Ahh!! St Paddie’s Day. Known around the world as being a day simply for going down to the local Irish theme pub and drinking a few too many pints of some dark thick liquid, only to wake up the next day and regret painting yourself green (or is that just me and my friends that do that). Well I know this day a little differently cause I am lucky enough to celebrate this same day as my birthday! Every year even if friends forget my birthday, I can always find them at the local pub willing to drink it up. Not too many folks know the history of this green ridden day but still love the chance to sink a few pints of Guiness. I also was unaware of the significance of this day in Ireland or the history behind it.
This year was somewhat different. Still St Paddie’s Day, still my birthday and still a few too many pints. But this time it wasn’t just an excuse to get drunk and it wasn’t just down to the local for a big night. We were in Dublin and I can only assume home to one of the biggest St Patrick’s day celebrations in the world. This wasn’t just a chance to get drunk and listen to some traditional music, this was a chance for me to experience the culture and learn the history behind this great day I had been sharing with Mr. Saint Patrick since I was born.
This is a short account of how I spent the day:
12:01, 17th March. I am still driving. I have been driving all day but I’m not tired, I’m too excited. Only 28 miles to Dublin, my mates along for the ride and it’s gonna happen, my birthday in Dublin one thing I have wanted to do my whole life!
1:28am. We made it, we are in Dublin! One thing we forgot to do in our planning a stay in Dublin was to organise a place to stay, many would make this their first priority, we however left it to the last minute and spent the night sleeping in our van, which is not such a bad thing. When you can park it in the waiting bay of a car wash beside a service station. 24 hour security cameras watching, food and toilets a mere 10 second walk, I love VanDamme already.
7:48am: I wake up. I should sleep but I am too excited and with too much to organise once again I drive. My theory is if I am responsible for getting there I can really let my hair down and the others can look after me. The outskirts of Dublin is so beautiful and there is fantastic coastlines to see, although we didn’t really have time to drive around and take it all in as we needed to find a safe place to park and make our way into the city for the festivities. After a few wrong turns and a couple of hours finding an information center, we finally made our way out to the caravan park where our van would stay the night. Showered, groomed and aching for a pint of something cold, we headed into town,
2:52pm: The streets are now closed, the taxi driver does well to get us as close to the action as he can (or at least I think that’s what he said, none of us could fully understand him through his strong accent). Dublin city center has wide streets, which just makes it more impressive when you see people dressed in different shades of green shoulder to shoulder walking back and forth filling it from end to end taking in all the street performers, stalls and all St Paddie’s day fun it has to offer.
5:38pm: The streets are starting to empty slowly as people move from the streets to the pubs. So when in Ireland do as the Irish do, but one problem which pub was the pub to be in? There were so many and in this situation there is only one answer, a pub-crawl! We couldn’t decide on one so we decided on as many as we could (it sounded so good at the time). Through the afternoon we found a wide range pubs going from a very contemporary with live traditional music, to an ‘old mans’ pub soaked with character and history hanging all over the walls. We even found time to have a pint at Dublin’s self-proclaimed smallest pub.
10:00pm: Many pubs and many pints later its getting harder and harder to convince the bouncers that they should let us in (and honestly I think the last place may have regretted their decision) so we settled for a place called The Hairy Lemon, a multi level Irish pub with as much music, dancing and Guinness as anyone can handle, here is where we would stay.
? pm/am This is where the details of the night get a little wishy-washy, I do know a few of the details because we had a video camera there, The footage shows a few things that surprised me and a few that didn’t. For one I was driving the porcelain bus in the toilet cubicle at some stage that night, but what did surprise to find Jag in the cubicle filming it. I drank a few pints pretty quick, but what surprised me was when watching the video back I was in a sculling competition with a girl and after three rounds I lost. The footage of me interviewing people at the end of the night was all news to me, as it turns out I did a pretty good job for someone who could barely talk, let alone walk (as the photos show).
The next day, not too badly hung over but my head doesn’t work I must be still drunk we all agree Dublin is a good place, we shower (after a few days on the road in a van and a big night behind you its so wonderful to have a long and hot shower) after a some strong coffee we decide its time to eat and see what Dublin has to offer, we drive into town, with a full Irish breakfast in out sites and to see the city in a reasonably sober way.
Not knowing the layout of city it didn’t take us long for us to realise we were in a bad part of town. My bag was stolen from under our noses. It was full of all our production gear; one of our brand new Sony DV Cameras, two Clié Organisers and a handful of memory sticks to the value of over $8,500. As I reached for the bag to get my camera out I realised it was two late. The camera wasn’t there, in fact the bag was gone. In the distance we saw a couple bolting toward the train station. The five of us two chase, over the park and through the road construction to the train station.
It felt hopeless. Such a waste and the thieves couldn’t have done a better job or chosen a better target.
My heart rate was probably the highest it has ever been and not because the 200 meters I had just ran, but the thought of the losing all that equipment.
Around the corner Scotty had spied the couple kissing in a bus shelter and he didn’t even know what they looked like.
To cut a long story short, we called the closet train station guard and he tried to negotiate with the thieves to hand the bag back. He came up against insults as the thieves told him where to go. Another senior guard arrived, buy this stage the heat was on this couple as the Guardia (Irish Police) had been called.
It was at this time a dodgy ‘Gentleman’ stumbled across the road immediately involving himself in the drama. He was the patsy that took the bag and hid it in a drug rehab clinic across the road. It turns out they were a group of local drug addicts from a methadone programme. With Guardia on the way and the fear of being thrown out of rehab, he gave into the pressure and gave up the bag, amazingly with every expensive item intact.
This was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me, but the result was the best it could have been. Now not hung over but so pumped the 5 of us were in the most amazing state of mind we felt like we had just been in one of those movie scenes where there is a chase that goes on forever but the good guys win in the end. It’s the reality of travelling. You always hear of pickpockets and thieves stealing bags overseas. But it always seems to happen to the room mate of someone else who knows someone else’s third cousin, and I never thought it would happen to us. Now only one day after my 24th birthday I get one hell of a lesson and I realise I still have a lot to see and learn.