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The Dubliner

Written on: Sunday August 2nd, 2009

Finally, I made it to the Emerald Isle...a place that had been on my travel list for many years.  After a quick flight across the Irish Sea, I found myself on city bus number sixteen, heading from the airport to central Dublin.  Unadulterated excitement filled my being as the bus came down O'Connell Street and eventually crossed the Liffey.  Exiting the bus I hoofed down Aston Quay to Abigail's Hostel, my home for the night.

After unpacking my gear I quickly headed out to the streets.  The hostel was ideally located in Temple Bar, arguably the most famous district of Dublin.  This allowed for the perferct opportunity to explore despite the somewhat unfavorable weather.  I cruised about the cobblestone streets, familiarizing myself with the area.  Not really in the mood to have a big night out, I nonetheless felt compelled to have one pint of Guiness on my first night in the city, doing so at a quiet side street pub where I could watch the passersby from my outdoor table.  The people-watching was good and the beer outstanding, but the night ended shortly thereafter as I wanted to be fresh for the following day.

In 2001 I took a trip to South America, part of which was spent hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.  It was during that trek that I met several other travellers, including Domnick, an Irish lad then making his way independently around the world.  We developed a bit of rapport and kept in contact over the years.  After a couple of near misses to visit him in his native Ireland, I finally found myself here and was excitd to reconnect.  He had invited me to stay at his place and was en route to pick me up from the hostel.  Waiting on the street for barely a minute, I spied a car slowing immediately outside Abigail's front door.  Could this be him?  The car parked and a guy exited the vehicle, a smile upon his face.

"Damn, Dom!  Great to see you again!"

 'You too Shawn!  Welcome to Ireland.'

After a quick introduction to his girlfriend, Emmy, we decided to head back to their house and contemplate what the evening might have in store for us.

Dom and Emmy lived out of city center about fifteen minutes, in a quiet, new development.  As Dom and I toasted a beer, Emmy was kind enough to make us some steaks and veg...yes, the adjustment from life in dorms to life in an acutal home was easy for me to take. 

Dinner completed, we decided to head out on the town a bit.  We first drove north to a touristy pub that was known for its live music every night...even on a slow Monday, like tonight.  We had a couple pints and listened to a few tunes, but eventually felt the desire to head back to Dublin proper. It was here that Emmy dropped us off with a pub recommendation.  Strolling about the vacant streets en route to Flannigan's, Dom said this place should be rocking, especially with the local football game recently completed.  And it was.  The entire bar was packed with folks having indulged a bit too much.  But this wasn't our scene either, so we downed the rest of our Guiness and split. We tried a couple other joints, only to be met by 'CLOSED' signs.  It was for this reason that we later found ourselves inside the actual Temple Bar.  Sure, it was touristy and sure it was expensive, but I thought I better have at least one pint at this infamous pub.  And that's when I saw the gorgeous six foot, blonde server taking orders for only a single room full of guests.  When I asked her of her clients' background, I was told that they were Jameson distributers from America.  Are you kidding me?!?  Whiskey distributors?  From America?!?  This is going to be easy!

"Hey Dom, give me five minutes and I'll have free drinks for us.  Just finish yours before then."

So I scouted the closest group to determine who was in charge.  After a minute I identified which guy was top dog and patiently waited for my opening.   And there it was!  I went in, introduced myself and started the connection.  I asked about their trip and their golf experiences so far in Ireland while also sharing tidbits of my travels and hints of my whiskey knowledge.  Introducing Dom, my local Irish friend, only improved the situation.  As predicted, at about the 4:30 mark from initial contact, we were asked if we'd like a drink. 

"Sure.  How 'bout double Jamesons on the rocks? Cheers!"

From there other US folks started flowing into our conversation.  When talking one on one with them, each would ask if we'd like a free drink.  Of course we took them up on the offers, and soon had to plan a strategy of accepting free drinks while not looking overly greedy.  The best solution, we learned, was to finish them quickly. 

As bartime was nearly upon us, one young Californian distributor headed to the bar to secure his last call.

 'Hey Minnesota!  Come here!'

"Hey man...what's up?"

 'I got us a last call.  You up for it?'

"Sure, but there are eight drinks here...who should we give the others to?"

 'No man; these are for us.  Jameson and giner ale.  Ready?'

Oh shit.  I've already had five freebies from these guys, not to mention the pints we had earlier in the night.  Well, I am in Ireland and still feel pretty good...

"OK, let's do it!"

This first drink went down quickly, for both of us.  A smile, a few words, and soon the second set of glasses were being clinked in celebration.

"Slantia!"

Round number two went down the gullet.  This time we stalled a bit more before grabbing the third set of drinks, maybe a whole minute.  Then we shot those down.

 'Damn, you're the only guy here who can drink with me.'

"Well, you certainly make it challenging."

 'Ready for the last one?'

"I s'pose."

But this one was only half consumed as we were getting corralled out of the pub by security.  During the closing time shuffle, I found Dom again, and happily handed off the half full drink to him.  Exiting the pub we strolled off to the side to discuss our plan for the remainder of the evening. 

"At some point during the night I heard that there was an after party at the **** hotel.  Do you know where it is?"

  'Yeah, it's just one block that way.  But it is a five star place and they'll never let us in.'

"Well, I bet I can get us through, if you're interested in checking it out."

  'OK...let's try it!'

So we approached the heavily secured hotel.  I led us up to the first guard and simply said, "we're with Jameson", and passed by without another look at the bulky, suited gentleman hired to keep riff raff like us out of their hotel.  At the second tier of protection, I recalled the room number in which the party was supposed to occur.  This proved to be the magic password and we were escorted into the opulent lift and sent on our way.  Arriving on the appropriate floor, we found the room and joined in the fun.  There were a few new faces here, but everybody seemed to accept our being there, even when we told them we had absolutely no connection to Jameson, other than meeting a few of their group earlier in the pub.  Unfortunately for us, there were a couple other uninvited guests in the room, and those guys were not quite getting along as well with the hosts as we were.  Alas, the door opened and a polite yet firm request was put forth for all those not directly affiliated with Jameson to leave the building.  I half glanced to see who was laying down the law, only to find that it was my original "in" with the group, the guy who offered us our first drinks down in the pub.  After the other unwelcomed guests left, I thought we were good to stay, as we were quietly chatting with a couple of the legitemate guests off to the side of the room.  This was when he approached and said in an almost apolagetic voice, "yeah, you too, guys". So we said our goodbyes and headed back down to the lobby.  It was difficult to avoid the pissed off looks from the security folks who we earlier duped, but we really couldn't care less as we cabbed it back to Dom's place, reminiscing of our first adventure together in over eight years!

 

From M on Sep 18th, 2009

A month since the last post, so I guess the journey has come to an end. It was fun to check in every few days to see your next stop. Hope you had as much fun as it seemed. Who knows, if you return to your old life, we may do business again and you can share more stories over a few beers.