Our road trip around the Emerald Isle had come to its denouement. After months of planning and a week of execution, we were finally in Dublin, ready to take on St Patrick’s Day. I have been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and so I had a small mental image of what to expect when it comes to crowds, but I could not have predicted the energy that surged in Dublin as we rode in. Maybe it was the amazing weather (no rain in 7 days) or maybe the country just knew that the four of us were in their land and wanted to show off, who knows. I like to think it was the latter. We arrived at the Shelbourne and got checked in. The customer service reminded me of the Plaza in New York. We had stayed in some amazing hotels the past week, but, to me, the Shelbourne just had an aura of class: almost like a halo made of shamrocks.
A Night to Explore
We had determined that our first night should be spent exploring the city, so we would have a better understanding for the big night. This meant that it was time to hit up Temple Bar. This wasn’t the first time that we experienced a whole neighborhood or street sharing the same name as an individual bar. This all gets a little confusing, but I guess it doesn’t matter when you’re having fun. After a quick burger, we walked towards the famous area.
The energy of the street grew as we walked. We finally made it to the pub, and it was packed like a madhouse. Pushing our way in we headed for the bar. Having a pint of Guinness at Temple Bar is one of those things you have to do. Well check that off my list and add the fact that I heard “Galway Girl” while I was there. This place was uncomfortable and hardly fun. I had people pushing me in three different directions. All I wanted was to enjoy my beer, listen to music, and meet some new friends. Since none of this was possible, we headed outside to finish up. It was so much nicer outside.
From there we popped into Bad Bob’s for another pint. But we weren’t feeling the vibe there. We had heard good things about Turk’s Head and Czech Inn nearby, so off we went. Turk’s Head was funky and fun. We grabbed beers and were immediately approached by some women. As they spoke we realized, we had no clue what language they were actually speaking. *SMILE AND WALK AWAY* The decorations here were colourful and everywhere. Everyone else seemed to be stuck in their own groups, so we decided it was time to go. Across the street, we found Czech Inn. This place looked shady as hell. Going in and downstairs, it actually had a really lively feel on the inside. There was even a dance floor tucked away in the back that didn’t allow glasses on it. Probably a good idea. I know the Irish glassware gets very slippery around this time of night. Mit found the first place of the night to show off his signature dance moves. The night was good. I knew I wanted to check out Porterhouse and the pulse has started to lull, so we went next door to plan our next move. I enjoyed several craft beers while we waited for our Uber. According to a local we met, we HAD to go to some place called “Coppers.” Our car arrived, and we told the guy where to go… and we were informed that we probably wouldn’t get in quickly. From all the stories we heard, we needed to check it out. Arriving, we saw what the driver meant… Lines around the block: 3 people wide and winding around 3 blocks. I guess we would have to try it out the next night. From there we headed home. We had met some lovely ladies and some cool guys, but it was time for the night to close. I just wish we would have gotten some of that homemade tomato soup the one girl was telling Mit about.
The Big Day
Like a kid on Christmas, I could hardly contain my excitement. Saint Patrick’s Day was finally here, and I was in Dublin. It was like a dream. After breakfast, we got our outfits together and prepared ourselves mentally for the upcoming madness: hundreds of the thousands of people there to celebrate. On top of that, it was the Irish centennial and even though that was weeks off, the feeling was buzzing around the city. It was time.
Antoine, aka the #BlackLeprechaun venturing out iinto the madness
I don’t think Antoine understood the amazingness of his ensemble. But after more than 150 people wanted pictures with or of him, the notion began to sink in. We made it to the parade route, and there we were in a sea of green and smiles. Luckily there is pub on every corner in Dublin, so we were never thirsty. We did our best to hit every pub we saw: The Stag’s Head, The Mercantile, The Dame, but there were just too many. Outside of these bars Mit had quite a fan club, but our group was getting large, and we needed to stay lean and mobile.
Sadly, the logistics of the parade were not well-thought-out. Large walls obstructed views. There were no bleachers. I guess some people from the committee need to hit up New Orleans next Mardi Gras to get some pointers. We ducked in Mykonos for a quick bite between waves of people. Then it was right back to the party: Arlington Hotel, by the river, Fitzgerald’s, and O’Sullivan’s.
If I hadn’t seen it, I would think someone was just being racist with all the pub names, but it is actually the names. I think I am missing a couple pubs, but what can you expect. After this, we purchased some more Irish gear, then grabbed a cab to head over to Whelan’s. As previously mentioned, this is the bar from PS I Love You. I am quite the fan of Romantic Drama movies (Rom-Drams). I don’t know if they just have the song on loop, but hearing Galway Girl, in Whelan’s while drinking a Guinness… It was magical.
We crossed the street and hit up Against the Grain and Flannery’s. AtG is another pub owned by Galway Bay Brewing. The place was similar to Salt House. Once again, it served some great brews. Flannery’s was amazing. The beer garden was popping with people and music. It was very festive.
It was time to recharge and get ready for Copper Face Jacks. We grabbed a quick bite from room service and prepared our minds to be blasted. Turns out the Coppers was a lot like Whiskey River/Whiskey Jacks in Madison: dancing, music, girls, bad decisions. The biggest difference is that people in Dublin embrace the terror, whereas in Madison, people hide their love. Whatever, it was time to let loose. Mit was finally able to let out all the stops. His moves amazed the locals while Antoine’s suit bewitched them. The whole crowd was feeling our presence. I see the reason people said to come here. Wow. We headed back to the Shelbourne and opted for a little A Bar session at the hotel in The Saddle Room. Apparently, they will keep serving you until you leave. We had some conversations with some Americans. But it was time for bed.
Anyone that knows me well, will know that I am not big on my own birthday. I like to celebrate other people, but when it comes to my own, I just want to use the excuse to go somewhere fun with people. Don’t worry about presents; I would rather have your presence.
We woke up and realized that the cask was finally finished. It was the perfect travel companion
I wanted to go back to Porterhouse to finish trying all their beers. Sadly, our waitress was slammed and in turn very hostile and rude. We still had some food and tasty beers. It was a good start. I needed to run some errands (sweaters and whiskey) so I left the Shelbourne in a hurry to meet the deadlines. I headed back to the Sweater Shop to get gifts for my nieces and nephews. I figured, what the heck, they may live in Texas, but Aran sweaters are cool. I did not see Aglan, so I asked the first shop keeper I saw. She was the happy blonde named Laura. I explained that I needed some gifts. She dug through piles of sweaters to find the perfect gifts. I then realized the time. I had a short window to make it to Mailboxes before they closed. I think Laura thought I was just leaving and never returning. But I needed those gifts. She kindly put them behind the counter. I upped my pace and headed north. I made it with some time to spare. My knick knacks and gifts were safely boxed and ready to ship. So I had some time. On my way back to the shop, I figured I could hit a couple more pubs: Kennedy’s Bar and The Lincolns Inn. I mean, when in Rome (Dublin), right?
I finally made it back to the Sweater Shop, and I found my pile. I was feeling good, and so I informed Laura that I would need more sweaters: one for every family member. We spent some more time picking out the perfect pieces for everyone. Then Aglan came down and helped us partition the pile into parcels to be sent. The customer care at this place was impeccable. I was impressed. I then learned that Laura co-owned the shop with her father, Dominic. *Applause* This place rocks.
Package was shipped – Check. Sweaters were ordered – Check. One last thing. I just needed a couple more bottles of Irish Water. Luckily James was working again. He helped me pick out a couple more bottles. I told him stories from our journeys, and we shared a couple more tastes.
Back at the hotel, we realized that we needed one more night, so we extended our stay, and started packing. We still had one more meal, and we chose to go to Bang, nearby. It got solid reviews and was close. The food was excellent, and they brought out ice cream for my birthday. Thank y’all. It was an amazing day.
It was early, we were tired, and we had to leave. Never a fun combo. But we piled our stuff into Becky and made our way to the airport. Surprisingly, it was a madhouse.
I had to prepare myself for the hell-hole that is the yin yang seats of British Airways again. UGH!
Have you ever felt a drawing somewhere you’ve never been? Have you ever known something was missing, but you didn’t know what? Well that was Dublin for me. I have seen many places in my life, but I have never felt the same tearing at my soul when I left a place, like I did in Dublin. Ireland as a whole was amazing. But something about Dublin spoke directly to my soul. Just as the sirens drew sailors in, the spirit of Dublin calls for my return. It is difficult to explain. But I am glad I have finally felt that with a location. Don’t worry, I will always be a Memphis, born in Tennessee, raised with Texas. That part of me will never change. But I now understand fully that there is more out there. Go find what draws you.
I had a blast, and I am grateful to my friends, new and old, who made this trip possible. Thank you Mit, Antoine, and Usama for going on this adventure with me.