Dublin’s been on the cards for some time. After visiting years ago when I was still in nappy’s (well I was 13ish), I’d taken away fond memories of waiting in the rain for the famous brewery tour, freezing my nad’s off, whilst eating hot chips out of a wedge of newspaper.
What better time to refresh, nearly a decade later, than by visiting Dublin on St Patrick’s Day. Now, I’m not Irish, never have been. Nor do I pretend to have an Irish half brother to look cool. Believe me, some people try this. My plane passenger made a strong point of reassuring me she was in fact, an eighth Irish. An eighth! I bit my tongue. Do people honestly care? I don’t see a problem being English, turning up an hour late, drunk, to gatecrash an Irish party with the sole intention of having a laugh and drinking Guinness. St Paddy himself was Welsh anyway.
One thing that was apparent when looking for directions and advice, avoid the people decked out in green scarves, shirts and lepricorn outfits. These are the South African and Australian tourists, the lot of them. I was getting the feeling St Paddy’s was far more commercialised than I’d ever imagined. The famous ‘Temple Bar’ area seemed quite the money pit, with themed shops, restaurants and predictable Guinness exploitation. It’s clear whether they like it or not, ‘Irish’ is a brand in itself.
So in typical fashion, we made the Temple Bar Pub our first stop for the all important first pint of Guinness. I’m going to try and refrain from using the G word again, I can see its appearing in every paragraph…but what a pint that was. It doesn’t compare to the stuff back home (which I can only describe as like eating a roast dinner). If you don’t like Guinness in Ireland, don’t bother trying it again. This stuff was far too easy to drink; but I’m on holiday, so it’s ok.
The atmosphere, as expected, was upbeat. Actually, it was pretty f’ing mental. With hoards of bodies about town, and a rather strong police presence to keep things in order, (90 arrests this year) we continued to sample a number of typically smooth ale’s before meeting with our Irish friends for the two hour coach trip back to their home town.
I say town in the loosest sense, more a road with a few houses and a pub attached to it. It became obvious ‘we young English boys’ where the talk of the town. We had celebrity status for a good 15minutes. Undeterred by the staring, remarks on the oh so posh English accent, and the fact we use hair gel to make our hair stick up; we were warmly welcomed and really felt part of the family as the night progressed. We even got invited (or maybe told) to stand with the locals for the Irish national anthem.
It wasn’t long before the fiddle and squeeze box where heard in the next room, jackpot; Traditional Irish ‘diddly diddly music’ on St Paddy’s day. Perching on a well worn leather topped bar stool, in a dark rustic pub, was pretty dam sweet. The Irish music, friendly chatter and the roaring party atmosphere put me in a good mental state. There was something very warming and safe about it all, although that could’ve been the drink.
Waking early to the distinct lack of stale cigarette smoke made the morning much more bearable. The Irish have banned smoking in Pubs, something the English will hopefully be enjoying in a few years. Necking a huge breakfast, we set out on the tourist run of Dublin. Taking in everything we missed the previous night, we had quite a busy day, packing in the open top bus tour whilst dealing with stomach aches; pick pocketed wallets and the old chestnut of running out of time.