I used to have a job at a recruitment company in London that required me to sit in a room on my own for 9 hours a day. One day I had a new colleague to train, the only part of my job as a receptionist that I actually enjoyed because it meant contact with a human that wasn’t an Actuary looking for a job. For your reference an Actuary is someone who found Accounting a bit wild (the same job Ben Stiller had in the classic film Along Came Polly) .
My new colleague sat down and the interaction went something like this:
Me: Hey your eyes are different colours, Heterochromia right?!
Him: My mum is the only other person that has ever noticed that…’Insert a random Simpson’s gag here’
Me: Heeeey you like The Simpsons!
And that’s how a beautiful friendship was born and I found myself on a plane to Ireland a year later to attend his 30th birthday.
The plan was to stay 2 nights in Dublin and then take a coach across to Limerick (also known as Stab City) where the party would be taking place. We stayed in an AirBnB on the river which was lovely, reasonably priced and within walking distance of the city. Being in Dublin we had to partake in all the traditional Irish pastimes like learning about alcohol and then drinking that alcohol before going to a bar to sample more.
We started at the most popular tourist attraction in the city ‘The Guinness Storehouse’, basically a right of passage for anyone coming to Dublin. Could something so popular actually be halfway decent or would it just be an over-hyped, glorified gift-shop? I’m happy to report it’s actually well worth a visit. It’s set over 7 floors which all lead upward towards the sky bar, this gives you an amazing 360 degree panoramic view of the city. We arrived about 2 hours before closing which gave us time to learn the history, pour our pints and then enjoy them with the view. My highlights were the advertising archive and the coopering (barrel making). I cannot tell you too many times…stop and watch the coopering video in the barrels, it’s quite simply amazing.
Before our next alcohol based exploit we had to eat a ‘Hot Chicken Roll from Spar’ (catchy – no but accurate – yes). My friends had insisted that this was necessary to truly understand what it means to be Irish. It was quite nice but I suspect for them it carries a special nostalgia that makes it extra delicious, a bit like a Georgie Pie for a Kiwi or a sherbet dib dab for a Brit.
Full of chicken roll we were off to visit the Jamesons factory. Me, being a recent whisky convert was very excited for this one. The tour part of this was less extensive that I would have liked but the tasting was very generous. Comparing notes, much later, back in London a friend told me that she had been to the Teeling’s distillery and that it was amazing. Having since patronised their stand at a Whisky festival and being very impressed with the product I would have to say, if I visit Dublin again, I will be paying them a visit instead.
Our final Dublin based activity was the classic walking tour that I am such a fan of. We covered a fair amount of history and an awful lot of churches, I started to feel the way I had about temples in South East Asia, I’d seen about enough. Then we hopped on our coach to Limerick, which unfortunately did not run on time meaning we were late for dinner.
My friend’s uncle was waiting with his cab to run us out to the Travelodge and then take us to a restaurant on the river called The Curragower where the birthday dinner was being had. We got to meet the Curtis family, hand over gifts and then eat a delicious fish dinner topped off with an awful lot of white wine. Some of the party then made its way to another establishment in town called Flannery’s, it had a dedicated whisky bar and this is where the trouble started.
My memory retains three things from that night, dancing wildly with my friend’s sister, shots of Jagermeister and then being sick all over a Travelodge. Not my finest moment, in fact probably close to my worst. My friend had completely stitched me up and I realised that the old adage ‘do as the Roman’s do’ didn’t apply when you were trying to drink with the Irish. Luckily Alex was there to be on caregiver duty, a role he totally out-did himself in and for those that are interested, the favour has well and truly been repaid so I’m in the clear.
The following day we were invited to a lunch where my friend’s parents were meeting the in-laws for the first time and what better way to welcome your in-laws than to play a game together? If you’re a mad man that game might be Cards Against Humanity – in this case it was…a very bold strategy for breaking the ice. It turns out the risk was worth it and we all had a fairly hilarious afternoon being crude, lewd and explaining what bukakke is to my friend’s Father (if you don’t know, Google it at your own peril).
Eventually it was time to go and get glammed up because this was the night of the actual official party, you heard that right folks…I had tried to run before I could walk and now I had another night of drinking with the Irish ahead of me. The party was at The Red Hen which was a pretty funky bar that served a mean gin and tonic, it had a whole sprig of rosemary in it that would jab you in the eye when you took a sip. This was actually a much classier affair (despite the impression the picture below may give) than the previous night of a debauchery.
We were on the plane the next day feeling very fragile, my liver had raised its white flag and wanted to go home. It would take several days to recover from a weekend that was great craic.
Featured Image by: Ian Schneider.