Unpretentious, outgoing and ready for a party – its Dublin.
He reminds me of a mythological figure from Irish folklore. He is wonderful. Fascinating, I think. I tell Joe who is busy distributing cold drinks for all of us. He agrees.
The little man in front of me is one big smile as he has discreetly taken a fancy to one of the girls in the busy ‘Oliver St. John Gogarty’ pub. At his own pace he’s dancing towards her, regardless of the musicians who fill the room with Irish folk songs.
We say Slante and drink. Four of us on the road this time: Joe, my parents (Mum and PK) and me.
– Which song was it again, the one where you clapped, Mum asks. – Wild Rover, I reply. We will be hearing it a few times during this trip.
We kind of started at the top. In the Gravity Bar at the famous brewery. There we had an almost 360 degree view of Dublin city – with Ireland’s black gold in our glasses; Guinness.
The Storehouse: As we worked our way up towards the top we read about Arthur Guinness, the man behind the famous beer. How he signed a lease of 9000 years (!), which cost him an initial amount of £ 100, – and then £ 45 per year. Furthermore, we passed large quantities of barley, natural and roasted, descriptions of the process of producing beer, tasting (of course), advertising and marketing and then finally, the bar with the finest pint of Guinness. Included in the ticket price too.
‘Nectar of the Gods’, Joe grinned happily. Even though this is his home country, he had never been to the brewery before. I’m not usually that fond of Guinness, but here in Dublin I think it is tasty. So I put a grin on my face too and drank. The taste of the beer here is so much richer than the one at home in Norway, where it tastes quite watery.
Outside the large windows the rain and the sun shone on each other. – Summer, that is the day the sun shines, we were told last time we were in Ireland. I crossed my fingers that we would be luckier with the weather this time.
When the issue of returning to Ireland was brought up – and bring my parents – I was in no doubt that one evening had to be dedicated to Gallagher’s Boxty House. A boxty is a potato pancake served with delicious fillings. Such as chicken in a creamy sauce, which I ate when we were last here in 2004. The pancakes were not forgotten and the restaurant has held sway since they opened in 1989. Joe has good memories from -92 when he lived here. – ‘It was busy already back then’, he said.
We have booked a table for seven o’clock. Three minutes past, we’re at the doorstep of the busy restaurant. We are taken to a table downstairs. A little secluded but nice. Drinks?
– Cider, I say firmly. It does not matter whether it is suitable for pancakes or not, I have been looking forward so much to a real cider. I don’t want to wait any longer. Bulmer is on the table and the selections made from the menu that also offers traditional Irish stews. But boxty it is. – Excellent choice, waiter Bobby nods at Joe who chooses Gaelic Boxty – pancake stuffed with beef in a creamy whiskey / mushroom / pepper sauce. The rest of us have been choosing fillings such as chicken, lamb and a kind of Mexican (and spicy!) version. While eating, Bobby is always present in a pleasant way, the service is impeccable and the pancakes are filling. The cider and beer is filling too. It does not stop us from heading on to the next pub for more drinks.
Left: Dave Browne completing his 100 hours world record attempt! Right: Phil Lynott-fans: There is an exhibition in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre from 6th of July.
The restaurant is located in the famous Temple Bar, on the south bank of the River Liffey. When Joe was living in Ireland back in the nineties there were mostly students, artists, small galleries and shops located there. Then the area turned hip and trendy, and so the tourists appeared. Today is the tightly packed with pubs and restaurants, interspersed with shops like Urban Outfitters and North Face.
Soon we are outside the ‘Temple Bar’ which tonight is chock full of people who want to see Dave Browne beat the Guinness World Record by playing guitar for 100 hours. Outside, people have gathered since there are only a few minutes left. Everybody is cheering and clapping while hearing the countdown. And having played for so many hours, why not just continue?! Mr. Browne does not stop here!
We walk slowly up Grafton Street where Molly Malone is still pushing her cart with her “Cockles and Mussels”. We see the occasional busker performing. In the end we find our hotel. It starts to rain once we’re inside.
It’s sunny again when we stroll down Grafton Street again. Crossing the bridge and continue at a slow pace up O’Connell Street where we look curiously up at The Spire, a 121 meter high “needle” in stainless steel. Skewering the sky above us.
We pass a small fresh produce market in a side street, come back to the river again and cross ‘Ha’Penny Bridge’ before we are back in Temple Bar again. ‘Ha’Penny Bridge’ was the first across the river Liffey and it cost a half penny to cross it, hence the name.
We buy quiche and pastries at The Bakery and sit down at the Queen of Tarts to enjoy a cup of coffee. We end our stay in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, which houses Europe’s largest indoor clock.
Our time in Dublin is a little taste for my parents and a nice reunion for us. It is cloudy again when we jump in the car, cursing about the one way system on the streets of Dublin, (we know the area around St. Stephen’s Green park very well now) and head west…