A Travellerspoint blog

Facts about Ireland

Did you know that Ireland produces around 200 different brands of whisky?

sunny 17 °C
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I have finally managed to secure a relatively lucid period between drinks where I am sober enough to give an update on the journey so far. And while the Irish may have the ability to make over 200 types of whisky, my ability to drink them is sadly lacking, though not for want of trying.

You may see from the images that I have actually done a bit of travelling. Most of it involves old cities like Drogheda, north of Dublin, and the Boyne valley where William of Orange defeated King James in 1690, ensuring that Ireland remained under Protestant rule for another 200 years and is still one of the causes for the political happenings still going on today. Despite what you don't hear in the papers back home, there are still sectarian killings on a daily basis between all the factional groups and criminal gangs. Still all very interesting though.

Yesterday I went to Croke Park in Dublin (the equivalent of the MCG) for the semi-final of the All Ireland Gaelic Football between teams from Dublin and Mayo counties. The football here is still an entirely amateur league, like to old VFL days, where everyone playing has a job like teachers, tradies, coppers etc. and the game still has the atmosphere the old VFL used to have. Everyone knows their team players personally (supporters are generally territorial and related), and because they are an amateur league, they work with most of the players as well. Full capacity crowd of around 83,000 and half the city was blocked off to manage all the pedestrian and traffic chaos that ensued. It was a great game to watch, Dublin won, and that being the case, we all retired to one of the pubs in Malahide where I am staying. That lasted till stumps, and then it was back to the house for more. My memories fade and vision dims from there on...

They are gearing up over here for next year which is the 100th anniversary of what they call the Easter Rising, in 1916. This was when, at the height of WW1, the Irish nationalists (pre-IRA) led an armed rebellion in British-controlled Ireland (mainly in Dublin) and declared independence. The fighting lasted about 10 days, with most of the major buildings in Dublin and other places being used as defensive positions by rebels, including the GPO which still has bullet holes in the front stone facade. The British army moved in a heap of troops and eventually put it down, executing 16 of the leaders of the rebellion. What should be noted here is that none of these guys were soldiers or had any serious military backgrounds. They were primarily academics and tradies who decided it was the only way at the time to gain independence. And because nearly every family in Ireland has a relative who was involved in this period, 2016 is shaping up to be a big year on par with Anzac Day.

The most disturbing thing about Ireland came to light today - Home and Away is the most popular show in Ireland, and Alf is probably the most popular character, to the point where he is a regular on all the talk shows over here. Very disturbing...

There are plans to check out a few museums in Dublin over the next week, but these plans could also amount to nothing if the social side becomes overwhelming again. I am having a night off tonight before back into to it tomorrow.

Whisky count (since 04-Sep-2015):

Jamesons - not entirely sure now, but at least a bottle, based on the empties we found this morning, plus lost memories from last night which suggest at least a dozen large ones at the pub
2 x Teelings (medium)
1 x Redbreast (small)
2 x Bushmills (large)
Plus - 3 pints of Bulmers cider

Posted by VP28802 13:58 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Arrival on the island

It's like I've never been away, everything is just where I left it...

rain 15 °C
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Ever seen the Walking Dead? I mean, really seen them? I know where they come from: the transit lounges of International airports. Hundreds of glazed, vacant looks on the faces of shuffling figures with their wild hair and unkempt clothing (and what is that smell???) as they move in slow aimless circuits of the unnatural glare of the duty free shops. For a time, I joined them.

It was unavoidable. After 14 hours of travel through 2 major airports, by the time i reached Dubai, the heat, fatigue and airline food had started to take effect and a lethargy descended which became hard to shake. It is hard to make transit connections enjoyable after such a long flight, especially with the prospect of half as much travel time still ahead.

There is always something to find of interest in duty free. Electronic temples of delight with the latest products to rival the 2-week old i-Thing you purchased new last week. Clouds of invisible scent from the perfume counters - it's worth a walk through just to pick some up on your own clothes since you haven't washed properly in a while. Food and drink, by which I mainly mean whisky and chocolate, abound (it's like the Emerald City of Oz).

'What part of Dubai are you from?' I asked of the obviously Chinese girl at the duty free counter where I picked up some unnecessary boredom relief. She looked blank for a few seconds of translation time, then laughed as she got the joke, managing to convince me it was the first time she had ever heard it before. This was in contrast to the indifference bordering on hostility in the gaze of the bearded Lawrence in arab garb at the Dubai Tourist counter. I nodded and smiled as I passed him. He did not smile back.

Currency changes take a bit of getting used to. In a rare instance of forethought, I had packed some Middle Eastern currency picked up on previous travels, with a view to using it on diversions while passing through again. Some paper money, around DE35 (DE = dollar equivalents; see current exchange rates). From memory the currency this time was dirhams or similar, and I had 35 of the suckers. That should be good enough for some diversion, thinks I. And so it was, to the tune of a can of non-specific carbonated sugar water. Too stubborn to use an ATM, I suffered in silence. So much for diversion.

So arrival in Dublin was on time and pleasant. Till customs. The drunken Spanish gent without travel documents caused some diversion, delay and finger waving. Every customs interrogation through passport control was accompanied by incomprehension among non-English speaking passengers. Strange that a race like the Celts can master such a difficult language as Gaelic yet struggle with relatively simple Arabic. They pick up Australian fine, and by the time I got up front, my stint was no more than half a minute, and along the lines of:

Customs: How lang are ye heer fur?
Me: About thirty five days...? (I was trying calculate in my head, and kept coming up with a half...)
Customs: Izzit a holiday fur ye?
Me: Yes, well that and a wedding, you know how it is...
Customs: [STAMP] I do so.

Why could everyone else ahead of me not have done that?

Met at the airport exit by friends dressed in the green and canary yellow of Australian cricketing tops, which incidentally coincided with my flat cap of Donegal tweed, I was whisked away to a catch up all round, including whisky, a ham and cheese sandwich and bed.

Whisky count (to 03-Sep-2015):

1 x Teelings Irish (medium)
1 x Famous Grouse Scotch (small)

Posted by VP28802 12:13 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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