dublin could we find something, and someone, this special. 

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