Mixed Up in a Real Donnybrook

After such a long day getting to Dublin we started the day late our first day in town. By the time I slept in, collected myself, and bathed it was too late to journey into downtown and still make it home before it got too late into the night. With the buses out of service we did not want to be fatigued in an unfamiliar town having to walk home, especially after our cab driver described Saturday nights as “downright mad.” I’ll be up for that next weekend.

This afternoon we decided to stay close to our Donnybrook apartment so we could walk out to the night life, stay as long as we wanted, and stagger back at a reasonable hour in any condition. I understand that the colloquial term for a bawdy brawl emerged due to the behavior of folks at the local public fair, so we were ready for an exciting night.

20160923_165152_HDRWe are staying in a neighborhood south of downtown that turns out to be a little bit nicer than our funky little slice of Portlandia. Maybe a lot nicer than the Peoples Republic of Inner SE. By our count there are at least 13 embassies or ambassadorial residences between our apartment and Donnybrook’s business district. The brick townhouses and large homes are very old and stately, with expansive driveways that house expensive cars.

G found a local pub that had been in continuous operation since 1739, though only operating under its current ownership for a mere 26 years. Quite large, Kiely’s took up two thirds of a block. Inside, the pub extended into three large rooms that we could see. The size made it appear as if it were not busy at all, though a number of small and growing groups gathered throughout, suggesting that Kiely’s was a local hot spot. We looked around for a seat, eager to indulge with the locals.
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The owner greeted us and suggested we could sit anywhere we liked. Most of the tables were arranged for large groups, but there were only single seats at the bar.

“We want the best seat in the house!” I tried to bait him. The owner looked around and gestured to the table immediately in front of us.

“I’m sure every seat is the best,” I tried again. He was pleasant, but interested in getting back to work. He brought us drinks, and made a menu suggestion. We settled in, anxious for the energy of a growing crowd and a tense game of football or rugby. It was still early when we arrived, so we needed to pace the ale.

The fish and chips were hot and flakey. The fish was served as one, large fillet. G said his Guinness beef stew was solid and tasty. I ate a few forks of my mashed pea side, which was fine, though I won’t go out of my way to recreate it. We people watched as we ate, though in such a large establishment with everyone spread out people watching was not as interesting as it would be if we were packed together. We saw new staff come in and take their places working the floor, certainly in preparation for the coming hours.

Finally, mid-way through our second round we contemplated how long to wait for the crowd. The Chelsea-Arsenal match ended poorly for Chelsea. A rugby match started, and there would surely be another game to follow. Local customers filtered in and out. The group sitting across from us grew to about eight, and even their friends cycled in and out. At some point, we might as well find another pub or call it an early night. G checked his phone for local suggestions. There were a few, but not many ordinary neighborhood pubs. Eventually, we decided to keep moving for the evening. The cab driver from the airport mentioned that the weekend night life is in downtown. No telling whether much of a crowd would materialize in Donnybrook without a game of some sort, and we did not have a schedule readily available.

Outside the streets were calm and pleasant. We found a new route to stroll back to our apartment to scan more night life. While the sidewalks had not rolled up, the air in the business districts was sleepy and relaxed. A sandwich board on a residential sidewalk promoted the pro-choice rally that had been earlier in the day, a short walk north. By all reports the rally was peaceful. The dried leaves of fall that gathered around the sign in this serene, historic neighborhood evoked an image of the universal suffrage movement a century ago. The night air did not yield a hint of contention, despite the issue of self-determination at stake.

Hobnobbing with locals would require some effort if we decided to stay out tonight. We stayed our path and wandered home. It was a lovely evening, even without the excitement of a donnybrook.

P.S. We’ve had some difficulty uploading the photos. Please look for more later.

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