Sixteenth Email- St. Patrick's Week

Sent 3.4.06


It's been a while, but time for the email again. I think a few are on their way as I would like to talk about my spring break trip; however, I will actually have some work to do this week so I can't promise to crank out one every two days like I did after Christmas break. We'll start this up and see where it goes. First thing on the agenda- St. Patrick's Day in Dublin and the week leading up to it. I put some photos of the excitement online, except that the weather was not exactly the best the whole week. I felt bad for the people visiting for the week- they saw the worst weather I've actually seen all year here, and it had to fall on one of the busier travel weeks to Ireland. However, it gave people a good reason to stay inside and check out the Dublin pub culture.

After the trip to the Aran Islands, it ended up being a pretty busy week but not in the school sense. I got most of the stuff I had to do out of the way before my friend Kyle flew in on the 15th, the Wednesday before St. Patrick's Day. His flight was coming in pretty late at night, so I first went to the "St. Patrick's Festival Music and Acrobatic Spectacle" or some crazy name like that. It was raining a bit, but overall pretty cool to see crazy people spinning around on a metal ball in the air held up by a crane. The free music wasn't all that bad either. Afterwards, our small group of about 4 or 5 people went to a bar to warm back up from the weather, and then I left to go and meet Kyle who was making his way into the city from the airport.

Both of us were pretty tired that night, so we headed back to my dorm and crashed after staying up and talking for a while. I had just seen him two weekends before in London, so it wasn't a long-coming reunion, but it was still cool to hang out with my former roommate again. We set an alarm and were planning on getting up a little after 9 am, but we woke up to a light snow falling outside the window. Kyle was going to go to Howth to spend the day because I told him it was pretty good scenery and just outside of Dublin; he decided to cancel those plans with the snow falling outside, I didn't blame him. We sat around for a while at the dorm hoping the weather would improve, but the snow switching to rain was not a big improvement. We eventually made up a big dish of pasta for lunch and then headed into the city, where the weather continued to stink. We headed to the Trinity College campus where we used the weather as a good excuse to stop by the student bar there and chill for a bit, and then headed off around the city with me playing tour guide showing him some of the sights. We eventually were getting a bit cold so headed over to Messrs, another bar in the city, to warm up and look out the windows at all the people that were walking around in the once-again snowy Dublin. I think I saw more snow this day than I had seen all year.

My friend Tom (who you will hear more of since I travelled with him on spring break) had some friends in town who had come from ND for their spring break week. These weren't the only guys who had made the trip across the Atlantic; I think there were somewhere around 10 people that did it. Kyle and I met up with Tom and his friends to get some dinner, and the first two places we tried were pretty busy. We ended up getting a table at the Turk's Head, which Tom and I didn't even know served food but ended up being pretty good. From there we headed to Porterhouse to try some Chocolate Truffle Stout, which is quite delicious. We eventually left there, hit up a few more bars, and ended up back at Messrs where me and Kyle had been earlier in the day. It was already pretty busy, but this was the night before the big day of St. Patrick's. Kyle, Tom, and I decided this would be our night out as opposed to St. Patrick's night for two reasons- it would be a bit less crowded and Tom and I had to catch a bus the day after so we didn't want to be completely tired for that. At Messrs, it quickly turned into a ND reunion. Most of the ND Europe study abroad programs were on break, and it felt like half of those people made their way to Dublin. In addition to that, a lot of us Dubliners were there along with the people who had come for the week from campus. All in all, there were probably around 30 ND people in this one bar. It also got even more crowded with other people, and was soon becoming a bit too much for Tom, Kyle, and I, so we left to go to our final bar of the night, Doyle's. We eventually called it a night and headed back to the dorm to get some sleep to wake up around 9:30 am for St. Patrick's Day.

The first thing on the agenda was a full Irish breakfast at the O'Connell House where our study abroad program is based, which was just the thing to start the day. There was a ton of food and we stuffed ourselves with everything from eggs to baked beans to white pudding. We then headed off to O'Connell St to try and find a place to watch a parade. Kyle and I are both taller than the typical Irish person, so even though we weren't up front we were able to see over most people. It was quite the weird parade- the floats seemed quite unrelated to the holiday being celebrated, and they were intermixed with American high school marching bands. Did I mention the weather wasn't that great? Next stop- Croke Park for the club hurling and Gaelic football championship games. This isn't quite the top league, but still pretty close, so it was really good competition. The park was much more modern than I thought, a top-class facility for sure, even when the weather wasn't all that cooperative with some drizzle and wind. The announced attendance that day was around 30,000, and they only filled the bottom bowl. This was my first hurling match I had seen in person, and it was pretty sweet. I appreciated its speed while watching on TV, but you see a lot more of the game when at the park. I'm surprised this sport doesn't have a bigger following outside of Ireland because it is quite physical. The football game was good as well, but the cold eventually got to us and we headed out after one half of the second game.

It was St. Patrick's day, so any respectable Irishman (or someone living in Ireland) would stop by the pubs. We headed to a place called Zanzibar, which is not really a pub at all but a pretty large bar situated a ways off the main drag of O'Connell St. This was good because it wasn't packed when we got there and we were able to get a table quickly. We showed up right before a live band began playing, which was not your "traditional" Irish music but rather some good and creative covers of a variety of songs. I texted some other people and told them the craic was good, so we ended up gathering a small little crowd there and enjoyed being out of the miserable weather. Next stop was a place called Peter's Pub, which is one of the smaller pubs I have been to in Dublin. This place is a real pub- no signs trying to advertise it, and we were some of the only non-Irish citizens in there. It was a good change from Zanzibar, and a good place to go on the big day. We eventually left there after a pint to find some of Kyle's London friends who were also in town for the extended weekend. They found this bar called O'Sullivans, a place I had never been to before, and probably for good reason. Tom and I (the two Dubliners) thought the place was horrible (you don't serve beer in plastic cups in an Irish pub). We stayed long enough to catch up with some people we hadn't seen in a while, but not much longer than that. The group that we came with soon realized that this was not the place to be on this day and headed out to O'Neill's pub to finish our late evening, and the trio of Tom, Kyle, and I caught the last bus home saving us the impossible task of catching a cab on St. Patrick's night.

The next day was Tom and I's departure for Rome, so I got up relatively early to begin packing for our 10 or so days out of Ireland. I let Kyle sleep in a bit longer, and he eventually got up and packed up his stuff since I wouldn't be around another night to give him a bed. He was spending one more night in Dublin, but staying with his friends who had a hotel room up near the airport. The three of us all headed into the city together around 10:30 am so me and Tom could catch an 11:30 am bus to Shannon Airport, the place of our departure to Rome later that evening. Why Shannon airport and not Dublin airport? The price of our flight was €30 from Shannon as opposed to €100 for the cheapest from Dublin. The bus to Shannon is only €13, so we were willing to sit through a four and a half hour bus ride to save €57. We said goodbye to Kyle at the bus station and set off on our journey to the continent.

Next email: arrival in Rome and the endless sights it contains. And the building next to our hostel setting on fire. Stay tuned.

Keep in touch,

Dan McGee
Mobile: +353 87 056 4163