Travel: Part Two

Previous installments on recent travels can be read here and here.

And there’s no cure like travel to help you unravel the worries of living today. — Cole Porter, Anything Goes

I’ve had the great good fortune of spending time– whole swarths of time, days and weeks– over these last few years in that green island, Ireland.

Ireland!  Few nations (we won’t be getting into politics here now, so…) conjure up a such a mythical image of itself.  Rolling green hills, charming pubs with friendly folk always ready to pour a pint, leprechauns…  And while there are thankfully no leprechauns, a lot of the myths (and myths aren’t inherently bad things) hold up:  There are friendly folks, there are green hills, and there are pints–  and glasses (A ‘glass’ is a third of a pint, and one of my favorite things to order).

In past trips I’ve gone to the top of the St. James’s Gate Brewery, overlooking the river Liffey;  I’ve bussed around counties Galway and Mayo, and wound up back in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day (that’s for another post– sorry);  I’ve even rode the train north and spent a Forrest Gump-like day in Belfast, watching a contingent of people pass me by on the sidewalk:  Gerry Adams, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair…

So I recently flew into a city I’ve gotten to know, Cork (“I’m a cork man.”), stayed at a hotel I’ve enjoyed prior (the Clarion), and was welcomed back into the Irish fold.  I took the time to stroll Cork’s streets, and discovered a great coffeehouse and independent bookstore (the places I always seek out).  One of my favorite books from those type of prior excursions is Beecher’s A Dictionary of Cork Slang, and to prove I’ve thumbed it, I went on the piss with the lads and got a wee bit langers.

Beautiful Kinsale!

Then it was off to Kinsale.  Kinsale!  If you’re ever in Ireland, seek out this small coastal village in Co. Cork:  Few prettier places exist in the world.  (Maybe that’s because I’m partial to Nantucket, and I’ve heard tell of this place as ‘the Nantucket of Ireland’.)  Kinsale had in store great fish-and-chips and long walks;  a wonderful afternoon passed at Jim Edward’s pub watching Cork defeat Down 16 to 15 in the All-Ireland Irish Football championship (“Up Cork!”);  and even better meals at night.  And there’s something, of course, about just walking and being near the water.

My favorite little shop in Kinsale.

Following County Cork I got just one night in one of my favorite cities– Dublin, with scenes from Once unspooling through my head– but what a night it was:  Sleeping at the beautiful Shelbourne Hotel off St. Stephen’s Green, and visiting The Abbey Theater to take in a masterful production of The Plough & the Stars, by Sean O’Casey.  (After the play we sipped a little whiskey with some Irish friends–  O’Casey would’a approved.)

I feel, gratefully, that I’ve gotten to see Ireland over these past few years–  a country I didn’t even realize how much I would come to love.  I would encourage you to get over there, step off the beaten path, and discover your own Irish myths.  (One of mine is that I’m Irish.)

The pub on the walk in Kinsale.

Playlist: The Pogues


2 Responses to “Travel: Part Two”

  1. Jess Says:

    Loving the look of that Bookstore! I’d love to wander in one day.

  2. Crawford Says:

    How do you KNOW there are no leprachauns? You should do “Finian’s Rainbow” next year ha!

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