Dublin was a day for tourism, but my big reason for visiting Ireland was to check in with some friends of mine. The first stop was to see Kev and Kathy, two friends of mine who I taught with in Seoul a few summers ago. They now have a beautiful little baby, which always makes for a fun visit.
I rolled in off of the Irish Rail train after 9:20, and was pretty quickly in a Friday sit-down and drink with my hosts and a few of their friends. 9 bottles of wine between the group of us and a cheese plate later, and we were drunk and having fun. With only about twelve hours of sleep within three days, I turned in around 2 am and ended up having the most spectacular sleep I’ve had in the longest possible time. Thanks, real bed and goose down duvet!
Castlebar isn’t the biggest town, about 20000 people, but it’s trying to position itself as a tourist hub in Mayo. No the most to do from a tourist perspective in town, but it did have a cute Country Life museum, with some interactive quizzes, which taught me I would be a bad farmer. Like, it actually gave me my quiz score and said “You would be a bad farmer.” Refreshing honesty, if nothing else. Other highlights involved learning that schoolmasters were actually men in Ireland (Ontario, at least, was women-only in schools until the mid-20th century) and that they were allowed to teach “through terror”, which is a technique I might try at some point if I’m bored. Or not at all. I could also have bought “50 Irish Drinking Songs” or “50 Irish Fighting Songs” from the gift shop, because Ireland. Nice pond near it, too, and the Thurlough House, which was nice.
After the museum, we drove through the downtown, which was cute, and down to Lake Lannagh, which had some nice walking trails and green spaces. Good for an afternoon stroll with some half decent weather – only windy and cloudy at times.
After that, we headed back to Kev and Kathy’s house and, though the plan was to go to a local pub for a pint, we were all tired, so we ordered pizza, bought beer, and I was introduced to 15 to 1, a British quiz show, and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, a wordplay/mathplay show where comedians compete against each other to spell words with given letters, get to certain answers in math, all while having fun. No real point to it other than entertain.
Great to see Kathy and Kev again, have them open up their house and to see their town, too! Good to get off the “tourist track” sometimes.