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Irish Road Trip with the Lads

Written on: Tuesday August 4th, 2009

Waking up in the guest room of Dom's house, my head was thumping from the previous night's activities.  A quick stroll downstairs not only provided me with a tasty glass of juice to quench my thirst, but also allowed me the first chance to meet Damien, Dom's good mate and our road trip partner for the next few nights. 

Dom and Damien had traveled the world together in years prior, so I knew that I would be in good company for this excursion.  Our plan was to head west, and the first stop of note was Limerick.   Although not an overly exciting city, it was the place that Dom and Damien had initially met years ago at Uni.  Passing through resulted in my hearing tales from the good old days, which somehow seemed appropriate as we were on a current quest to experience similar fun and merriment.

Continuing across the scenic land, we stopped at a castle for a stroll.  Unwilling to pay the ridiculous tourist admission fee, we chose to cross the street and settle in for a pint at Durty Nelly's, a local country pub that has been satisfying thirsty travelers for 389 years!  The pub was quite full for weekday afternoon, but I was starting to understand that this was nothing new for Ireland.  Guinesses drained, we traveled on to the coast and settled in Doolin, gateway to the Cliffs of Moher. 

Securing bunks at Paddy's Doolin Hostel, we set off to get a sneak preview of the cliffs.  Even from the parking lot I developed an appreciation for this rugged coastline.  Waves crashed against the rocky shore as the smell of the sea permeated the air!  But tonight was not for taking in the natural sights of Doolin; rather, it was for immersing with the locals in their local activities...ie:  the pub.  We walked along the wool sweater shops and ice cream stores until we spotted a place advertising Guiness and seafood. 

"How 'bout this place, lads?"

  'Perfect!  Let's go in and grab a pint.'

Entering the crowded pub, we luckily came across a free table just as the previous occupants were leaving.  Individually placing our orders for fish and chips at the bar, we eventually settled in and shared a few Guiness.  Now it was simply chill time...telling stories, sharing travel tales and absolutely devouring the plates of food.  Much to my delight, musicians started showing up and settling in the booth right next to us!  Damn...we sure got lucky with this seating!  Within a few minutes Irish tunes began to eminate from the vast array of local instruments.  Musicians young and old played together for the pure joy of playing.  I got the feeling that even if no customers showed up at the pub, these guys would still be here every night, simply because they were doing what they loved.  It was cool! 

The next morning we checked out of the hotel and headed for the cliffs.  Admittedly, this place was touristy.  But it was so for a reason:  the cliffs were spectacular!  We walked up and down the oceanfront paths which sat well over a hundred feet above the water.  Every time I turned around I had the urge to photograph the landscape...it was that beautiful.  The fresh sea air completed the scene and I now knew why this was such a special place.

We explored the area for a few hours, both atop the cliffs and along the pasture lands just inland.  Hand made rock walls lined each unbelievably green pasture, giving off the feeling of a time many centuries ago.  We even made it to the water's edge, where the waves were met by a rocky shore full of tidal pools.  It was a good morning!

But soon morning turned into afternoon, and we eventually found ourselves in the town of Galway.  Exploring the streets for night time excitement resulted in stopping off at yet another pub, one that featured a rockin' band.  We listened and drank and fraternized til the wee hours.  We made the most of our last night on this abbreviated road trip, for tomorrow would see us back in Dublin.