Ireland, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, Uncategorized, Writings

Sunday morning and Ennis slowly stirs awake

Dublin is alive and kicking by the time we arrive

Dublin toward dusk while crossing the River Liffey, heading for the Temple Bar district on a quiet Sunday.

Our man Mick picks us up at Corofin Country Lodge on Sunday morning and drops us off in the center of Ennis, as promised. Thirty euros all.

Mick looks like Jason “The Transporter” Statham. All efficiency and business. The man in black. The car in black.  

Unlike Statham, Mick likes to speak. He’s quite a conversationalist. I think. Mick speaks in a thick accent that may have been a mix of Gaelic and English. His words came in phrases, in short rapid bursts like an assault rifle.

Ennis in the morning. Sunday morning. Not a peep. It’s too bad we had a schedule to keep because the city abounds in boutiques and pubs and looks to be a fun stopover between Galway and Shannon. Lots of impressive Irish war of independence history in the city. And it is still a regional marketplace for farm-to-table goods and produce.

Nodding toward some newish houses built side-by-side, and very close to the road, Mick says (rapidly) “Million euros! Eh? Crazy. Can’t afford it. Nobody can.”

Or something like that.

I try my best to keep up because he is really a good guy and willing to drive us to Ennis early on a Sunday morning when the rest of Ireland is still nursing a hangover or dressing in colors for a football game. We do learn from Mick that the local Celtic hurling team, Clare, has its final season game in Ennis that afternoon and is a lock for a playoff spot.

Ennis in the morning, looks like so much to offer once it opens up for the day:

So, all the yellow and gold shirts, bunting, and flags we’d seen weren’t in solidarity with Ukraine. It was team spirit. Or maybe both. The Irish hate foreign bullies, with good reason.

Ennis is a ghost town but looks like it could be bursting with blue and gold waves of incoming fans at about the time we reach Dublin on the coach. The home field, named for the beloved Michael Cusack, is two blocks away from the spot where Mick drops us off.

What do you do in a ghost town? You walk around. The bus to Dublin won’t be in for another couple of hours. I photograph the many closed-up bars and pubs and try to imagine what they might have been like about 20 hours earlier. Perhaps we should have ridden to Ennis with Marie yesterday.

Also, pictures of closed barbershops (for Rose Alcantara who really wants me to get a haircut). And pictures of Guinness signs — easy thing to do as they are everywhere.

We stroll through the department store/grocery Dunnes. It is huge. And the busiest place in all of Ennis on a Sunday morning, churches included. I get a couple of T-shirts for 2.30 euro each and a 3-pak of white sox for five euro. Cheaper than doing laundry, I guess.

Ennis is known as the founding home of the Sisters of Mercy, a piece of news that sends shivers down my spine. If you were raised a Catholic schoolboy, you may know what I’m talking about. I was taught and lovingly smacked across the knuckles and otherwise humiliated by the Sisters of Mercy. Elementary school is where I learned the word “irony.”

We must pass through what remains of their convent yard to reach the bus. No kidding, if I had hair on my back, it would be standing straight up. Goodbye, Ennis.

The Dublin Coach ride is very much like the Eireann bus to Galway, though older and with lots more side trips – Shannon, Limerick, Roscrea, Kildare, and Newbridge before reaching Dublin.

Clare did win, easily, as we learn later in Dublin’s Temple Bar district where everyone is celebrating (I think) the Premier League Championship of Manchester City.

A first night in Dublin, after arriving from Ennis by bus. Of course we went straight for the Temple Bar area:

At least, there is an awful lot of Guinness flowing and rowdy singing of songs. Well, some of this is from a rugby club that has crowded into The Quays Bar beside us. If you know rugby — the Guinness and songs flow on Sunday afternoons, win or lose.

The place is packed but we have a couple of nice seats at the long end of the bar. A guy from Nebraska periodically crashes in between us and waves over a bartender to order a round for his table. By the third time he does this, I feel we’re intimate enough to hold a conversation.

OK, that obviously wasn’t his third round of the night — and there is the music and singing of rugby songs in my other ear — but we kind of talk. Actually, I feel like he needs to talk.

“We spent this most amazing night last night in mumble mumble-louch castle. It cost us $3,500. And it was so worth it.”

Me: “Jesus. For one room? $3,500.”

Husker: “Yeah! One room, one night. And it was so worth it.”

Me: “Did they feed you?”

Husker: “We went over by boat, and the whole staff was waiting. Like they do on the Abbey show. And it was so worth it. They waited on our every wish. There was champagne!”

Me: “And it was so worth it.”

Husker: “You bet.”

Me: “Well done you.”

Husker: “One thing though ….”

Me, hesitating: “Yeah?”

Husker: “Our room overlooked the dumpster.”

Me: “For $3,500 your room overlooked a dumpster. Was it a Medieval dumpster?”

Husker: “No, just an ordinary dumpster. But other than that. it was so worth it.”

The man toddles off with his round of drinks. I raise a glass to them, in salute to the irrepressible optimism of the American tourist.

We wander over to the Shack for a contemporary Irish dinner, then down across the Ha’Penny Bridge and up the busy mixed bag of scruffiness and commerce that is O’Connell Street, past the touristy gift shops, American fast food shops, pinball parlors, and casinos, past the old Post Office, past the Spire, past the Ambassador Theatre, past the Garden of Remembrance honoring those who died for Irish freedom, past the Dublin Writers Museum, and the up-and-down flow of buses, trams, and taxies, across Parnell Square (where O’Connell morphs rapidly into Cavendish, then Parnell then Frederick Street), past Abbey Presbyterian Church undergoing a facelift, to hang a right at the Mayes Lounge.

And back over the River Liffey, heading for home with a big day ahead of us, our only one in Dublin and our last in Ireland.

Suddenly we’re on Dorset, not far from the hospital district, and deep in immigrant heaven — small shops stirring up food of every ethnicity imaginable, with names like Pasha, Wasabi, La Pausa, and Chai. Plus pizza by the slice.

And there’s the Eccles Townhouse, our own little castle for the night. The dumpster is actually on another side of the building. Our room looks out on the Bleeker Street Cafe Bar and Kavanaugh’s Temple Bar — and I’ll bet there are some stories to be told inside those places.

Ireland and The Burren Way Series:

Introduction: Walking Ireland

Living it up in Galway before hiking the Burren Way

Day 1: The Burren Way: Hag’s Head to Doolin and not fiddlin’ around

Day 2: Doolin to Fanore, flirting with the edges of the Burren

Day 3: Fanore to Ballyvaughan, up and over the Burren

Day 4: Ballyvaughan to Carran, and not walking the Burren

Day 5: Carran to Corofin “Turn right at the castle”

Sunday morning and Ennis slowly stirs awake

One last day, walking Dublin with James Joyce by our side

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2 thoughts on “Sunday morning and Ennis slowly stirs awake

  1. Pingback: Walking Ireland | Musings, Magic, San Miguel and More

  2. Pingback: Day 2, The Burren Way: Doolin to Fanore, flirting with the edges of The Burren | Musings, Magic, San Miguel and More

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