As I continue my journey through Ireland, feel free to tag along. And if you speak the language, so much the better, because I didn’t understand a word anybody said for ten days. Dublin is fun in the daytime and even more fun at night. Our hotel was right next to St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s central park, and from there you can walk to many of the sites worth seeing in Ireland’s capital. At the Museum of Archaeology, treasures were on display that were uncovered in, of all places, peat bogs. Usually peat bogs are not a lot of laughs, but in Ireland anything goes. Objects of art and craftsmanship from the Iron Age to the 12th century fill the corridors of the first gallery. Afterwards we relaxed on the green at Trinity College. It reminded me of my college days at Syracuse University, relaxing on the quad, wondering how my class was going that I was supposed to be in. Nearby the ancient Book of Kells was on display for a 14 euro admission. We decided to skip it and wait until it came out in paperback. Besides they only open two pages at a time each day, so that’s 7 euros a Kell. For dinner we sampled some authentic Irish favorites at the Hairy Lemon, where the cottage pie was delicious. We moved on to the famous Temple Bar near the River Liffey, which did not disappoint. If you can’t make a friend in Dublin you’re probably not using the right ingredients.
The next day we toured historic Kilmainham Gaol prison, which was witness to many controversial executions relating to the struggle for Irish independence. Afterward we visited Phoenix Park and the Dublin Zoo. I’ve never seen an okapi before, but it looks like a cross between a giraffe, a zebra, an ass, an impala, the car not the animal, and a vodka gimlet. If I left anything out I’ll photoshop it in later. At night we went to the Thunderbird, and I finally realized we were at a gay bar when it became apparent that no guys were talking to me. When we went to the straight bar, an entire stag party conga-ed onto the dance floor all dressed as women. Nothing is uncomplicated in Dublin. The next day we went to pick up our rental car to explore the counties of Ireland. That’s when the fun really begins.
For those of you who have driven on the wrong side of the road by mistake, it’s not nearly as disturbing as doing it on purpose. Even so, we were going along fine until we got to the “roundabout.” You enter it from the left in Ireland, and you keep going around in circles until centrifugal force finally throws you out onto the third or fourth exit, and you’re left to fend for yourself, subsisting on a diet of sticks and berries, until you figure out where the hell you are. All in all, it wouldn’t be so bad other than the fact that it was ten times worse.
We drove down to Waterford, which is the oldest town in Ireland, originally settled by the Vikings. To get there you have to pass through Tipperary, and from there you realize that it’s a long way to New York. A tour of the Waterford Crystal factory demonstrated a cross between the artistry of hand craftsmanship and literally cutting edge technology. We stayed at the Waterford Castle, which dates back to the 16th century. If you’ve never stayed in a castle, it’s everything you ever thought it would be. It was very drafty, and I’m just talking about the beer selection at the bar. The only castle I had been in up to that time was a bouncy castle, and it’s more different than I thought it would be.
Next day we moved on to the famous Ring of Kerry, a two-to-four hour drive around the highlands of the Iveragh Peninsula among some of the most scenic landscapes you can imagine. If you go, you should drive in a counter clockwise direction, that way, when you’re done you’ll arrive an hour before you started.
The following morning, about a three hour drive north, the Cliffs of Moher jut up 700 feet from the stormy seas. They are stunning in person. You can either think of them as one of the Earth’s amazing natural wonders, or the very worst beach in the world. There is a stone wall there to prevent you from getting too near the edge of the cliff, which you can hop over if you feel the need to get too near the edge of the cliff. If you do, you should first find out whether anyone has taken out a large insurance policy on you. Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than trying to remember where you parked your car after you fall down a 700 foot cliff.
After a final evening in the lovely town of Galway our journey came to an end. At last we were on the plane pointed west. Since I already expounded last week on how annoying it is to fly, I’m not going to do any more carping on that subject. By the way, did you ever notice that while you are 30,000 feet up in the air, with the most cutting edge technology and electronics known to man operating the plane, that the one thing protecting you personally from disaster, the seat belt, looks like it was ripped out of a 1964 VW Beetle? Even my car has a shoulder harness and an air bag. My plane has a tray table and an air sickness bag. If this plane crashes and I live through it, that stupid seat belt will have bisected me in two. “Hey Rick, where’s your better half?” “Oh, it should be along any minute now.” I’ll stick to driving, thank you very much. And now I know how to do it on both sides of the road. It may take a few days to get acclimated to the right side of the road again, so if you see me driving, you might want to fasten your shoulder harness and stow your tray table.
Join Rick and the Trillium vocal group for some love and harmony at 12 Peekskill Lounge Friday evening, June 21, 8:30 p.m. at 12 North Division Street, performing with Sun Solo
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