Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tidbits and Whatnot from the Isle of Ireland.

Well, all you awesome people following us on this British Isles adventure-ness, it's Spencer. We got some free time at the student hostel here in Galway, so I thought I'd try my hand at blogging.

So, I know you've all heard and seen what we've been doing so far in Dublin, and our little excursions to Newgrange, Trim Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Clonmacnoise, and the Hill of Tara. So, there isn't really anything else new here. But, I'm posting something, and there are pictures, so I thing checking it out would be pretty awesome! You just might learn something...
...or not.

Anyway, so, I don't think I've walked so much in one sitting. Seriously, our only form of transportation through the city of Dublin was our two God-legs and the feet that we got attached. And shoes, those were helpful. But the sights! Holy smokes, nearly everything that is there in Dublin has a history, or a story, or a connection with the Guinness family. I mean, our sense of history in the States is nothing compared to the heritage here on the Isles. Even the most paltry of historical importance is older than our entire country. It never ceases to amaze me.

A little note on the Guinness family that we learned from Josephine: the Guinness family invested a huge amount of money in the city of Dublin, building shelters for the homeless, investing in housing and politics, and bringing revenue and providing jobs. And...they actually paid for the refurbishing and restoration of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Yeah. How's that for a church? That would explain why they sell shot glasses at the shop...
So, the whiskey distillers caught onto the idea of giving back to their churches' heritage, so they in turn funded for the restoration of Christ's Church. So, as the saying goes, "St. Patrick's was built with pints, and Christ's Church was built with glasses."

And the pubs in Dublin! Pubs, pubs, pubs! You couldn't walk down a street without finding a pub somewhere, usually on both sides of the street, and within three or four buildings of each other, traditional Irish music and drinking songs blasting from their open doors. Guinness and Bushmills is to Ireland like Tecate and XX is to Mexico, or Bud Light and water is to America (so classy...). By far, the best place to go was the Temple Bar district in the heart of downtown. Some of the best pubs, some of best interest shops, and most of the more "colorful" population. By far, the best place that we went was the Temple Bar.

Yeah, it was so good, it didn't need to have a name like "McDonagh's" or "Finnigan's"

Jeremy, Justin, and I stopped in for dinner, and we had some pretty awesome sandwiches. Oh, and the pub was pretty awesome, too. I have to say, I don't think I've seen that much alcohol in one place. American bars have nothing on Ireland. Seriously, it was so full that it needed two bars. And the fill capacity is 600 people. That's not sitting room, but how many people can be crammed in standing up with just enough room to pass drinks around. And the live music was quite good. All in all, the best pub that we found while we were in Dublin. Not that we were pub hopping or anything...

And Kaitlan, Jeremy, Justin and I discovered the best place for fish 'n chips. It was a little hole-in-the-wall called the Red Herring. For 10 euro, you can get a side of fresh-fried fish and award-winning chips with a side of mushy peas, served up by an Irish hipster singing Lady Gaga. Seriously, the fish was, like, half of a cod! It was huge! And, mushy peas...don't knock them until you try them. They're a dip, not an entity all to themselves. They were good. Don't judge.

And in Galway, McDonaugh's fish 'n chips, best fish 'n chips so far. And me and Jeremy got in touch with our Scottish roots. We got a some haggis, and it was surprisingly good.

There's already so much information on what we've done, so I'll just leave that pretty much as it is. I just wanted to throw in my 2 cent-euros worth. You know, for posterity's sake.
But, I can see why so many people love this country. And I can feel why the Irish are so fond of their heritage. The land is so beautiful and so rich with history and heritage, and the culture is vibrant and comfortable, if a bit rambunctious at times.
I can't help but get in touch with my Irish heritage, you know what I mean? Seeing the country for the first time is simply awe-inspiring. It makes me proud to be Irish.

One more thing before I jump off the blog: at the old monastic site at Clonmacnoise, there is a small path of inlaid stones that leads from the crossroads near the River Shannon in a straight line directly to the church housing the grave of Saint Ciarnan. Christians on pilgrimage would walk down this path to kneel at the foot of Ciarnan's grave and pay their respects, and offer up their prayers at this holy site. Walking down the path through the hundreds of gravestones, it was almost surreal. My feet walked on the same path that have been used for over a thousand years. It was a beautiful and reverent experience.

So, there's my little contribution to this little excursion. So, family and friends, we're safe (well, as safe as we can be...we are college students, so what other sorts of shenanigans could be possibly get into?) and having an awesome time.
And, Alicia, if you're reading this, just wanting to let you know that I miss you, and I love you. You'd love it here.

So, the adventure continues tomorrow! Hopefully I'll get another chance to toss in a few cents worth or so every once in awhile. And, with that, I bid you good night, because I'm going to bed, because I've been up since 4 am this morning (don't ask).

Love and stuff,
~Spencer Alexander


  1. Spencer dear, of course I'm reading this. It's fun knowing what you guys are up to, can't wait to hear it face to face.

    Love you, miss you, can't wait til you're back. Don't get into too much trouble ;) see you in two weeks.

  2. Spencer, how fun to read your post. Looks like you are having a fabulous time-as it should be-and I can't wait to read and see more. Love you! MOM