Even though it is literally raining half of the days out of the year in Ireland, trust me, it does not bring anyone down. Instead, no matter what the weather, the season, or the occasion, you can find the Irish being their jolly selves… usually jollily getting drunk.
This is only one of many things that we found out about the little island almost immediately after our budget flight landed in Dublin with the sky basically falling down in big pellets of rain. Unlike in Italy, where we are often snubbed and usually pushed and/or lied to, everybody in Ireland just seems pretty psyched to be. As idiot tourists, we were often confused and lost, and at no point did the Irish ever express anything other than politeness and friendliness.
Oh wait, hold on. There was that one time where at the first night out, at The Temple Bar (one of oldest and most famous bars in Dublin) this waiter told me to fuck off after I asked for a glass of water. But see… this is because they would rather you drink the Guinness, since this means that you’re more likely to want to dance and sing to Galway Girl later in the evening, plus they’ve already assumed that you two are best friends.
Being that the Temple Bar is a popular go (especially for tourists) we went there on our first Thursday in Dublin, hoping to escape some crowds. We didn’t. It seems that no matter what time of day (or night) that place is poppin with live music and people jumping and swigging bears and eating ham sandwiches (which is perfectly suited for me). Another great part of this pub atmosphere is that it doesn’t matter if it’s 10:00 am or 10:00 pm. People are still dressed the same, cozy warm in their layers and jackets, and they’re still doing the same things- smiling and drinking beers.
On our first full day in Dublin, we got acquainted with the city, obviously of course with a day of rain. Unlike in Italy where people dress for the tundra in 60 degree weather, during the day some people don’t bother wearing jackets and at night, girls run about in their short skirts and sky high heels, hoping that their straightened hair will escape the rain and that their goosebumps will subside under the warm 45 degree Fahrenheit weather.
Dublin reminds me a lot of Seattle, Washington, with its constant rain and thus sort of drabness, but in a more purposeful way. The gray buildings and forgotten cobblestone streets want to stay that way, and they don’t really care if you think they’re ugly. They actually think it’s kind of funny, which is obvious from the various jokes that embalm this city. For instance, apparently someone thought it would be nice to put up a plaque commemorating the death of a priest. After some searching, the City Council determined that this priest never even existed and it was just a kind of weird joke. The City removed the plaque (which is on River Liffy) but then they figured hey? Why not? and put the plaque back for everyone to have a laugh at.
Another example? Half of Dublin Castle looks pretty, for lack of a better term, castle-y. It’s made of brownish-grayish stone and looks pretty old and like it probably does something important. The other half of the castle looks like a giant pile of rainbow legos. Why did the architect do this? Because he felt like it, that’s why.
We also stopped by Trinity College (the Harvard of Ireland), where, if you pass nearly impossible tests, you can live and eat there for free… but everyone will most likely hate you, as well as the Forty Steps of Ireland, where a scene from PS I Love You was filmed. Plus, we strolled on through the Ha’Penny Bridge, which used to be owned by some guy who made everyone pay half a penny to pass, and St. Stephen’s Green, as well as a couple other sights.
That night, we went on a pub crawl in Dublin, a pretty typical Friday night anywhere, except for once we were going to actual pubs. Sketchy dive bars or places that dads and kids alike hang out, they were actually a pleasant change from nightclubs where creepy dudes try to feel you up when they think you’re not paying attention and you can’t even hear yourself think over the music. Instead, we danced to Irish music at O’Neill’s Pub as locals cheered us on for our poor Irish jigs and shared thick beers on the bars of places that looked like painted over basements, complete with sawdust and 80’s movies playing on the walls.
The next day, we woke up to drive the three hours to the Cliffs of Moher, a sight you have probably seen in quite a few movies, including Leap Year. My roommate and I, Vanessa, climbed the cliffs and breathed in the fresh, crisp air (along with some more rain), gazing over the cliffs and the Atlantic to the various islands that sit in between.
After the Cliffs, we drove another hour to Galway, where instead of driving through highways and street signs we drove through country roads filled with sheep where we had to actually stop and pull over if another car was coming. In Galway, an adorable old man named Liam showed us around the quaint city including how the town itself is built into the original outside walls of the place and the exact spot where Jane Joyce’s lover, Richard, killed himself and continued to haunt her and her new lover’s mind for the rest of his days.
So is Ireland all about getting drunk? No, not really. They love their beer, but probably because it makes them even more able to enjoy their beautiful country, their lively pubs, their springing music, their smiling neighbors.