I’m not really sure how to describe a week in Ireland, with both old and new friends, other than fantastic. The trip fulfilled all my stereotypical expectations; in that there was infinite beautiful green scenery, a lot of pubs and extremely friendly locals. However, their kindness seemed even kinder when they spoke with fondness to my friends and I (usually giving us directions) in their dainty and comforting Irish accents.
The tour started painfully early on the Monday of Spring Half-Term. So my fellow Frensham old-girl, Serena and I set sail (quite literally) on the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin on the Sunday before hand. That night I got to meet up with my other Winifred West friends in Dublin, which seemed to suddenly calm all the irrational anxieties I had about the trip. It suddenly occured to me that I could conquer any kind of awkward social situation or demanding hike up a cliff if I was travelling with these girls. I realised that even if it turned out to be horrible (which I knew that it wasn’t going to be, but the fear remained), we would still find a way to have a laugh. That night we shared a celebratory, and appropriately nostalgic meal at Maccas (McDonald’s for you non-Australians) in Dublin. What a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! After this reunion, I felt ready to endure the forthcoming awkwardness of introducing myself to new people and battling car sickness on the narrow, winding roads of the Irish coastline.
The following week became one big blurry bus ride. Fortunately but unsurprisingly, we all made a lot of new friends. There’s something about being stuck on a bus with the same people for countless hours that really forces you to get to know one another.
On our ventures, we visited numerous Irish landmarks, including: The Giant’s Causeway, The Cliffs of Moher, the Dingle Peninsula, the Guiness Storehouse and Blarney Castle, to name a few. Despite my best efforts, no photograph really captured how breathtaking some of these places were. Places like the Cliffs and the Peninsula suddenly had me feeling very small in a big world. I found myself with an overwhelming sense of existentialism, very self-aware of my seemingly insignificant presence in a world that was home to such a vast and immense environment.
We spent most nights in different pubs and clubs around Ireland. From karaoke in the only pub in Anascaul along the Dingle Peninsula, to a pub crawl in Galway that had us visiting 4 pubs and a club all before midnight. As a group, I’d say that we all particularly bonded over the night we did karaoke. We sung an assortment of old and new classics, from Piano Man and Bohemian Rhapsody to Anaconda and Shake it Off, all of which seemed to sound better as the night drunkenly went on. My own contributions came in the form of Hey Ya by Outkast and Downtown by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, with the help of my friends Serena and Catie. Everyone seemed to come together as we all danced until our feet hurt and sung until we lost our voices. But by the end of the night, we somehow all found them again, as the notion was proposed to force our bus driver (who still had to drive us all around tomorrow, mind you) to down his beer. This bonded us even more as mates, as we all joined in on the classic Australian drinking chant of “Here’s to Wally, he’s true blue…”
Without fail, every night brought new dance moves and friendships, both with locals and other people in the Paddy Wagon crew. The nights seemed to go on forever, as we consistently pierced the ears of the Irish, entering most places with one person shouting “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie” and the rest of us following and screaming “Oi! Oi! Oi”.
Despite being warned beforehand by a colleague, that: “Just because Irish men have sexy voices does not mean they’re telling the truth”, the locals still held a certain fascination to us. Every night they continued to impress us all with their ruggish yet delicate way of speaking and in particular, their tolerance for alcohol as they could easily down a pint quicker than any Aussie ever could.
All in all I had an exceptional time. That is, despite by the end of the week being not the only one to feel entirely exhausted and picking up a cold. Truthfully though, this was almost inevitable as we’d all been eating the cheapest food possible (being on a gappie’s budget), never got more than 5 hours sleep, and had essentially been living in each others germs for the past week, in various 10 person dorm rooms. Needless to say, work on Monday is going to be a struggle.
But as the photos from the past week of banter, exploring and ridiculously touristy poses currently circulate my Facebook newsfeed, I realise that this trip will no doubt be permanently burned into my memory. I’ll always think of it as the time I met some of my favourite people and got my first glimpse of independence. For the first time, I traveled somewhere out of my own free will (and unfortunately my own pocket). I found it an oddly new experience to discover new places without my family. But equally, an exhilarating one, as I’ve now got more great memories to share with some of my closest friends.
Until next time Ireland… Bring on Spring Holidays!