If there were one adjective to describe Ireland, it wouldn’t be “green” — it would be “wet.”
The Emerald Isle, the land of my bloodline, is a green, damp country. From the moment I landed in Dublin, the sky was grey and full of heavy clouds.
And boy, did it rain. Everyday it rained, and the one day it didn’t rain (inKillarney), it snowed. The two pairs of tennis shoes I’d packed were waterlogged within minutes. It’s a known fact (well, I didn’t know at the time) that Wellies are a quintessential piece of any Irish wardrobe. By that time I’d decided to head over to Penneys, the Irish equivalent of K-Mart, and buy myself a pair of the rubber boots for about €15.
The next morning I set out to Cork, the land of my ancestors. Though not the sole purpose of my trip, my grandfather came to New York City from Skibbereen, a pretty town in southwest County Cork, close to the sea, and just under two hours from city.
Cork City is a smallish, walkable city of under 200,000 people and the second largest in the Republic (Galway is third.) I used it as my homebase for a few days go exploring on day trips. Many places in Ireland are only accessible by bus, but Cork is fully equipped with both a bus and train station. If you know me, you know I love a bus, train, or plane excursion (in fact, sometimes even more so than the actual destination.) My love of train rides was the catalyst for my impulsively buying a ticket and hopping a train to Cobh late one afternoon.
Cobh (pronounced “Cove”) is a village on the coast, just a short distance from Cork City. A colorful town, St. Colman’s, an imposing church sits on the hill above neat lines of houses. As dusk set upon me, I found myself in a hotel restaurant where I ordered a full Irish breakfast. Wasting no time at all, I scarfed down the plate.
Afterwards, what seems like just moments later, I stumbled upon a small bar. Not one to let an opportunity pass to consume a national, if not cliched, beverage, I ordered a night cap: an Irish coffee with Irish whiskey. As I chatted with some of the local men, I admired a curated bulletin board of photos.
The board depicted different eras in the town’s history. Maybe it was sentimentality — or maybe it was the whiskey, but it dawned on me that my own grandfather had boarded his own ship here, New York-bound, decades before, as most Irish did. It left me a bit bit teary-eyed in considering what life was like here in the late 1920s, when my grandfather left Ireland.
The locals were very friendly and eager to chat with me, but it was getting late and I needed to catch my train back to the city soon. But first, I needed to hit the head. Everything was going just according to plan despite there not being one.
Then I got to flush the toilet. That’s where it went downhill fast. I notice that my phone is missing, but quickly locate it…in the toilet bowl. Completely submerged.
Well, isn’t this grand?, I thought. Unlike some travelers who invest in a new SIM card, allowing them to use their phone abroad, mine served as my watch, calculator, alarm clock, and with a WiFi connection general gateway to the world. This was the beginning of 2012, so it was a Blackberry (don’t laugh.) I’d gotten rid of my landline years ago and relied heavily on that phone for work for texts, calls, and e-mails. Now I couldn’t even turn the phone anymore.
After a day it eventually did turn on, but acted up and was never the same. Like my two pairs of musty tennis shoes, my phone was permanently wet…like Ireland.