Croke Park, Whiskey, Gaelic Football and the Purty Loft

You know those weekends that leave you so utterly shattered that you might as well crawl under a duvet and watch TV for the rest of the week, because anything else you try to do is going to turn out to be shockingly awful? I just had one of them. It was great… at the time! It has left me with a heavy working week and an almost sedentary outlook, but definitely worth it.

A couple of weeks back my best friend, Dickon, sent me one of those speculative FaceBook messages about coming over to Dublin. I must admit, with only a few weeks to go until I head off to India, my initial reaction was that it probably wouldn’t happen. Fair play to him though, a dozen or so days later he was over to help me make the most of one of my last weekends here.

When we met up on Friday, I was still struggling with the whole ‘relaxing for the weekend’ thing. Since working largely freelance, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to ever stop working. Time is money, as they say, and without time being a pre-defined concept, the temptation to just keep going is both stress inducing and slightly compulsive. Anyway, having caught up in front of some Family Guy, Dickon and I headed for the Jameson Distillery for some samples. The distillery has the added benefit of being only 50 metres from my apartment, and though the tour guide was not as good this time round, we still had a few tasters (not so many for me, as I had an evening class) and learnt exactly what it is that makes the stuff so expensive.

For the evening we headed down to South Dublin to see Belfast band ‘And So I Watch You From Afar’ play a fantastic set in the Purty Loft. I’ve raved about these guys far too much already; I think it suffices to say that if you like rock and haven’t already gone out and bought the album, do it now. Epic.

Saturday was a prime example of me being a prize idiot. The walk to Croke Park was overshadowed more than a little by arriving and finding that there wasn’t actually a game on, and in fact almost literally no people to be found, because Gaelic football games are always on a Sunday. Instead, we decided to spend an entire day watching football. There can’t be many better ways to catch up with an old friend! The football results weren’t quite so much fun, but they rarely are these days. As we started drinking at about 1pm, and finished at 3am, supping on Buckfast (or hangover juice, as it should probably be known), it ended up being quite a nasty one.

Which left the Gaelic football for Sunday. Croke Park is an odd stadium: huge, and fairly modern around three sides, and then the fourth side (Hill 16) looks like it hasn’t been renovated since the notorious shootings happened there. Maybe that’s the point. Initially I thought Gaelic football was a fairly ridiculous game, but it has grown on me a lot; I’ll quite happily sit in front of the TV and watch a full match now. I even understand most of the rules, though any rule relating to tackling is completely lost on me. As far as I can work out, that applies to most of the games biggest fans, too.

This was a double-bill Allianz League final, between the first and second place teams in the top two divisions. Apparently these games are not particularly important, though I’m a little confused over why they even have a league, if the final’s not important. Anyway, the first game was Cork vs. Monahan, which was a bit of a non-event, as Cork never looked like losing. The second game – between Kerry and Derry – was far better. Reigning champions Derry often looked the stronger team, but were eventually turned over by ‘Kingdom’ (as Kerry fans like to call their team… ) . All in all, a very fun afternoon, assuming you ignore the hangovers of course. Thanks for coming, Dickon, effort very much appreciated!

After all that I’m left with just 18 days until India, only 15 of them in Ireland. Time to get some energy and get packing, I’m thinking!

Love to you all,

James x

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