Going to Ireland was for me a search for my grandfather’s spoken word. I wanted to hear a voice I loved, but which had been silent for many years. He emigrated from Northern Ireland to the USA in 1920, so I knew that finding his voice in Dublin might be a tall order. I didn’t know it would be nearly impossible.
As we walked the busy, happy, boisterous streets in Dublin, I heard Spanish accents, Indian accents, English spoken by people from Asia, Russian accents and Italian. No doubt there was an Irish accent or two, but the international flavor of the city overwhelmed me. I had heard from my grandpa that everyone in the world is really Irish, so the fact that people had come to Dublin from all over the world only proved him right. Though people had changed the voice of the city, they hadn’t changed one famous Dublin tradition.
There are several cities on this earth that are known for something special. New York: skyline. Sydney: harbour. What comes to mind when you think of Dublin?
Pubs. The traditional pub crawl is still in full swing. We signed up for a literary pub crawl and followed two local actors who took on the roles of famous Irish writers such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. At each venue after our beginning at The Duke, the actors spoke outside the pub and led us inside to order drinks and sit a bit. We visited nice pubs, especially O’Neill’s, but I have to wonder if the actors were relying on our increasing inebriation to compensate for a quality performance. I don’t get inebriated, so I noticed. Our time would have been better spent just crawling on our own.
Not so with Peter’s Whiskey and Beer tasting tour. His newest tour was gaining word-of-mouth popularity, but I think our enormous number that night surprised him. A group of mixed ages and nationalities, we followed Peter to four pubs. “Sláinte,” he had us practice at the first, where we sampled four local beers. At the second, we were poured a traditional Guinness. I do not care for beer at all, so the fact that I drank half my glass is a testament to the remarkable beer that truly can be drunk only in Ireland. At Slattery’s, we sampled a wee dram of two Teeling whiskeys that actually weren’t dreadful and had a very nice dinner, then set off to listen to some great Irish music. This wasn’t just a pub crawl, it was an entertaining and informative evening.
We didn’t just pub crawl. We crossed River Liffey over Ha’penny Bridge. We toured Trinity College, the jail, the entire downtown with its history – both happy and sad – and we walked for hours. The streets filled with Dubliners of many languages and accents. The pub crawls added tourists speaking from many nations. If I had come to Ireland only to hear my grandpa’s voice, I would have to go farther than Dublin’s city limits.