All Things Blarney in Eire
Every year the St Patrick’s Day celebrations are getting bigger and bigger. Where we live in London, there are two Irish pubs within walking distance and every year around the middle of March we can hear the merriment for days. Last year I thought to myself that if the jollity can spill over as far as England; imagine the high spirits in Ireland. So this year, we decided to spend the St Patrick’s Day (Paddy Day) week in Dublin.
What’s the craic?
Pronounced as ‘crack’, the craic is an Irish word with many meanings like fun, enjoyment and even news or gossip. For example: ‘What’s the craic?’ can mean ‘What’s happening? Any news? How are you? Where’s the party?’, all in one. Well Ireland has great craic, especially on Paddy Day. It is also just around the corner for us – a mere 45 minute flight. On top of that, flights are dirt cheap with the Irish airline Ryan Air.
Dublin city is colourful and vibrant
With saving money on flights we decided to splurge a little on the accommodation and booked a room at Bono’s hotel, the Clarence. Ironically it is located just down the road from Grafton Street, where Bono started his musical career by busking. The short walk to the famous street took us through the historic and very jolly area Temple Bar, which seems to have a life of its own with colourful graffiti, music everywhere and interesting little shops and pubs. We spent many hours exploring the cobbled streets of this vibrant place.
It should be St Patrick’s week, not day
Maybe it is just the way it is in Dublin, but the Paddy Day celebrations seemed to go on the whole week. Besides the parade, and even more people wearing silly hats, Paddy Day was just like every other day in Dublin that week: jolly, loud, happy and filled with an endless supply of the ‘black stuff’. This is what some people call Guinness, even though many of the pubs serve green coloured Guinness around this time. Just about everybody was drinking the dry Irish stout drink, most to excess. Ladies have it in a smaller size glasses with a shot of blackcurrant cordial. My experience is that it is almost impossible to eat much after having a pint of two of the stuff, it is very filling.
On a quest for some culture
After spending a few days in the city, we decided to have a day without Guinness to experience the cultural side of Ireland. My fiancé wanted to see some of the megalithic standing stones Ireland is famous for, so we rented a car with a satellite navigation system. She used the ‘Places of Interest’ facility of the satnav to find the nearest standing stone and we set off.
At the end of every rainbow (and road) in Ireland, there is a pub
Less than an hour of scenic driving passed and the satnav announced, ‘Arriving at destination on right’. We were quite confused as it seemed to be a little country road in the middle of nowhere. When we got out of the car we noticed a building to the left, a pub called Johnny Foxes. No megalithic stone in sight. Well, we were once again in a jolly pub in Ireland and made the best of it. It turned out that this was the highest pub in Ireland and also one of the oldest. With a talking fish on the wall, sawdust on the floors and historical decor, Johnny Foxes was a cultural experience in itself. We decided to stay for a drink, which turned into a few more than one and we ended up seeing a Hooley Show, which is a very lively traditional Irish music and dancing show. Great craic indeed!