Cousin and I are in the really big city now – the capital. We arrived in time for Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, and while the land here is turkeyless (and snake-free of course, thanks to St. Patrick), cousin and I require no pity. To put it mildly, we gorged ourselves grandly at Gallagher’s Boxty House.
Gallagher’s is perhaps the best-known and most beloved dining spot in the Temple Bar district of Dublin. Boxty is Irish for the pancake-like use of potatoes. All manner of meats are stuffed within them, and the presentations are mouth-watering. My Thanksgiving meal consisted of oak smoked Irish salmon garnished with fresh greens, traditional Irish stew, two pints of Murphy’s, a glass of Chilean cabernet, and a heaping slice of Bailey’s cheesecake accompanied by Bailey’s coffee.
I didn’t miss turkey so much.
The weather in Dublin is conducive to fine dining and indulgent pubbing. It reached minus one here Thursday night (Celsius, obviously), and Friday seemed no warmer. It’s fantastically frigid, and while the locals are entombed in layers and headwear and scarfs, I wouldn’t have it a single degree warmer. All that’s missing from my life late this November is live hockey. Sky News Friday morning forecasted snow for Scotland.
High on my agenda here was shopping for some Irish wool sweaters, and this weather afforded the perfect backdrop for that endeavor. I secured two gorgeous and body heat-preserving sweaters from the Donegal Shop in St. Stephens Green Friday afternoon, and it was blustery enough that I wore one out of the shop atop an American sweater I was already wearing.
I’ve nearly a week of experience with this land and its inhabitants, and of the most indelible images of it for me is the culture of conversation seemingly genetic to it. The Irish are ever deep in dialogue with one another, in taverns most tellingly but also at street corners, in bus lines, and as one merchant proprietor to another in front of their shops. After our meal Thursday night Bill and I met two women from Dublin who shared a pint with us and then whisked us out of Temple Bar and to one of their favorite, “non touristy” hangouts for nearly four hours of additional pints and cheerful banter. One of the women was a sports journalist, and the four of us discussed the novelty of the uniformly amateur athletes in Ireland. We also discussed the common corruption our respective nations know in their politicians.
Music is another staple of Irish life. In an era when so many westerners are consuming their songs on line, the Irish hold on to the quaint trait of purchasing theirs in old fashioned record stores. I’ve seen a dozen such stores if I’ve seen one in Dublin. There are as well scores of shops selling musical instruments – seemingly on every corner. I’m at a loss to identify a single such store of note in D.C.
Of their notes, the Irish are peculiar in their passion for Mr. Johnny Cash. His image and his songs are everywhere here. The live acts playing traditional Irish music will interrupt their sets to play Cash tracks. Johnny’s brother is touring Ireland this month, playing his brother’s songs with a band, and a ticket apparently isn’t to be had. I’ve heard much more Cash here than U2.
You know else has the gift of gab? Bruce Boudreau. His nickname is “Gabby,” Tim Leone told me. While I’m not terribly eager to return home, I am eager to hear Gabby hold court on hockey. The man can talk hockey. I’m anxious to hear what he has to say back at Verizon Center next week.