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Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Irish Farewell

By day, it's quaint and cozy; evenings are quite another story. Our night out in Galway left me so dazed that I forgot how to combine words into coherent sentences. Having recovered at last, I offer a brief overview of the magical mystery tour we experienced that memorable evening.

If you can picture a frat party crossed with a gay pride parade (take your time ...), you are looking at Galway nightlife. Bar-lined streets packed with women donned in hot pink leopard print dresses and men sprouting angel wings; street percussionists heightening the euphoria of drunken, costumed (sometimes unintentionally) Irish youth; Samuel Beckett watching over you creepily as you ingest your dinner. These are just a few of the reasons the evening now plays a bit like a dream sequence. Had I no pictures to document the phenomenon, I'm not sure I would believe it had actually taken place.

Back to Normalcy

Following our trippy evening, we headed back to Dublin for the final two days of our Irish journey and hit all the sites that we could. Here are the highlights:

- A snooty wine drinker, I have never been able to make myself like beer, try as I might. In Dublin, however, I was offered a "lady pint" of Guinness at an old, decidedly untrendy pub and was determined to drink it all. Two Irish senior citizens decided I could use a lesson and thus trained me in the art of Guinness drinking. Rule #1: DO NOT SIP. This encouraged me, and I finished my half pint with relative ease. It does taste smoother in Ireland. I was enthusiastic enough to down another half pint at pub #2. By the time we arrived at the trendy (although empty and suspiciously odd smelling) establishment, we were ready for our cocktails. I had three, and beer before liquor ... well you see where this is going.

- Trinity College boasts the library of my dreams. Old books rock.

- Taking pictures of myself with literary figure statues is my favorite corny tourist thing to do in Ireland.

You might then imagine how disappointed I was to find Oscar Wilde perched atop an impossibly high rock or how old I felt when a bunch of 10-year-olds climbed it with no difficulty whatsoever.

- William Butler Yeats bothered to answer a trite questionnaire about where his artistic inspiration comes from. This is amusing to lit geeks.

- The historic Temple Bar district is highly touristy, but the old John Gogarty pub and restaurant is worth visiting anyhow for some traditional Irish tunes.

- The Guinness brewery, with its accompanying Gravity Bar and complimentary pint, is well worth the visit. The tour is very thorough, and the bar on the top floor offers an expansive view of Dublin. Walking about the more seedy industrial neighborhood is interesting in itself. I particularly loved the Catholic church's placement directly next to the enormous beer tanks, factory smoke billowing above the steeple. How Irish.

Thank you, Republic of Ireland

A week is never long enough in any country, but it was long enough to begin feeling at home in Southern Ireland. For a capital city, Dublin feels neither fast-paced nor sleepy; people are friendly; and places are relatively easy to get to (notwithstanding the bus system's insistent lack of punctuality). As for Northern Ireland, time constraints and the cost of the pound made it impossible for me to visit on this trip, but it will not escape my incessant traveler disorder for long.


Jennifer said...

Nice pics and sum up. I still love that pic of you downing a Guinness.

Where did you find that picture of the Long Library at Trinity?

Melissa said...

I just took it from google images. I wish I had been able to use my camera there, but, as I respect old books, I forgive them for their no pictures rule.