Dublin an I have a special relationship. Whenever I’m there I feel different than usual, calm, free, happy. I don’t know why exactly, I just know that the two of us have something going for each other. Or why does the sun always shine when I’m there? It’s IRELAND for gods sake!
the Spire reflects the bright sunlight and blinds me for a moment. I smile and sign to my friend that we need to get off the yellow double decker bus. We walk down O’Connell Street to get to our hostel.
Loud traditional music blasts out of every souvenir shop, and competes with ambulances, horns and all the people who seem to have chosen this exact moment to get off work or school and fill the streets with busy chatter.
We turn left into Talbot Street and pass my favorite pub ‘The Celt’. It’s open already and since today is Sunday I know that Becky will play later with her family band ‘Shenanigans’.
“Hey how are you doing?” asks the friendly red haired boy behind the hostel counter. ” Fine, thanks” I reply and look around. People are sitting in the big entrance hall eating, reading, typing away on their laptops – typical hostel atmosphere. “Here is your Wifi code and your key, your room is upstairs and to the left – enjoy”.
We go upstairs, unpack quickly and head out again. It’s time for something to eat. We end up in a crowded pub where people drink Guinness and whatch a hurling match. “The first Guinness of the night!” I say excitedly and watch my friend carefully sip the creamy foam. “Don’t you love it?” “Well, it’s interesting” she says and switches to cider for the rest of the night. “Where are you girls from?” asks a guy who’s been watching us from the next table. “Germany” I reply and with that we are in the middle of a discussion about the economical crisis in genereal and Angela Merkel in particular.
The evening goes on and it’s time to leave and go to the Celt where Becky and her grandson play old traditional tunes and drunken Englishmen try to sing along and fail.
I order another Guinness and a Cider for my friend from the very young bartender who has the kind of self confidence I always wish for. We settle down at the bar and get involved in a conversation with Lenny, a lovely man in his seventies who tells us that sadly his best friend has just died and will be buried tomorrow.
The Pub smells of sweat and fermented apples. Becky sings “Caledonia” and I listen to Lenny and my friend talk about the importance of friendship and the value of life.
Now I have moved and I’ve kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
– Caledonia, Dougie MacLean –
It’s getting late. Becky and her band order their last Whiskey and play their last song. The crowd drunkenly joins in: “Irish Rover”.
I hum along and don’t want the night to end yet. The young bartender turns on the light and rushes everyone out. Not us, because we are with Lenny and he is a regular here. When it’s only us and another five or six guys, Paddy closes the blinds and gets back behind the bar. Everyone seems to know each other and they all urge each other to sing. Lenny starts and he sings for us. He makes us feel all the sadness and melancholia that are so common in Irish music. And at the same time there is joy and hope and we can feel that too.
It’s my dear Irish home, far across the foam
although I’ve often left her in foreign lands to roam
no matter where I wander in cities near or far
sure my heart belongs in old Ireland
in the County of Armagh
– The Boys From The County Armagh, Thomas Peter Keelan –
For a moment after he finished it is silent, then one of the guys calls out “Johnny! It’s your turn now!” The bartender smiles but refuses to sing until we all cheer: “Joh – ny, Joh – ny”. “Ok ok” he says, closes his eyes and starts to sing. His voice is as impressive as his confident behavior and I can still hear him when we decide to leave eventually and stagger through Dublins dark streets. On the other side of the Liffey river the party people are still going wild in Temple Bar. But over here it’s just Dublin and us.
“We’ll be back tomorrow, sleep tight fair city” I murmur and open the hostel door.