It was immediately apparent that the Irish love to talk. And not just, hi, how are you, where you from types of exchanges, but actual, real conversations. (Although the economy and the weather were still definitely the most popular topics). After months of having only brief stilted conversations in whatever English someone could muster, it was refreshing just to shoot the breeze.
The Irish even have a name for what Americans would call b.s. The Irish call it craic, which I understand to mean the art of pure conversation just for conversation’s sake.
Some touristy pubs try to capitalize on the Irish love of craic. Anytime I saw a sign saying Live Traditional Music Every Night! Lively craic here! I knew that was not where we wanted to go. Something tells me that you can get the best craic in places that don’t advertise it.
You never know where you’ll get your craic fix in Ireland. For me, the best extended craic fix was in Doolin. Doolin is a tiny village, by the sea, at the outer point of County Clare. It is reportedly known for its local traditional music. The guidebooks report that there are only three pubs in the village, but a local told us there are actually four.
We heard that Gus O’Connor’s was the best, but we never made it there. We started at one in the upper end of town and listened to the band there for a while. Matt and Tony left ahead of us to head to Gus O’Connor’s while the rest of us finished our drinks. Knowing Matt and Tony like the four of us do, we had the foresight to stop in McGann’s, the pub right down the road, before walking to the other side of town. Sure enough, there were Matt and Tony, who had decided to stop for a quick pint before heading up the road. Except we never headed up the road, and somehow a quick pint ended turned into Tony, at 1:00 a.m., trying to pay the bartender 50 euros to keep the bar open.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself. When we got in the pub, the boys started watching the band. For some reason, Danielle and I hung back by the bar, and somehow got wrapped up in conversations with a colorful cast of characters. I started talking to a man named Patrick. Patrick introduced me to a dairy farmer (who was amused by my interest in his work, but I had lots of burning questions about the cows). Somewhere along the line, I started chatting with a guy from Dublin, while Danielle carried on talking to Patrick. At some point, a very drunk Irish/Australian guy jumped in, and the craic just continued from there.
Before we knew it, the music was over, and the bartender locked the doors and began pulling the curtains. Best we can figure out, once you are in, you are in, and you can continue drinking in a bar as late as the bartender keeps serving. At some point, they try to kick you out. If you’re Tony, that’s when you get out your wallet, tell Matt to get two drinks and give the bartender the rest if they’ll keep serving.
Before getting the boot, Danielle and I were talking to a woman from the band (we think, because we never really saw the band), and she declared that we must have our pictures taken with the owner. She grabbed my camera from my hand and told us to smile, but then realized that she had the camera turned around to point at herself! She then insisted that Danielle and I take our picture with her. She thrust my camera towards Matt, who happened to be standing there. Here, the woman barked at Matt. Take our picture! Being the usual smartass that he is, Matt started taking pictures of the ceiling instead of us. The woman grabbed the camera out of his hand and exclaimed, Oh, for fuck’s sake!
Thus, sometime between 1 to 2 a.m. in Doolin (who can be sure?), our new Irish catchphrase was born. Although in general we tried to keep our fake Irish accents to a minimum on this trip, it really is necessary to say this with as much brogue as you can muster.