Dublin Travel Blog

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On the train from Cork to Dublin

Dublin ��" October 19th, 2007.

There are no Irish left in Ireland, or so they say.  It has been ten days since we landed on these hallowed shores and thus far I’ve met only three Irish men and countless Polish people.  Indeed, the people working the front desk at The Clarence Hotel in Dublin ��" owned by Bono & Edge no less ��" is “manned” by a guy just in from Poland.  Even the porter was just four weeks “off the boat”.  He had a huge zit on his face and a big smile, so I could not begrudge the guy.  I feel like I often do in the States ��" frustrated by those who don’t speak English as freely as I do, who are not accustomed to Westernized notions of hospitality or nationality ��" and frustration reigns as a result of those newly arrived not realizing the two are one in the same.

St. Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland
 Irish are known for their hospitality ��" hence, when I arrive in Ireland I expect I to be greeted by those born and raised in this wonderful place.  Alas, we have had few encounters with the “real Irish”.  The towns we visited are accustomed to Americans,i.e. touristy places like Portlaoise, Dublin, Doolin, Glengarriff, so the interactions with those we call genuine have been few and far between.  It’s funny but I am saddened by what appears to be a real modernization of this great country ��" and immigration has certainly changed the face of what Ireland is & what it will become.  Funny how those who emigrated and returned to enjoy the “Celtic Tiger” economy are now subject to those who are just off the boat … fresh faced, scared, penniless and working their arses off for a few quid.  The Irish couldn’t be bothered with cleaning rooms in a Dublin hotel now … except for Ann Marie, of course.
Memorial to Irish Famine, Quays, Dublin City, Ireland
  But she’s a whole other story.

So here I am at the Octagon Bar ��" the site of so many drunken nights in Ireland ��" I am blessed really and that fact is not lost on me.   The fact that I have been able to come here so many times and to share this with my parents & cousin Martha!  But I am alone now & surrounded by what appears to be a swell of American tourists searching for Bono or some glimpse of U2.  There is a lady with her husband at the bar ��" they both look about my age (a/k/a “Bono Boomers”)  ��" and she has a Guinness bag, surely straight from the brewery down the street chock full o’ Guinness items such as oven mittens, salt & pepper shakers and the like.  I certainly cannot begrudge the woman since my kitchen is adorned with many Guinness-labeled items, including the god-awful Toucan refrigerator magnet, but nevertheless I am utterly convinced this woman is on the prowl for a U2 sighting.

Ship in the Docklands, Dublin, Ireland
  Who am I to look down my nose upon such people as I was the same only some seven short years ago?  But that will lead me down a long tale that you all have heard before ��" my “favorite story” ��" which I shant tell until such time we meet again.  Am I turning into Yeats, or is it just me?  There is something in the Guinness here that makes me just want to write, write, write. 

Horrors!  Another group of Americans arriving at this very moment.  Oh how awful !  And they are ordering a British ale, of all things.  Jesus Mary & Joseph ��"  help us and save us.  Tourists adorned with cameras, guide books, maps and ½ pints of Guinness.

From left to right - Monica, Catherine, Mary, Mom, Martha & Kate in Glengarriff, Co. Cork, Ireland
  Jaysus.  I can’t wait to get back to America where we drink Bud Light and call it beer.   Ok, I drink crap Australian Chardonnay and call it, well, Australian Chardonnay.  (Right, Martha?)  Oh no!  Camera flashes are going off so that means only one thing ��" either Bono has arrived, or more American tourists.

Anyway, it’s my third stay at the Clarence and I can’t really complain.  My room is absolutely gorgeous ��" decorated in rich deep royal purple and a big, huge white king size bed complete with lovely white down comforter and big fluffy white pillows.  I am on the second floor near the gym which I can only guess is God’s way of suggesting (given the proximity) that I get my fat Guinness-laden ass there at some point in the next 24 hours.

Dad enjoying a pint at the Snug, Bantry Bay, Co. Cork Ireland
  Ah well.  Perhaps, or perhaps not.  I may move to the front room where I met the boys from U2 to get away from the swell of tourists.  Being one myself, I can barely stand being around them.  (Kind of how I feel about lawyers.) 

Anyway ��" it has been a lovely time here in ole Ireland.  We took a train from Cork to Dublin today that was surprisingly, well, relaxing and enjoyable.  You see, to save my sanity, my good cousin Martha permitted me to drive the majority of the time in Ireland, so I have essentially been behind the wheel for the good part of 10 days.  Mind you, I am not complaining.

My futile attempt at Giles Norman type photography. Kinsale Harbor, Co. Cork, Ireland
  It occupied my mind and took me long ways from the ever-present whistling of my father (and occasional rumblings of ‘heh heh heh you don’t know where you are going’ in a high, whiny kind of voice) which nearly drove me off the Cliffs of Moher.  But, still, I love my parents and am eternally grateful they were able to get back to the Motherland, though to be perfectly honest, the generational gap is just too large to bridge at this point…though I love them just the same.  Anyway, speaking of generations…

(Cue the awesome segue comment..)

Two days ago (on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007) we were sitting in the Blue Pool Bar in Glengarriff, Co. Cork, Ireland with our 3rd cousin, Mary McCarthy.  Well, as we were enjoying some lovely pictures and pints (ok, I was enjoying some pints), Mary elbowed Mom saying “Oh, your cousins have just walked in” or something rather dramatic like that … well, Mom’s face just lit up like a Christmas tree.

Hazel Vickery, Mom & Martha at the Snug, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland
  Mary walked over to the ladies ��" Catherine and Monica (a/k/a Mary) ��" and said that her “relatives” from America were there in the bar.  So Catherine and Monica ��" both elderly and never married (“unclaimed treasures” ��" believe me, Martha and I put a stop to that phrase IMMEDIATELY) ��" joined us for their lunch.  What a treat!  Mom could not have been happier as they went through the connection ��" don’t ask me what the connection is ��" but I do believe they are our 4th cousins as they are Mary’s cousins.  They are the grandchildren of Kate Triggs ��" sister of Julia Triggs.  I think.  But I can’t really remember due to aforementioned pints.  Mom will straighten it all out, no doubt. 

After we met with our “relies” from Ireland, we met Hazel Vickery at the Snug in Bantry Bay.  What a wonderful little place ��" very, well, … snug.  Dad and I hung out ��" he read the paper, I read my book & enjoyed a few pints (are we starting to see a pattern here?) while we waited for Martha, Mom and Hazel to join us at 6pm.  Hazel was right on time (thanks be to God because Dad was starved!), we ordered and had our wonderful dinner.  Due to the fact that I am a challenged New Englander, I hate fish ��" I hate the smell, taste, texture and look of any kind of cooked fish ��" I know it’s strange given the region of my birth ��" but it is the truth.  So Dad, sitting just to my left, ordered fish which, quite possibly, was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.  I didn’t say anything because I knew he was hungry.  I am a good daughter.  J

Isn’t it true that your parents’ job is to give you roots and wings?  That is certainly true in my situation ��" my parents gave me an incredibly solid foundation complete with values, ideals and morals as well as the ability to apply them to various situations, i.e. work, friends, relationships, etc.  Not that I have necessarily applied my “ahem” Catholic morals in all situations, but they are certainly a nice guiding post along the way.  Suffice it to say, I know when I have completely f***** up and when I have not … so that’s a start.

Time for some grub ��" will try to find something other than pub food, but same is hard to find given Temple Bar area and freaking pub every 3 feet.  (or meters, or whatever).

Will write more tomorrow  - our last day in Ireland.

Love, Kate

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On the train from Cork to Dublin
On the train from Cork to Dublin
St. Stephens Green, Dublin, Irela…
St. Stephen's Green, Dublin, Irel…
Memorial to Irish Famine, Quays, D…
Memorial to Irish Famine, Quays, …
Ship in the Docklands, Dublin, Ire…
Ship in the Docklands, Dublin, Ir…
From left to right - Monica, Cathe…
From left to right - Monica, Cath…
Dad enjoying a pint at the Snug, B…
Dad enjoying a pint at the Snug, …
My futile attempt at Giles Norman …
My futile attempt at Giles Norman…
Hazel Vickery, Mom & Martha at the…
Hazel Vickery, Mom & Martha at th…
photo by: fransglobal