Every year, millions of families around America celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. A day that provides the opportunity to not only give thanks to those around you (typically done via Facebook or a mass text message, cause, let’s be honest, who talks to eachother nowadays?), Thanksgiving also commemorates a time in our history when we were “welcomed” (i.e. not really welcomed) by those native to where we now call home. Thus, when planning where to spend our 2014 edition of this fine holiday, it seemed only fitting to be back to the very start, to the one destination from which all of America claims to originate - Ireland.
Now, I know what you are all probably thinking: “Mark/Skone/Random Blogger My Mom Sent Me A Link To – Why would you travel so far overseas as to celebrate a holiday within a country that does not even pay notice to this historical occasion?" Well curious reader, I answer you instead with multiple questions that don’t truly provide the answer you seek. Why eat Turkey when you can eat Irish Stew? Why spend time with family when you can be surrounded by those with much more incomprehensible accents? Why watch UM lose to OSU for the nth straight year, when you can still watch them lose, but through a video stream of questionable quality? The answer to all these questions, and more, can be found within a summary of our week spent in the great green island of Ireland:
The Mother Nature Bits – A place known for rain, sideways rain, cold rain, windy rain, and any other sort of adjective you can think of associated with precipitation, Ireland is not your typical destination for those seeking a warm respite from the harsh winter at home (well, at least for you non Texans). For those lucky enough to avoid spending their days walking beneath an inverted umbrella (137th most helpless feeling according to an anonymous unknown source), they instead are searching the horizon for any glimpse of sunlight, as "perma dusk" seems to be the way of life from October through March. With sunrise (aka no longer pitch black, but still kinda dark) around 10AM, and sunset around 4PM, the days are short, wet, and dark. On a completely unrelated note, there are 7,500 pubs in Ireland.
Pubs & Hearty Grub – Outside of fabulous weather, Ireland is better known for two entities which are entirely unavoidable no matter where you venture– Guinness & Sheep. With a population of approximately 4.5 million, it is no coincidence that Ireland boasts nearly 3.5 million sheep (appropriately spray-painted as to designate ownership), in addition to the daily brew of 3 million pints of frothy Guinness. Such a vital combination allows locals to not only warm themselves with a delicious bowl of Irish Lamb Stew (capitalized as it is THAT good), they can further up the body temperature by soaking it all down with a “stouty blanket” of Ireland’s most famous beverage. Needless to say, our days were spent enjoying both these fine creations.
Drinking – While one would think this subject has already been covered in-depth, it has not. It only takes a short read of a few facts to realize that not only do the Irish drink quite a bit, they are fairly proud of it too. While we had heard rumors, it was only when we listened to a radio debate on a new law discouraging drunk driving (apparently the old one encouraged?), did we realize the “passion” towards this great pastime. To summarize, below are the key arguments provided by “experts” of alcohol abuse:
- If someone refuses a breathalyzer, it is only because they fear a false reading which would incriminate them for something they have not done (apparently a nice rinse of Listerine prior to an evening drive is a very common practice). Argument Soundness = 3/10
- If someone is unable to stand on one foot, it is highly probable that they are a “clumsy fellow,” and would not be able to pass such test, drunk or sober. Argument Soundness = 2/10.
- If someone stumbles while taking a sobriety test, and is NOT a "clumsy fellow," well, it is highly possible and probably likely that they suffer from vertigo, thus making the test unfair and invalid (since apparently vertigo is so common in Ireland, that people are forced to drive while suffering its effects). Argument Soundness = 1/10.
- If one drinks at a pint/hour pace, there should be no reason for them to be impaired, as the body easily processes the alcohol in 60 minutes. Argument Soundness = 10/10 (Scientifically), 0/10 (Actually).
Needless to say, alcohol & math rule in Ireland.
The Accent – While only a handful of individuals were met whose words were deemed “incomprehensible,” overall, the Irish accent seemed to make any casual phrase or story that much more entertaining. Is someone crazy? Speaking Gaelic? Who cares, they are smiling while speaking whatever language is coming from their mouth, in-turn making us smile, in-turn resulting in words that are of no relevance. Then again, if your B&B host is discussing the “Malice in the Palace” with you, well, then that is just down right amazing. Now if we only could have gotten him to say "Metta World Peace."
- It goes without saying that no Soskolne trip is complete without some sort of travel debacle. And while no flights were struck by lightning this time around, we did have a canceled connecting flight force us to explore various unplanned airports around the US.
- Food poisoning while stuck in a bed & breakfast with no internet, no books, and Sky News on permanent 30 minute repeat is a mini form of torture.
- Cardigan Party. Find someone Irish and have them say that phrase.
- Green – It’s kinda a popular color.
Onto the pics: