(Ed. note: I started this post on Sunday while cruising on the River Shannon. After 31 hours of wakefulness from Monday morning to Tuesday night, 10 hours of sleep and a visit to the office, I will continue from our soon to be vacated home in Jiaxing.)
Last week I told you about the first few days of my Irish Experience. Today, less that 24 hours before I go back to the warmth and humidity of Jiaxing, I will tell you all about the last 8 days. 6 days of golf – 10 rounds for the other three and 6 for me.
On Saturday Lee and I wandered down O’Connell Street. This spire took the place of the Nelson Monument which was blown up by the Irish government in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Now apparently it took 20 or 30 years to be replaced, but at least it happened and it is no longer a monument to Nelson, just to Irish – ahhhhh – creativity.
From there it was off to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, an illustrated colour version of the Four Gospels. (Ed. note: Never got arrested in China, but could have been arrested in Ireland as there are ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHS ALLOWED.) It is quite an amazing book, done by four unknown scribes. Every illustration on every page meant something and the illustrations were incredible. The way they corrected their mistakes was also quite ingenious – no whiteout for them.
On our walk, we spied The Brazen Head pub – the oldest pub in Ireland.
As we drove in and wandered around Dublin, this sign was quite prevalent. Turns out it was regarding a referendum voted on yesterday (May 23) regarding the legalization of gay marriage.
From there it was off to a tour of the Guinness Brewery. It was, perhaps, the least interesting tour I have ever been on, with a couple of exceptions. First was the fact that while there were an awful lot of people touring the place, most don’t like Guinness. With your admission ticket, you get one free pint at the Gravity Bar, on the top floor. Lee and I had three each since most people got their pint, took a sip and offered it to anyone else around. The other impressive thing was the huge marketing machine that is Guinness – if it is made, they have their name on it – shirts, hats, golf accessories, towels or on it and in it – chocolate bars, toffee, potato chips, etc. etc.
Saturday evening Peter and Mike arrived and we went back to the hotel, getting there around 7. Now remember that the south/Republic of Ireland is predominantly Roman Catholic. At the hotel, which is really just a stopover from the airport, there were two communion celebrations going on. Between the two they had over 250 attendees – of which it seemed that 300 were free running children. Okay, perhaps I exaggerate – maybe only 275. (Ed. note: Yes I Know, I said 250 but I learned all about hyperbole from Terry) I would have thought I was back in China except for all the Guinness on the tables and the crying women in the bar watching the celebration of some guy named Gerrard playing his last home soccer game.
The next day the golfing marathon started – 10 or 6 rounds, 9 or 6 golf courses. Peter, Lee and Mike teed off at 8am on Seapoint (Ed. note: Right next to County Louth on the map), the first of the links courses to be played.
Did you know that the term links course came from using the unusable land which linked the sea with the arable land? I didn’t. Anyway, after arriving at 6 the night before, listening to screaming kids, little sleep and playing 18 holes, by the time they got to County Louth at 12, the lads (Ed. note – one of the favourite terms in Ireland) were a tad shanked.
Just in case you’re lost, the signs in the clubhouse were quite helpful.
Monday we were up bright and early for the road south to the Portmarnock Golf Links Course. It was a lovely day with almost no rain, but a strong wind or, as the Irish told us, a gentle breeze. Ha. I purchased a rather fetching fleece lined top.
This was the first course we came across gorse – which is actually the Irish word for ball-eating, arm-ripping thorn-covered bramble plant. I know many of you won’t believe this, but in the 6 rounds and roughly 800 shots I took, not one went into this stuff. (Ed. note: 1. They went everywhere else, just not into the gorse. 2. This cannot be said of the other three! Ha)
The Portmarnock Links Clubhouse is a fine old building dating back to the mid 1800’s. In 2002 the hotel added a new wing. Now I don’t know if the “architect” was drunk, bitter at some slight, hated golf or was just a reckon amadain but the addition looks like a prison. It has plain grey walls with windows – no colour, no balconies, no relief. One would not dare to even use the word minimalist. It is as though it is waiting for the final surface to be added. Think early SFU. I looked on the internet to find a better photo, but they haven’t seemed to focus on that part of the structure for some reason.
After that it was a three hour drive to Castlerock, where relatives of Peter welcomed us into their lovely holiday home for two nights. We played at Ballyliffin – 4 of us at Glashedy Links, then the 3 at The Old Course. To say that the weather was typical Irish weather means that we saw all four seasons in one day. There was a cold biting wind all day, hail that fell so badly Lee tried unsuccessfully to hide under a three foot stone cairn for protection, rain which drove sideways, and sun that had no impact of warmth due to the wind. Even the pro thought we were crazy to go out. By the afternoon, though, there was just mostly sun and wind.
Now, to be fair, at this point in time Peter has been in Ireland just about 72 hours and has played 5 rounds of golf. But still,
The Shoe Blog
The Irish people are wonderful people – friendly, helpful, solid imbibers and very very welcoming. However, I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t understand them very well. I thought that their “English” sounded more like Polish. They have a very large Polish immigrant population. In fact, in walking around Dublin and hearing conversations on the street, in seemed there were far more Poles than Irish. Anyway, these two were waltzing along on Friday evening decked out to party.
Nest time: Does Geoff get to Skerries?
*The Title of this post:
I An bhfuil Tar, Been buailte Chun Mo Glúine agus Tite i Grá – Ah Ireland or
I Have Come, Been beaten To My Knees and Fallen in Love – Ah Ireland
(Ed. note: At least according to Google Translate, so don’t all you Gaelic speakers come down on me – write Google a letter)