Saturday, April 23, 2011
As you may have surmised from my last post, I didn’t sleep a whole lot in London. Thus, when I arrived in Dublin, I was pretty exhausted and looking forward to a good nap or two. I will leave Dublin tomorrow a much more rested man. I took naps pretty much every day, sometimes out on the quad while attempting to read A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (I’m sure my mom is scoffing at me, but it’s actually not too bad, I’m a third of the way into it so far), sometimes in the morning, sometimes on a train. Ireland really is a good country to sleep in.
In Dublin, I’m staying with my friend Stephen (we’ll call him Steve from now on, as that’s what he’s called in Ireland). He’s getting a masters at Trinity College which makes him kind of a big deal. He’s also a good connection to have, because besides his being a “baller” (a term they don’t know here), he has some legit digs at Trinity, in the heart of Dublin. Trinity is where the Queen is coming next month and Obama the month after. In addition, Steve also has some okay friends (even in their names are spelled really weirdly, Aoife and Niamh--just try to pronounce those and then look them up on google), and aside from writing his thesis which he hasn’t started yet, he doesn’t have that much work to do and can instead spend all of his time showing me around the city. As if that weren’t enough, he gave me an old phone and, perhaps more crucially, a much needed, much forgotten towel.
The days and nights have kind of run together here in Dublin, but I’ll try my best to give a semblance of a chronological account of what I’ve done here. After a long nap, the first night Steve and I ate a very Irish meal (think sausage, potatoes, gravy, and cabbage) and then went to Temple Bar, a really touristy bar in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. The place was packed with tourists and a pretty good Irish band was playing drinking songs and ballads. We met a few people there, including a naval officer who bought us drinks (American servicemen and women are the best people ever to run into abroad).
The next day we went to the Guinness storehouse, where Arthur Guinness took out a 9000 year lease on the property, 250 years ago. It’s a very cool spot, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone if you make it to Dublin. We learned that the Irish government recommends “21 drinks a week with a few days off.” I’m pretty sure in America, it’s more like ten…Steve and I also took in the Kilhearney Gaol where most of the rebellions in Irish history were quelled, and the Book of Kells which is housed here at Trinity and has been for the last 400 years.
Trinity is a pretty great place. Aside from the Book of Kells, the really old, protestant university (yeah most of the nice things in Ireland are actually protestant--a lasting effect of so many years of English rules) is beautifully organized around the quads that you’re not supposed to walk on, but everyone apparently does anyways. At the back of the university, is the university pub, called “the pav” that has a plaque of all the captains of the soccer team for the last couple hundred years. The pav is situated around a massive cricket pitch and a rugby field. At the front of the university, there is a giant oak front door that you have to knock on after hours to be let in after midnight.
A side note on rugby, since I mentioned it’s one of the two fields that they have at the Trinity campus. It is so well loved that when we congratulated one guy who had just passed his final boards to get his medical degree, he said “expletive that, did you hear that we beat UCD (University College Dublin) by nine points today? I hate those expletives.” Granted, he may have been a bit “pissed” (drunk), but you get the idea. On my last day in Dublin, I went to visit Lansdowne Road, one of the oldest rugby fields in the world. It was the home to the Irish rugby and soccer teams but was demolished a couple of years ago to make way for a 400 million Euro--Aviva stadium. I decided to take a tour of the stadium, which was pretty cool, and I made my first big purchase of the trip, an Irish rugby jersey.
My second to last day, I decided to let Steve get some work done, and I jetted off to the coast. Specifically I went to Don Lougharie, a port town, just outside of Dublin. The weather was perfect and has been for my entire trip, typical. The weather was so perfect in fact that people were swimming in the North Sea. Not just jumping in but swimming for awhile. Don Lougharie is a pretty small town, but it has a small castle like tower at the end of it where Joyce spent a weekend with some friends and based the opening scene of Ulysses. Now it’s a museum.
Alright enough of the boring stuff--the nightlife in Dublin is a blast. The Irish really know how to throw down (note the 21 drinks a week). We frequented a bar called Dicey’s because of the deals, which pretty much reminds me of a really nice and several acre Bourbon Street (mostly because of the clientele). We also had a night at temple Bar, and a night with the continentals for a birthday party which was pretty epic. We even took our night off for the Lord (everything closes at midnight on Holy Thursday and stays closed through Good Friday, I suppose so that you can “let him in”).
Like every place I go, I am going to attempt to over generalize about an entire culture and country based on an infinitesimally small sample size (my science teachers are disowning me right now). The Irish are many things, but here are a few that I’ve noted and been told. In an attempt to regain their Irishness, the Irish are trying to bring back Gaelic (this has been going on for 100 years now). They are also not as religious as I thought they would be, although everything shut down for Good Friday. Dublin is incredibly expensive. Other than that, I loved Ireland and the Irish. They look like Americans for the most part, but their self-deprecating humor and laid back attitude are fantastic. Also the weather was pretty epic (n.b. the fact that it rained only once on my road trip through the US, and has rained for no more than an hour so far on this trip). My last humorous observation is that there are so many phrases here that we don’t have in the US. I can’t understand most of the slang, and that combined with the accent, makes it remarkably difficult to understand the language. For example, Steve and I were walking back to trinity one night and we came across a scene in which a bunch of teenagers were crowded around an ambulance and some cop cars. We asked somebody what was going on, she pointed to some blood on her shirt and said that there had been “murders.” Steve and I were shocked to find out that “murders” doesn’t in fact mean murders but rather just beating someone up. I’m a little relieved that’s the case though. More to come.