Archive for the SLAINTE! Category

Quit being such a Gobsheit!

Posted in SLAINTE! on October 24, 2012 by robdc

We have had an amazing time in Belfast. This city has many familiar elements that are reminiscent of Ireland and the UK all together but it is completely evident that this place has some identity issues. Since the troubles the city has become more integrated but I have to say that the only city that I’m reminded of while looking around is Berlin. It is quite evident that only a few years ago this city was divided, the gates are still up as well as the barbed wire. Although the gates are now open around the clock, the fact that they’re still up is a constant reminder that people here were vexed by segregation quite recently.


We’ve been doing our usual rounds, eating and drinking at the highest standard possible but the main event here has been the street art. Because of Belfast’s political past it has become a haven for street artists, especially along the dividing wall that used to keep the Catholics separated from the Protestants during the troubles.


That’s one of the many gates still up around the city center. Here’s what we did with most of the rest of our day.





We managed to have some pretty serious traditional meals, a couple of Irish stews and some fish and chips. But after our run around the city we found some pretty choice spots, we headed to ‘Made in Belfast’ where we had everything from duck to pork belly, I had a lamb dish that provided a pretty decent base for the rest of the night’s escapades. I tried to chart out a path to a couple of bars but my directions weren’t exactly the clearest so we relied on the kindness of the Belfast locals to get us to the watering holes we were looking for.

We started at Muriel’s where the crowd was happy but dwindling then we headed to the Spaniard. We weren’t sure what to expect but once we saw the spot and the rum selection I was sure I had found my home in Belfast.



That’s enough for now, I gotta pass the hell out before hopping a train back to Dublin. It will be nice to be running around a city that I’m familiar with again.




Rich and Val’s 40th, that’s great craic!

Posted in SLAINTE! on October 22, 2012 by robdc

Last night was the event. The reason we were all here. I’m not entirely sure what it was that I expected but for some reason it wasn’t this. It was a fantastic time and it seemed to all come together so seamlessly, everyone had a great time and the jokes just kept on coming. The Riverside Hotel was a great setting for our little event and they had no problem accommodating us. The event was much more organized than I had expected, we all met up at the lounge for “a drink” then moved into one of the dining rooms where everything was all set up and waiting for us.


The food was spectacular and everything was just working, I’m not sure why I felt this was odd but I did. Not because I had any doubt that it could be this way, but because I’m completely positive that I am incapable of pulling off an event with such precision, I was amazed. Everyone took their time to celebrate Rich and Val while at the same time jabbing Rich a bit on any shortcoming he may have, real or imagined.


Richard gave a very nice speech and lots of people got choked up, I don’t want to butcher it but he basically apologized for taking a jewel out of Ireland. Annette had the best gift of the night, she had commissioned an artist to paint the chapel where they got married, it was incredibly nice.


The eating and drinking went on for a bit and it was all quite grand.


Then it was time to celebrate. Mickey had a bottle of whiskey in his wife’s purse, I’d expect no less from him. That kicked the whole thing off and we just let it snowball from there. There was a live band playing traditional Irish music which set the tone for an incredibly entertaining evening.



We drank and laughed until they refused to pour us any more drinks, which was apparently later than it should have been since some of those in attendance happen to work at this place but the time still came to move along. When all was said and done at the Riverside some of our party was in pretty rough shape but when I asked if they wanted to turn in Keara replied “lets keep this party going.”

So we went on to John’s place where some of the party had splintered off and there was plenty more whiskey to be had.


This type of a night serves as a reminder of why I love these people and this place. Although many of these people hadn’t seen eachother in quite some time and, of course, not all of the stories that everyone had to tell were positive, the mood did not waver once from beginning to end. Every moment of this night was enjoyable and I have these amazing people to thank for that.

At the end of the night Mickey put us in a cab and we retreated back to Liz’s to sleep off the celebration. Tomorrow we head to Belfast where we’ve been given a list of must see things which we’ll try our darnedest to complete, but for now I’m just thankful that I got to be here with these people celebrating a marriage that should serve as a template for the rest of us.  Congratulations Rich and Val.


A warm welcome to Enniscorthy

Posted in SLAINTE! on October 20, 2012 by robdc

Why everyone got in to Dublin so early is anyone’s guess, Richard swears it was the tail winds we caught from some hurricane. Whatever the reason everyone was on the ground by 8am and we were fed and on the bus to county Wexford by 10am. It’s a 2 hour ride into town and we have plenty of time to talk about how our trips went, we’ve all been in the air about 12 hours so there’s no shortage of things to say.

We arrived at the familiar home where Keara’s mom grew up with her sisters and Liz is now the the matriarch. Throughout the next two days all the members of the Byrne clan pop in to say hello and share a beer or a brandy, they all want to have a quick laugh before the main event on Saturday night. We are here for Val and Rich’s 40th wedding anniversary and you can tell how excited everyone is for the celebration. You see, Val and Rich got married here and this place has been abuzz with stories of those days, the pictures are pretty hilarious. I can’t stop jabbing Rich about his mutton chops.

Although I’ve been here a few times, I have very little exposure to the town outside of Liz’s place so John thought it would be a good idea to show me the town. He took me up to vinegar hill which sits high atop Enniscorthy and has a fantastic view of the entire town. Here is a top down view of the place.


It’s a beautiful place and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here. The hill itself provides some pretty decent views as well.


That’s Rich and John going through the town, it’s amazing to me how much Rich knows about this place and it becomes immediately apparent that he’s spent a great deal of time here. It’s one thing for John to know everyone’s names and who is who’s father or sister but for Rich to know who used to own what shops or how their families are doing is pretty impressive.

On the way home we stopped by the cemetery, it feels like we have to see at least one every time we come here. This time is was more relevant because of the jokes made about Nole’s plot. The place is somber and beautiful, much more well kept than any cemeteries I pass by back home.


But like most things around here, you won’t go far before there is some traveler (Tinker, Pikey, Gypsy) influence. You might notice that the plots are rather small and most of the headstones are just that and have enough room to list the names and ages of those buried here, then you get to the Traveler tombs and they are just insane, especially when you consider how much these plots and monuments cost. Here are some examples.


Also funny to note is that most of the Traveler tombs are under the names O’Brian and Connors, can’t wait to let Mike know that he’s probably part Gypsy.

Well, time to get ready for the party.



Portishead in Utrecht!!

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 16, 2011 by robdc

Part of the original plan for this trip was to leave Ireland for a bit and meet up with Kerry who had been in Copenhagen. We met in Amsterdam as planned and had a quick bite to eat then I was reminded of a brief moment in Miami right before leaving where they had mentioned a concert going on near Amsterdam while we would be here, I didn’t think much of it until we got here and Kerry presented us with tickets to Portishead! The venue was pretty damn nice and the crowd was as expected, quite varied.


Since Portishead isn’t exactly stuff you rock out to, I was curious as to how the crowd would act, the best description I could give is stoic, rhythmic, thorough enjoyment. The lead singer honestly looked like she started crying during a couple of the more intense songs and Jesus was her performance moving.


Then, after a stellar performance they came out for an encore at the end of which she jumped down into the crowd and made a b-line for us, the guy next to me grabbed her and jumped up and down then when he put her down right in front of me, I snapped a picture then froze, I wanted to say “great show” or something but ,sadly, nothing came out. In a moment where I can only assume her supreme 6th sense for knowing people’s inner feelings jumped into action she leaned in and tickled my belly like the Pillsbury dough boy, I was flattered.


We took some time to let the whole experience sink in on the train ride home, for such an assortment of beautiful and admittedly depressing music the show left us all feeling extremely excited and happy, odd…


The full moon also made for a nice backdrop to the ride home.


That’s it for day 1 in Holland, time to call it a night.



Quick run over to Inistioge

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 14, 2011 by robdc

This is a quick one just to get down a couple of pics and some info on where we went today. We headed out to some more gardens in Woodstock.



Then we headed into the town of Woodstock for a couple of pints, quite the view.



Not much time today so that’s about it for now, should have more from Dublin tomorrow.



Now that’s how you throw a party!

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 13, 2011 by robdc

This was the day I had been waiting for, as much as I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent here in Ireland, this was the the set of events that had most been anticipated. For some reason, which has yet to be made clear to me, everyone split up today. The ladies all went to lunch at a posh hotel, big Noel and Fintan headed to god knows where and John and Mickey scooped me up for a meal and a couple of drinks at Johnnie Fox’s, the highest pub in Ireland according to them. After lunch we went for a drive through the Dublin mountains, I got a shot or two of the scenery and the view overlooking the capital.


Then we got to Liz’s in Enniscorthy and it was time to get serious. We were here to celebrate Annette’s birthday and celebrate we did. The beginning of the evening went as most family gatherings should, lots of light hearted joking and finger foods. Good times.


Fast forward a couple of hours and now you’re looking at some seriously good times. I wish I could put into words the feeling that this group inspires, I have no idea how to explain it, although I’ve only known them for a couple of days combined with the last trip and this one, once you put a few collective drinks in the group they have a rare ability of making you feel like you are a not too distant cousin and this is home. By virtue of being here and having a smile on your face you are welcome and privy to all the fun that is swirling all around you. The following are a selection of pictures spanning from about 10pm to somewhere around 6am, in one order or another but most just to show the mood of the evening.


From left to right: Keara, Little Noel, John, Liz and half of Mickey then Liz, Chris, Annette (the birthday girl) and myself.




Although this is very much how the last night I spent at Liz and big Noel’s went a couple of years ago, I’m still amazed at how everyone here has the supreme capacity to make you feel at home. I can’t thank everyone enough for making this the grand night that it was, I can’t wait for the next one. Happy b-day Annette!



Waterford, all three sheets rolled out

Posted in SLAINTE! on June 11, 2011 by robdc

It speaks volumes to my traveling acumen that I’ve been through Waterford several times and have yet to visit the crystal factory. Today I made sure to remedy that situation. Annette and Fintan dropped me off outside the factory and I headed in, right away I noticed one glaring fact: I was the youngest visitor by at least half a century. I had anticipated something along these lines, but not at this severity. Regardless I headed into the tour and I’m pretty happy about it. The process, although reasonably straight forward, was very entertaining to see first hand.

First these guys get the glass out of the oven (So hot that it has to stay on 24/7 otherwise it would take 2 weeks to get back to its operating temperature) and blow it into shape by hand.


Then this guy marks it.


Then these guys cut it.

Waterford4  Waterford5

Where necessary these guys arrange and do the specifics for one off orders like this Viking ship.


Finally this guy does all the engraving.


The stuff they had laying around was pretty impressive too, considering it was all made by hand by the few guys in the room. The Factory had been reduced in size greatly recently which pretty much assures that these few men are the best that the craft has to offer.


After the factory I met up with the group again and we headed to the only flyover pub in Ireland, Mead’s under the bridge. We had a few drinks and I managed to get a candid shot of Fintan who has somehow remained out of my lenses line of fire so far.



Then we went for a drive through the coast, apparently Keara’s parents bought a house here a while ago and sold it straight away, I’ll have to have a talk with her dad about this decision.


While we were in the pub I saw this on the wall, I gotta see if I can find one for the bar back home. Waterford16

Alright, time to turn in, more later.



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