Green, Guinness, & Gaillimh
The Edinburgh girls and I woke up at the crack of dawn this past Saturday to catch an early flight to Dublin, Ireland. We made it to the city center around 10 am and found our way to our housing. We had chosen to go with AirB&B, an online B&B site that connects travelers with small B&Bs. Hans and Deirdre, our hosts, had a beautiful home with puffy quilts, hard wood floors, and a typical “Irish” kitchen. Needless to say, we were all in heaven.
We spent the morning strolling around St. Patrick’s Cathedral, eating cannolis in an indoor market (yes, cannolis in Dublin), and sipping lattes as we dodged puddles.
The weather was dark and cloudy, but didn’t detract from our morning since we are used to it at this point. It didn’t take long to find the Guinness Storehouse, our destination for the afternoon.
We wandered around the factory for several hours, smelling the barley and drinking lots and lots of the “tall blonde with a long skirt.” (Michele randomly bumped into a family friend, and we spent the afternoon with them). My favorite part of the tour was when we got to pour our own Guinness.
I felt I had a lot at stake and had to live up to the Wrinn name of being able to pour the perfect pint; especially since I grew up with a tap built into our kitchen wall and had fetched Dad his Heineken and Coors since I was old enough to read the label. Thankfully, the foam didn’t pour over too much 🙂
We spent some time on the roof of the factory, sipping the heavy stuff and taking in the views of [cloudy] Dublin. We ended the afternoon in a pub watching the Ireland v. France rugby match.
Our night began at Whelan’s, a local favorite in Dublin and where the bar scene in Ps. I Love You was filmed. Afterwards, we headed over to the Temple Bar area, which was rowdy and packed with both Irish and French. Tempers were calm, mostly because the match ended in a draw, but the streets were packed. We poked into the famous Temple Bar and then spent the rest of the night at Fitzsimmons for some great music.
Hans & Deirdre cooked us a wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning, and we hung out with them in the kitchen for a while, sipping tea and trying not to wolf down the delicious eggs that Deirdre made. (Yes, this girl eats eggs now!). Staying with this couple was one of the highlights of my trip to Dublin and that breakfast was definitely the high point of it! We met up with another Fairfield friend who flew over for spring break, wandered around Trinity College, and then it was off to Galway!
Two of my best friends, Sarah & Rachel, are studying in Galway for the semester. It felt SO great to see them and catch up! I caught an afternoon bus from Dublin and made it to Galway in time to see the sun setting over the bay as Rachel walked me through Quay street, which looks like an old fishing village.
We got a great dinner (I had a pot pie) and spent the night at The Front Door, one of the girls’ favorite pubs! Irish kids are a lot rowdier and definitely live up to their reputation. It was one of my best nights since coming to Europe!
The next morning we took a tour bus through Galway, the Burren, and County Clare with the destination being the famous Cliffs of Moher. Stops along the way included an old abbey, a “fairy circle,” and an ancient Gaelic burial ground. Our tour guide, Desmond Murray, was from Czech but could have passed for an old Irish man.
Our trips to the Cliffs of Moher, as told by Desmond:
“You all bettah be prayin’ that we make it back to Galway.”
“You guils bettah watch out…’ve got all sorts of surprises up my sleeve.”
“While walking through the Burren, dinna keep your hands in your pockets…you will trip, fall, and perish.”
“When yeh fall and break yehr arm, it’s a cold two-hour wait on the rocks for an ambulance.” [When Michele asked why we couldn’t stay on the bus if we ‘perished,’ he looked very put-out].
“No one sit next to the red-headed American guil…she might be Ruah coming back to haunt us.”
“Up here is where the oyster festival is…I wish we had the time to stop because, boys and guils, it is a great aphrodisiac.”
“If yeh aren’t married in Ireland by 25…you’re on the shelf. On the shelf for life.”
He also explained, in great detail, the mechanics of sheep mating. Desmond was very concerned about our claddagh rings and wouldn’t let us off the bus unless he checked to make sure that we were all single and ready to mingle.
We stopped for lunch at a great pub, O’Connells, and I got a beef & Guinness stew. Delicious! Dad, the wall was covered in police badges…I snagged a picture for you! Since it was only the five of us lassies (plus two very quiet American boys), Desmond stopped often when he heard us ooh-ing and ahh-ing from behind.
I had imagined that Ireland would look similiar to Scotland, but was amazed at how different the landscape was. Ireland truly is just like the pictures–green, rolling, and blue skies. After a while it felt silly taking pictures because a picture could never capture how breathtaking it was. Although it was freezing, the sun was bright in the sky. The Cliffs of Moher were fantastic and it was so special to see them with Rachel!
I wish I had more time in Ireland, but know that I will definitely be returning. On the bus to the airport, ‘O’Reilly’s Daughter’ popped up on shuffle, and I happily listened to the song of my childhood while looking out over the rolling hills, sheep, and thatched roofs. I remember dancing with Meg in front of the fireplace, begging Dad to play our favorite song just one more time, and pretending that we were little Irish girls.
I actually felt quite homesick in Ireland; my flatmate pointed out that this was because it reminded me so much of the Wrinn side of the family. The food tasted like Grandma’s (aka delicious), the men were stubborn (sorry guys), and the girls beautiful (see below :-)).
On the bus ride home, listening to Celtic music (thanks to Aunt Laura and her Celtic Women collection!) and watching the hills roll by, I couldn’t help the few tears that rolled down my face. It was such a beautiful weekend with my closest friends, something that I’ll cherish forever. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. I’ve dreamt of visiting Ireland since I was a little girl, and on that bus ride to the Shannon Airport, I realized (not a little too late) that it had actually happened.
I’m grateful for a wonderful weekend in the land of green, Guinness, and Galway. The next few weeks are jam-packed with more adventures and jet-setting (plus squeezing in an essay, presentation, and three books. Oops).