By Chuck RitenouR
Late last night, I was channel surfing the television in hopes of something interesting enough to put me to sleep. I stopped on a PBS channel showing "Visions of Ireland". I was lucky enough to visit the "Emerald Isle" in June of 2005. I spent a week in Dublin at the Days Hotel located on Lower Rathmines Road. I had booked the trip through one of those internet travel companies. I had spent the previous week in England stay in Bristol at the Bristol Thistle Hotel.
When I arrived at the Days Hotel, there seemed to be quite a mix up on my reservations. I had reserved and paid in advance for a suite. Luckily, I had carried a print out of the reservations. Unfortunately, the only suite available was just across the court yard from the disco. The first evening I stayed in my suite was quite amazing. There were no air conditioners so I had to open the windows. The disco was open til five in the morning seven days a week and sounded as if it were in my bedroom. The last song they played every morning was "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cindy Lauper. There was no sleeping until that song ended. I got up at around 11 in morning and set out on foot to see as much of the city as possible.
Dublin had the open tour buses like the ones in London. One ticket and you could ride all day getting on and off at any points of interest. The driver had a microphone and gave interesting bits of history as he drove. I jumped off at Grafton Street, a pedestrian street in Temple Bar area. The street is lined with great shops. There were street musicians every half block or so. It reminded me of Richmond, Virginia's Fan District when I was a teenager.
Like any tourist, I had read a tourist guide book prior to leaving Virginia. I had circled several places I wanted to see in Dublin as well as Blarney Castle and the Port at Cobh. The first place I looked for was the Brazen Head Pub. The Brazen Head is Ireland's oldest pub and was established in 1198 AD.The tourist book had said, "The pub has managed to retain the charm and characteristics of it's past and in particular it's patrons, who have included such literaries as James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Jonathan Swift as well as such revolutionaries as Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone, Daniel O'Connell and Michael Collins.Today the patrons still include some famous faces, including some very famous musicians like Van Morrison, Hothouse Flowers, Mary Black and Garth Brooks. Take some time to absorb the pictures and scrolls covering the walls. There is a palpable sense of history within these timeworn walls."
That was enough to hook me. I just had to have a beer in that pub. I walked around for hours. Finally around 2:30, I crossed Lower Bridge and it was right in front of me. It looked to be built right into the old wall that once surrounded the city. There was no one in the pub except the bartender. He was standing behind the bar smoking a cigarette and reading a newspaper. He looked up and smiled and said, " hello, welcome to the Brazen Head. What will you be having?"
As I looked at the beers on tap, I said, "You know, I travelled thousands of miles and spent hundreds of dollars to have a beer in this very pub." "Alright then, what will you have?" he said a big smile on his face. I said, I'll have an Carlsburg." The smile disappeared from his face and as he drew my beer from the tap, he said, "You must be a feckin' American!" I was stunned. "What makes you say that?" I managed to choke out. He placed my pint of Carlsburg on the bar in front of me and said, "Only a feckin' American would travel thousands of miles and spend hundreds of dollars to reach Ireland's old pub and order a feckin' Danish beer." Then, he picked up his paper and began reading as if I wasn't there. As I stood there sipping my Carlsburg in silence, I realized he was right.
That night, I went to the disco and stayed til closing. I dance with several beautiful "colleens". I drank seven pints of Guinness and bought a round for the house. I still drink Guinness.