Spring in Ireland

The past month has been a busy one. I’ve celebrated St. Paddy’s day, attended an international soccer match, visited the Cliffs of Moher and spent a lot of time with friends.

We’ll start with St. Patrick’s Day. I have always loved Paddy’s day and was so excited to finally experience what it was like in Ireland. Everyone has the day off, there’s a parade and people fill the streets to have a good time. My friends and I decided we needed to start the day off right with a big breakfast of pancakes, sausage and mimosas. There may have also been some Jameson involved. We then headed off the the parade. The parade wasn’t what I expected. I was thinking the floats would have an Irish theme, lots of green white and orange, maybe some Irish dancing, however a lot of the floats looked like they would’ve fit in at the big Halloween parade and were a bit creepy. There were also bagpipes, American marching bands and people dressed in crazy costumes. I enjoyed the parade but it started raining near the end and by the time it was over we were glad to leave the parade and head into the warmth of a pub.

 

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Katie, Alex, Grace and I celebrate Paddy’s Day!

The first pub we went to was JJ Smyth’s, simply because it was the first one we found that wasn’t packed. This was where Katie and I had our first Guinness of the day and where we formulated our next move. Our next stop, and where we spent a majority of our day, was the bar with no name. It has no name or sign, and Hozier apparently likes to hang out here. We were able to get a table and people watch while we sipped our beers. After being there a few hours it was beginning to get a bit rowdy and we were ready to move on. This was probably around 6pm. At that point Grace decided she wanted to go home, so Katie and I headed off to P. Mac’s and then we realized we needed food and headed to Wowburger. I should mention that by this point we were convinced it was about midnight but when we looked at the time it was only about 8pm. We were exhausted. Katie decided to head home and I ventured off alone to Gravedigger’s in Glasnevin for one more before going to sleep.

The rest of the holiday weekend I didn’t do much, but I had the Monday following Paddy’s Day off so I decided I needed to make the most of it. I took the DART to Greystones and did the Greystones to Bray cliff walk. It was perfect weather and there were some beautiful views, but I still think I prefer the Howth cliff walk.

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Working full time doesn’t leave me with a lot of free time but I always try to make the most of my weekends and days off.

A few weeks ago I got another chance to head back to the Aviva to see Ireland place Iceland in an international friendly in soccer. A friend of a friend got a bunch of free tickets in the premium seating section so we had great seats and we each got a free pint! Ireland lost to Iceland, but it was still a fun environment to experience.

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I can never go too long without a visit to Laois (which every Irish person teases me over), so I also recently went down to stay with my friend Anne and her boyfriend Ger for the weekend. I hadn’t seen either of them in over a year so it was great to spend the weekend catching up.

On the Friday I was due to head down on the train there was a massive public transport issue. Bus Eireann, the national bus service, had been on strike for days, and that Friday morning a few weeks ago they decided to start picketing outside of the Dublin Bus depots, as well as Irish Rail stations. They effectively shut down public transport for a few hours that morning leading to me being late for work and having to get a taxi, as well as trains being cancelled. I ended up having to get a very hot and crowded bus to Kildare where Anne kindly picked me up.

From Kildare we drove to Anne and Ger’s house in Ballyroan where Anne made us dinner, and then we drove even more to get to Kilkenny to see a band called The Kilkennys play. The Kilkennys play a mix of Irish ballads and modern covers, and I always enjoy going to their gigs.

It was an idea weekend in the countryside because I got to spend time with my friends, have dinner at Tara’s, go to Bob’s Bar, and take Rog for a walk in the woods.

The next weekend I ventured back into the countryside, but this time I was headed out west to the Cliffs of Moher. Katie had to go on a Paddywagon tour for work and asked me to join. The tour took us across the midlands and over to County Galway, then down to Clare to see the cliffs. It was easily the nicest day of the year so far, weather wise, and it was the perfect day to see the cliffs. If anything it was TOO sunny which is a rare thing to experience in Ireland. Doing a Paddywagon tour is not my favorite way to explore Ireland, but their tours are a decent option for seeing a lot of the country in a short time on a small budget.

This weekend is Easter weekend and I have 5 days off which is the longest I’ve been off work since Christmas so I’m taking advantage of the time to go to Scotland. It will be the first time I’ve left this island since I arrived in July, and I’m pretty excited, even though I’m going to a country that I can literally see from parts of Ireland. I’ve never been to Scotland before so I’m very excited to explore Edinburgh and a bit of the highlands, so let’s hope it doesn’t rain too much!

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