As I was putting the boys in their green clothes this morning, and preparing the ‘traditional’ Irish green smoothie for breakfast, I thought back to the trip Hubs and I took to Ireland in 2008. It was the year before Skywalker was born: sort of a last pre-kids hurrah, and a celebration of my graduation with my Master’s in Counseling. But really, it’s Ireland. Who needs a reason?
Today I thought I’d share one of my favorite memories from that trip. There are so many to choose from, but this one stands out. It was our second night in Dublin, just before we were heading out west toward Galway, Ennis, the Cliffs of Moher and Dingle. We were run down and jet-lagged and had discovered the night before that it’s just possible we were getting too old for backpacker hostels. All day long we’d been taking in the sights of Dublin – Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Church, the Guinness Brewery, Oscar Wilde…
At Hubs’ direction, we’d been on an evening tour of some of the best old pubs in The Fair City – across the Liffey and back again after a full day on our feet. We were heading back toward our hostel; and the pubcrawl was beginning to feel like it might end in actual crawling by the time we got there. But there was one more pub on the list, closer to the part of town where our hostel was, and Hubs talked me into One. Last. Pint.
That last pint turned the end of an exhaustive vacation day into a night neither of us has ever forgotten. We wandered into the pub… [I can’t believe neither of us can remember the name of this place – if there are any Dubliners in my network who can identify it from the pictures I’d appreciate it!]… got our ‘final’ drinks of the night and found a spot in a cozy corner booth.
We were perhaps halfway through our pints of Guinness, making plans to catch the early bus west the next morning, when some people asked if we could shift over to share our booth. Of course we did, and as we slid down, the people joining us began pulling out instruments. They turned out to be The Quay Man, a local Irish folk band who were the evening’s entertainment.
Our new location pushed us closer to our neighbors, a sweet couple from the country who’d come to Dublin for a funeral and were out for a drink with their daughters before heading home the next day. We chatted with the four of them and several others as the musicians tuned up; and soon the pub was filling with more late-night patrons and the sounds of traditional Irish pub songs.
Songs were played. Pints were bought and shared. Pictures snapped and new friends made. In my memory, I can still hear the strains of “Black Velvet Band,” and “Wild Rover,” sung by the entire room (including Hubs and I, who were learning as we went). We knew “Whiskey in the Jar,” and “Molly Malone,” and when the band transitioned into “American Pie” — maybe for our benefit — the entire pub seemed to be singing along at the tops of their lungs. It was all the joy and hospitality we’d been looking for in Ireland, and we continued to find it everywhere we went the rest of the trip.
Before we hopped the flight home to Atlanta several days later, we picked up a CD of the traditional pub songs, it’s a well-worn favorite in our house now. We’ll listen to them tonight with our family, maybe I’ll pull together an Irish stew if I feel ambitious. Ostensibly, we do this to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day holiday; but for Hubs and me, I think it’s also a reminder of the joy you can only find when you follow your sense of adventure.
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