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  • Devin Gackle

Journals from Across the Pond: 2 Days in Dublin, Ireland (Day 1)

As the last few days of our trip snuck up on us, we boarded a ferry for Ireland. We were up early in order to make the drive to a ferry port in Wales; the view of the Welsh coast made it worth it.

The ferry itself was enormous. It had several levels with different seating areas, shops, and cafeterias; we found a corner with cozy benches next to some wide windows and took over the space. We spent the next couple hours blasting music and singing along while the sea went by around us.

When I stepped off the ferry and set foot on land, there was something comforting about it—the atmosphere just felt different somehow, perhaps a hint of the Emerald Isle’s legendary magic.

Instead of going straight to Dublin, our guide suggested we stop in the Glendalough area, at a forested expanse of land called Wicklow Mountains National Park. She wanted this place to be our first impression of Ireland because she thought it encompassed the idyllic impression of Ireland that people hold in their minds, and she thought our group in particular would enjoy it—idyllic is definitely a good word for it.

We walked a wide, pleasant path flanked and covered by trees; since it was still hot and sunny, the coverage was welcome, and the play of light and shadow added to the mystical atmosphere. Eventually we stopped at a lake with a small, rocky beach and surrounded by idle mountains, and just paused to take it all in. We passed the time by wading the the water, trying to skip rocks, and taking photos.

On the walk back to our bus, we walked through the ruins of a monastery with a small tower and a monastery; to me that was a perfect example of how you can find history everywhere in Ireland.

Our first stop in Dublin was our charming hotel on Harcourt Street, The Harcourt Hotel. Harcourt Street itself is a charming street, and the walk the Temple Bar quarter wasn’t too far. All we really had time for at this point in the day was a little wandering, and dinner.

So, a group of us went to a popular restaurant/bar that serves traditional Irish food called Quays (pronounced “keys.”) It was there I had my first taste of an Irish staple—Guinness Stew! Thick, rich in flavor, heartily loaded with beef, carrots, and potatoes, and served with a couple slices of Irish brown bread, I was thoroughly and delightfully full by the time I finished eating it.

Our plans for the rest of the evening were spontaneous; one of our friends had been looking into Dublin’s comedy scene, and we ended up in the basement of a bar in Temple Bar I don’t even know the name of to see a Comedy Cellar show.

There were three comedians, not including the host; I’m not sure it’s possible to explain their bits or how funny they were, but I can say what was memorable about the performers. The last guy was odd and energetic, and used props and volunteers in way that will give us an interesting story to tell for the rest of our lives—including a pair of panda puppets in a bit about “pandas for hands.”

But our favorite was the first comedian, Aidan Greene; he has a stammer, and bases a lot of his bits off that (with a theme of self-deprecation.) One of the things he does is ask the audience if they have any questions—and let’s just say the whole thing got hilariously derailed after the first question. I think part of the reason this worked so well was because it was a bar basement, so the setting was pretty intimate, but it was also hilarious because he was able to keep going, and take his routine in a different direction based on that question.

After the show we walked back to the hotel to hang out in the hotel bar, which had a colorfully lit indoor/outdoor garden area; we sat down at table, and our young, very enthusiastic waiter convinced us to have tequila shots. So we had tequila shots, and, as was becoming our habit, spent the rest of the evening sitting around the table drinking cider, talking (quite a bit with our waiter), and laughing.

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