By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
When questioned about the often spirited revelry that lasted well into the morning during the Saturday of the 2019 Dublin Horse Show, the manager of our hotel responded succinctly, honestly and effectively: “That’s Ireland.”
Attending the Dublin Horse Show, reportedly one of the top three equestrian events in the world, truly was a highlight of our trip.
Those two words encapsulated the recent visit by Susan and I to the island nation — specifically the capital city of Dublin as well as day trip visits to other cities and small coastal towns. The Ireland we experienced was a place of warmth and genuine hospitality, and the people we encountered were welcoming and truly enjoyed celebrating. And, as noted, sometimes the celebration lasted long into the night.
What follows are memories in the ongoing effort by The PRDude to share in words and pictures what was experienced and perhaps not found in a guidebook during our visits to new places around the United States and other parts of the world.
The People. From the man at the airport who helped us find our shuttle bus, to bartenders and servers at the many pubs we visited, to the guy on the DART platform who assured me I was taking the right train to Sandymount, virtually everyone we encountered in Ireland was cordial, giving and open. Casual encounters evolved into conversations. The Irish people are truly among its strengths. Where else do people regularly thank the bus driver?
A visit to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells is recommended. Get there by 9 am to avoid the lines.
The Outlook. On a DART train ride to the fishing village of Howth, I looked to the east as the train passed over the River Liffey and through the Dublin city centre. To the east I counted 28 construction trains; in other parts of the city, there were more. Clearly the Celtic Tiger economy has rebounded. Dublin and other cities in Ireland are desirable and vital places, however, housing prices are soaring. Rental housing in the very upscale Ballsbridge neighborhood near our hotel, the Clayton Ballsbridge, are steep by any means, with some two-bedroom units listed at 4,000 euros.
The Countryside. Dublin, with its crooked streets, shops and pubs, street musicians and vitality, was delightful. But we wanted to see other parts of Ireland. So we traveled by train to the medieval city of Galway on the west coast, and headed up north to Belfast in Ulster or Northern Ireland. En route, we were charmed by the undulating — and yes, very green — landscape along the Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) routes to these cities. Every few miles there would be a small farm with what looked like very happy cows and goats. This was storybook stuff, unadulterated and real. Wish we could have spent time there.
The Customs House, an impressive edifice along the River Liffey, makes for a great photo.
The Language. Yes, the Irish speak English, but with an accent. And, some train messages and signage was in Gaelic — which is not at all like English! But we picked up on some words and sayings we found fascinating. Note this list, then think of what they would mean here in America. Scroll to the bottom for answers.
- To Let
- Mind the Gap
You may have wondered about whether we enjoyed the pubs and music. Did we tour castles. Oh yes. Watch for the pictures in an upcoming travelogue post. But first, I was inspired early during our trip to compose this poem:
Cascades like a fond memory
When you can’t expect to find shelter
Somewhere on Grafton Street.
We laughed under an awning
Knowing we could make St. Stephen’s Green
Embraced by all that would not leave us wanting or caring.
Subtle bursts of blue skyward
Are somewhat welcomed, then summarily dismissed
Because you rarely hear Dublin rain and it’s not invisible.
We lingered longingly after the farewell encounter,
Hoping and envious for a reappearance
Somewhere on the next crooked, cobblestoned street
Now, for the answers:
- To Let — To rent or lease. Think of “sublet.”
- Brolly/Umbrie — We watched to see people were carrying these — umbrellas.
- Clamping — Better not park your car illegally. You’ll get the boot.
- Crisps — Otherwise known as potato chips — only the ones in Ireland were better.
- Mind the Gap — Be careful when departing a train, otherwise you might fall into the gap between the car and station.
One more thing: Should you visit greater Dublin, take the DART south toward Bray and get off at Dalkey. This quiet town boasts many fine establishments, including Finnegan’s. A source told us none other than Bono frequents this classic pub. We looked in the window during our visit, but no sign of the U2 frontman.
A reason to return.