A long time ago, on a long drive to a friend's house, Patrick and I
talked about life, love and the pursuit of perfection. He said that
all anyone ever needed to know about him could be summed up in these
words: Daisy (his dog - "dumb as a doornail but so sweet"),
surfing, and Guinness.
"One of the holy trinity of litmus tests," I muttered. Girlfriend worthy material is determined by a series of tests related to how familiar she is with particular guy things.
His interest piqued, he said, "And do you know the other two?"
"Hockey and 'Cannonball Run.'"
"And I have drunk Guinness, I love hockey and I've been forced to watch the latter umpteen times." Pause. "So I got that goin' for me."
Delight dripping from every syllable, he said, "Which is nice."
Text message to beer aficionados: "Is it mean to tell you I am at the Guinness brewery in Dublin right now?"
2. go #$%^&*( yourself
5. !@#$%^&*() you.
In Ireland, we are at GMT +1 (daylight savings) so the various people who received this text message were either a) asleep or b) on their way to work.
It's true. It's all true. Guinness doesn't taste as good any where in the world as it does right here in Ireland.
I have quaffed a few of these in my time, and the ones I've had in Ireland are hands down, the smoothest, silkiest stouts ever.
There's such a thing as an illegal Guinness. Apparently every pint glass is marked with a line which indicates how low the head can go. Seriously.
Sean's Bar is the oldest pub in Ireland (and Europe), formerly known as Luain's Inn, in Athlone. In Gaelic, Athlone is "Atha Luain" which means the "Ford of Luain." Luain was an innkeeper who helped people across the ancient ford. Hubby and I stumbled across the bar quite by accident, after we stumbled across the restaurant where we ate dinner, also quite by accident. We spent the day together, apart from our party, on our first date since Baby's birth. We enjoy his company so much we are seldom without Puggle, but rediscovering how to be a couple is also a lovely experience. Across from Athlone Castle, there is a quiet little bistro where we elect to devour angus steaks and perfectly crisp potatoes. Oh I love this country so much, they make my favorite starches so well. And over a bottle of wine, we quietly commune and rediscover the conversations of long ago, when we were just a couple. He wants to hear traditional Irish music so we ask our waitress for a recommendation. She tells us that Sean's is the place to go.
"It's the oldest pub in Ireland," she tells us. And as it is Tuesday night, there is sure to be traditional music.
Walking over, Hubby says, "You know, I'm sure every country lays claim to the oldest something, but how old can this place be? Because Dublin was settled in the fourth or fifth century."
At Sean's Bar, there is a prominent sign displayed over the bar: Luain's Inn. 900 A.D.
"That's pretty damn old," says Hubby.
He is content and delighted when a musician appears and from our little corner next to the singer, we nurse our creamy pints while we listen to songs. Hubby makes a request: "The Fields of Athenry." It's one of his favorite songs. The singer has a strong voice and he does great justice to the heartbreaking lines.
As it happens, Athenry is not far from Ballinderry Park, where we are staying.
"Shall we go see the last star fall in Athenry before the ship sails off to Australia?" I ask, paraphrasing the lyrics.
"The ship's not in Athenry, they're leaving from the bay," grunts Hubby.
Pause. "Oh, well then in that case, should we go see the birdies flying free?"
"Are you you mocking me?"
Odd phrases to order a pint:
1. A pint o'plain
2. The blonde in the black skirt
Greg wants to know how I liked the brewery. I tell him the brewery is just fine, but it's the gift shop that has me gobsmacked. Guinness has some seriously savvy marketing folks. They have everything imaginable in the store, all imprinted with the Guinness logo.
"If this is a public company I want you to buy stock," Hubby says. "Harley Davidson has nothing on this!"
On our way to the Cliffs of Moher, we stop at a pub to grab lunch. One of our party orders the Beef and Guinness -- and after tasting it, I think it's the best dish on the menu.
Katie asks the bartender if they have rice. He cocks an eyebrow.
"This is Ireland, not Vietnam."
It's one of the catchphrases for the trip and we laugh uproariously every time we say it later.
At Brogan's Pub in Ennis, Ireland, Hubby and I are both appalled by the Guinness the bar wench brings over. It's the worst poured pint we've seen since we've been there.
Years later Patrick told me that night's conversation was the first moment he'd been happy in two years. And said he wished we hadn't been on our way to see my (then) boyfriend. There was no recourse from this unexpected confession save one.
I wonder where he is, and if he is downing a Guinness now, too.