Tag Archives: Irish Pubs

When in Ireland, find home in the most unlikely places.

17 Jul

Twice in the past week I have heard two different Irish cover bands play “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. Other than “Wagon Wheel” being one of my favorite songs in general, it’s also a song that speaks of North Carolina, my home state. It’s just so weird to think that twice in one week I’ve heard a song that instantly has me thinking of North Carolina, Asheville, the mountains, bluegrass music, and the place that I feel most connected to. I’ve realized that even when I’m in Ireland, I can still receive the strong pull of home.

There are mountains here in Ireland, but they are nothing like the Blue Ridge Mountains that I call home. Every so often I find myself searching for the blue hue that holds so much security and comfort inside me, only to slowly realize that the specific color that holds so much emotion for me cannot be found in the mountains here. At the same time, however, I think if the Ireland landscape was more like the landscape that I’m used to at home then it would make it that much harder for me to leave next week.

It’ll be hard to say goodbye to a place that I feel has taken root so quickly in my soul. Before coming to Ireland, I was a bit hesitant. I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I had no idea what to expect, other than the fact that I was looking forward to seeing the green beauty that I had poured over during all the times that I watched P.S. I Love You. No words can describe how amazing it has been to realize that home isn’t always one specific place. When I come to think of it, I’ve found home in multiple places.

My first home was in a small town in South Carolina. It was where I grew up, and even though it has now become a place that doesn’t hold very much meaning for me, it will always be the place where I first learned about life. I think of riding my Barbie Jeep, my gocart, and my four-wheeler. I think of making mud pies in my Barbie kitchen. I think of my childhood friends…and the friends that ended up not being very friendly towards me. I think of finding my love of theatre, which is also when I realized that it was possible to have another family outside of my immediate family that was there to love and support me just as much. I think of growing up, of the days that I lost myself in books because I needed a way to escape the days when the pain was too much. I think of the nights when I made my own little space in the bottom of my closet that was equipped with a light, blankets, a pillow, a book, and a pencil and paper that I used in order to write away what I was feeling. I found security sitting in my closet…with the realization that the harsh world lay just outside. I found out what it meant to dream.

My second home was Salem Academy, an all-girls’ boarding school in North Carolina. Though I didn’t consider it my home until my senior year there, by my senior year I didn’t want to leave. It took a year to find my own place, but once I did, I knew that I’d never be the same. I found a part of me…a part of me I hadn’t really embraced before. I found my true self…or at least the beginning of my true self. I wouldn’t have been able to embark on the journey of figuring out who I truly was were it not for my best friend Skidmore. I met her during my junior year at Salem, and she was the first friend that I discussed my entire life with, the good and the bad. Skidmore was the first person I completely opened up to, and having someone who reacted so positively to all that I knew I needed to say was also something that was necessary. Without Skidmore’s love and non-judgemental acceptance, I wouldn’t have been able to start to figure out who I was…or what the meaning of home really was.

My third home is, as a whole, North Carolina….but more specifically…the Blue Ridge Mountains and Asheville. I’ve always been a mountain girl, but I’ve never been able to say that I have had the chance to live among a landscape that I love….until last August. And being in Asheville makes home feel even more real to me because I’m in such an artsy city…while also knowing that it is a mere 5 minute drive to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway…or the place that makes me feel completely alive. Writing has done the same thing…given me that feeling of being truly alive. Therefore, being able to write among the landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains…it’s unreal, and yet, it’s what I’ve been doing.

It’s hard to imagine that Ireland has, in a way, become another home for me. And yet, I’m not all that surprised. I can’t think of one person that I know who has come to Ireland and not fallen in love with its beauty. But it’s more than just the beauty. It’s the people…it’s the quaint little village towns and the college cities…it’s the pubs and the pub atmosphere (which, I’m surprised to report, have held more character and comfort than I ever imagined), and it’s the music. I’m a true music lover, and I listen to music every chance I can get. Here in Galway, live music can be found all over the city on every night of the week. I love that opportunity. It’s probably one of my favorite parts about being in Galway. It’s not just live music every night though…it’s free live music. For a true music lover like me, it can’t get much better than free good live music every night!

So even though I’ll be leaving a home next week, I’ll also being going home to a place that I love more than anything in the entire world. Despite the fact that I’m leaving, I know I’ll be back. A place can’t take hold in my soul so quickly and not be a place that I don’t plan on returning. I don’t know when, or under what circumstances, but I know that I’ll be back. I can feel it. After all, there’s only so long that you can stay away from home, even when, sometimes, home has the ability to be so many different places all at once.

When in Ireland, don’t bash all cover bands.

14 Jul

Before last night, I wasn’t a fan of listening to a cover band perform instead of listening to traditional Irish music. However, after hearing an Ireland rock cover band called The Antics perform at The Spanish Arch last night, I was reminded how much I miss rock music. Plus, two of the musicians weren’t bad to look at, so that definitely helps, right?

When Alex and I first got to The Spanish Arch, the pub was packed with people and there was hardly any place to sit. However, I soon realized that once we got our drinks and just meandered, eventually a table would free up. Last night we got extremely lucky and snagged a table that was pretty much right in front of the stage.

I told myself before we went out last night that I’d stick to buying one drink of Bulmer’s and then just see where things went. I’m glad that I stuck to this strategy. On the second song that The Antics played, two guys (both in suits. Why are guys in suits so much more attractive?) came out in front of the band and started dancing. There was another guy with them as well, but he seemed content to just watch the two other guys make fools of themselves. They were completely hilarious though. I couldn’t seem to stop laughing. At one point, one of the guys (the drunker of the two) asked Alex to dance. At first she declined, but then when he got happily down on his knees and begged she gave in and danced with him. It was so funny to watch. You could tell that all of the guys were enjoying themselves. After Alex danced with the drunkest guy, he came back a few minutes later and apologized profusely. Maybe he had realized then how drunk he was. Either way, at that point Alex and I came to the conclusion that the two guys who had started dancing in the first place were really gay (or just so drunk that it seemed like they were gay)…which was fine, but it was also very unfortunate since one of the guys (not the one that danced with Alex but the other one) was pretty cute. Anyway, since the guy of the group who was the most drunk reached the point of trying to get one of the security guards to dance with him, he was told to leave the pub, so the two guys he was with followed him. Since they had to leave in order to accompany their super drunk friend, they asked Alex and I if we wanted the rest of their Bulmer’s, and we happily took the cider off of their hands. Getting free drinks two nights in a row? I could get used to this.

The night got even better when the band played “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. I got so excited when the band was about to play it that I screamed really loud, and the lead singer responded: “Holy shit.” In my head I was thinking: “Hey, I’m just being the music lover/music supporter that I am. There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm for a band, especially if I’m at a pub in Ireland. Sheesh, dude.” Anyway, the band members were surprised when a few people in the pub knew all the words to “Wagon Wheel.” I didn’t make a motion to say that I was originally from North Carolina. I was satisfied to just lose myself in the fact that I was hearing one of my favorite songs in a pub in Ireland. So, so cool. The unfortunate part of hearing “Wagon Wheel” was the fact that it made me pretty homesick for a few songs afterwards. However, once The Antics started playing songs by Blink 182 and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, the homesickness had passed.

It was a really fun night, especially because we stayed the entire time that the band played. However, that meant not leaving The Spanish Arch until about 2am. Though that was fine with Alex, I had hit my limit at about 1am. At that point, I began to find all the super drunk people really annoying, especially because by that point 2 people had almost spilled their drinks all over me. Thankfully, I didn’t end up getting beer spilled on me, but I wouldn’t have been happy if an entire drink would have landed in my lap. Though I was pretty much “done” with the whole scene by 1am, I knew that I didn’t want to walk all the way back home by myself. Plus, since it was Friday night, I knew there would be more people on the streets, and the mantra “There’s safety in numbers” wouldn’t leave my head (plus the fact that I knew that Alex carried pepper spray with her at all times). So, even though we didn’t get home until about 2:30am and my back pain was insane by that point (which I’m guessing was because we had gone out the night before last too), it was a really fun night. However, going out 2 nights in a row is as much as I can do at this point, so tonight will be spending reading and resting up, especially since we leave early tomorrow morning for our day trip to the Aran Islands.

When in Ireland, go to McDermott’s Pub in Doolin.

1 Jul

When my mom and I were traveling around Ireland before my study abroad program began in Galway, we stopped in Doolin because we heard that it had some great live music, and boy did we find it. There were only 3 pubs in Doolin, so we were able to go into all of them to see which had the best atmosphere and music. The winner was McDermott’s Pub, which was packed with people by the time my mom and I got there and had some great live music.

I particularly liked the music at McDermott’s because the musicians were younger. There were 2 guys and a girl, and the girl was definitely my favorite. We later learned that she was a well-known fiddle player and could play a huge variety of instruments. Her talent was pretty obvious, and it was great to hear her play. Sadly though, I don’t remember her name or I’d share it with all of you.

Anyway, if any of you ever get the chance to go to Ireland, make the trek to Doolin for McDermott’s Pub. You won’t regret it! 🙂

 

When in Ireland, seek out the live music.

29 Jun

Last night Alex (my roommate) and I went to Eyre Square in downtown Galway in search of live music. We took the bus, which I prefered since I’m trying to save my energy as much as I can. Anyway, the bus dropped us off at Eyre Square, and we went hunting for music. We saw this pub called Richardson’s and saw a sign that said “Live Music Tonight” and decided to take a look.

The pubs in Ireland can be pretty different from one another, but I like them. Richardson’s was pretty typical. Warm, inviting, plenty of places to sit. Though it wasn’t packed when Alex and I got there, there were still a good many people there enjoying the soccer game that was on tv. Though I didn’t drink last night, the bartenders were very nice and asked us if we wanted anything. Since the pub wasn’t packed, I think it gave the bartenders a chance to try to make sure everyone was happy and enjoying themselves.

The live music started at 9:30, once the soccer game was over. The band was made of up a fiddler player, the beautiful red-headed accordion player, and a guitar player. Alex and I were set for the night once we saw the beautiful red-headed Irish guy. The music was really wonderful too. Since the pub wasn’t packed with people, Alex and I enjoyed it more because rather than the musicians having to play over the noise, the music just played for itself. About halfway through the night, one of the band members (the guitar player) asked if there were any Americans in the house, and Alex and I said yes. His response: “There’s always one.” We laughed.

They then proceeded to play a Bob Dylan song as well as a Simon and Garfunkel song. Alex and I sang along to the songs we knew and cheered happily once the songs we over. Even though the music was amazing and neither of us wanted to leave, I knew that if we didn’t leave after a while we wouldn’t be up for our Lit class at 9 this morning.

We did end up making it to our class this morning, and both of us are still happily chattering about how much fun we had last night. Tonight we are planning to try to find the band we heard last night. I’m sure they’d enjoy having two American girls being their groupies, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

When in Ireland, laugh at the road signs.

24 Jun

In Ireland, the phrase “go mall” means slow/slow down. My mom and I have gotten quite a kick out of this phrase because it just sounds so funny to say. We have come across so many sayings or road signs here that are common for the Irish, but yet make us American collapse into a giggle fit. For instance, I explained in my first Ireland post, When in Ireland, don’t drive like an American, that driving on the opposite side of the road has been enough of a challenge. However, when you throw in phrases like, “go mall” and “Caution: Unstable Road Edge,” the only choice we have is to laugh and hope we can stay on the road and not have an accident.

Since my mom and I were still getting used to being able to get around Ireland by car, when we saw the “Unstable Road Edge” sign, we thought: Great. Just great. We soon found out that Ireland is full of curves, or “bends” as they call them here, as well as bumpy countryside roads. Therefore, shouldn’t they also include a “Stable Road Edge” sign? I think so.

Also in Ireland they call speed bumps “ramps,” which is also pretty funny, especially because the “ramps” can be pretty extreme depending on the speed that you are driving. You know how in America there are some pretty major speed bumps that have the ability to make your stomach drop? Yeah, well, it seems like all the “ramps” do that here too. That being said: ramps + unstable road edges + bendy roads + all the potholes just leads to a bit of an upset stomach at the end of the car ride. Maybe that’s why the Irish drink so much. Maybe they’ve just gotten out of the car after driving on a tiny, curvy, bumpy country road and all they want to do for the next few days is sit in a dark pub and drink Guinness by the pint. Just a thought. 🙂