Ireland Showing More Beauty During Flannery Pub Mission


Limerick had treated me well, I visited six Flannery pubs in total where I met long-lost cousins and drank my weight in Guinness and whiskey as well as added to the weight of my pack with Flannery shirts, glasses, coasters and more.

I was happy. Now I was walking out of the city, continuing my sort of clockwise journey around Ireland.

My next step was a farm in the countryside, I'd found a couchsurfing host out there and thought it'd be a nice little pause before heading to Galway and beyond.

I hitched just two rides to get there, walking down some country roads until I reached a house with some cows where I waited a while until Tomas came walking on down the path, my host. What ensued was a couple days and nights of drunkeness and philosophical conversation, even a salvia trip thrown in the mix.

Tomas had guests here and there, either couchsurfers or people volunteering on the small farm. We sipped his homemade nettle wine and discussed this and that. The second day I was there we hopped on his little boat and buzzed through the water ways to a small island and the far shore for a pint of beer. That night we smoked salvia and drank more vodka and nettle wine which launched us into a chaotic shouting jam session with myself on the drums and him whaling away the intricacies of his being into the night.

By the second morning there we realized we'd probably drive ourselves to madness if we went any further, it was time for me to meander on back down the dirt roads and get back to my Flannery pub hopping and Irish exploring. We'd meet again in Dublin weeks later.

Before I left I got a phone call from a reporter at the Irish Independent asking me a series of questions for the interview they were going to publish, this seemed to ease me back into the rest of the world again.

I hitched a short ride first, but my second ride came from a guy who went out of his way to take me directly to the Cliffs of Moher, a scenic pause on my way to Galway. They were indeed amazing, towering cliffs above the ocean that I walked along all the way to a small town of Doolin where it had begun to rain.

It rained often in Ireland, but often in a light and passing manageable kinda way, but this late afternoon's rain would persist well into the evening. I paused for coffee, first, waiting for it to pass. When I realized it wouldn't I got to walking and trying to hitch a ride, I finally did hitch a short ride from an Australian couple to the next town and planted myself at a pub in front of a Guinness pint, again waiting for a break in the rain that wouldn't come.

I don't like to do it, but with few other options I walked the short way to the nearby hostel and got myself a dry bed for the night, meeting the obligatory Germans and the rest of the cast from every generic hostel experience ever written.

The dry morning came and I happily walked my way out of town, hitching my first ride from a guy who told me about his days jumping horses. Once dropped off I paused in a grocery store for the makings of a sandwich, enjoying the peaceful green countryside for a spell.

Who should pick me up next, but the German characters from the hostel, on their way to Dublin. We didn't ride together long, but my next ride came from a couple heading to Galway and they dropped me off directly where I needed to be, the Flannery Hotel bar in Galway.

Of all the Flannery bars I visited in the country this was among the underwhelming, some signs even suggested I was probably breaking some rule or policy by being in the bar at all without being a guest of the hotel. There were no signs of any actual Flannery decedents and the bartender didn't seem so interested. Guinness makes everything tolerable, however, so I sipped mine down before leaving on foot towards the action in Galway's center.

I'd arranged some couchsurfing hosts by this point, but I had some time before meeting them so found myself a craft beer bar where I sipped Ireland's latest brews and made fast friends with a Canadian couple and others in the bar. One girl even came along with me when I left, intrigued by the concept of Coucurfing and curious about meeting  my hosts as well.

I met them at the bar along with their friends, it was a good Irish night of much laughing and drinking, first at the pub and later at their house going long into the night.

It was a late and slow day the next day, running back and forth and a bit of exploration of pubs that night, but sleep came much earlier than the night before.

My goal for the next day was to hitch into he center of the country to visit the Flannery bar in Athlone before hitching back west to continue my clockwise route. I hitched just two rides to get there to Athlone, but the bar hadn't opened yet. There were no hours on the door, I first grabbed a coffee and came back, still closed, I then sent to Sean's bar, known to be the oldest bar in Europe. I got a beer there then walked back to Flannery's, but it was still shut.

At that point I went to a nearby shop to ask the owner there and learned that Flannery's was closed just one day a week and today was that day.

I walked out of town a bit disappointed, but I'd be back and it would prove to work out much better this way.

Off to the next Flannery bar. I hitched one long ride back o Galway and from there two more rides to the town of Balinrobe where there was a "Flannery Bistro". This, like the Flannery Hotel in Galway, also proved to be a bit disapointing. A Flannery had indeed owned the place, but sold it a couple years ago, now it was nothing more than a bistro, which isn't a word I even feel comfortable typing.

I walked for a while and got a ride by sunset by a guy heading nearly to Westport. As we got close he showed me a big shed on a property he said belonged to his friend, saying that I could get away with camping underneath for the night. I took him up on the offer and laid down there for the night.

I hitched a ride into town in the morning and got some bread and other supplies, my next move was to get to the top of a little mountain peak called Croagh Patrick. I tried to hitch a ride to it, but ended up walking the entire nearly 10 kilometers without getting a ride, then just marched straight to the top for the rewarding view from the peak.

I sat eating a makeshift sandwich taking in the view of the greenery and blue waters below, then made my way back down to the road. A beautiful girl with her dog drove me back to town, I was happy I didn't have to walk the whole way back as well. From town I got a ride from a guy named Colin to the next town. He told me about his nearby farm and the constant stream of international volunteers that would come and help out, at the moment he said he had a few Germans there with him and his wife.

I kept my hitching going, I wanted to get on to Achill Island and see what beauty it had in store. An electrician gave me my next ride a short ways, when I told him I was heading to Achill island he launched into nostalgic stories of being younger and enjoying the influx of girls that would arrive every summer to Achill, apparently it was the place to be in the height of the season.

I kept walking until another car pulled over at the sight of my thumb in the air, I ran up to it and hopped in the backseat. A woman was driving along with a German guy and two other German girls happily smiling, talking about volunteering on her farm...

"I think I met your husband earlier", I remarked, "Is his name Colin?"

Indeed I had met his crew, his wife Ali was taking them all out to the island for a day of good times and recreation. Before I knew it I was part of the adventure, they invited me to lunch and then the rest of the day as well, checking out the beaches, bays and peaks the island had to offer.

After all this Ali offered me a bed in the trailer the girls were staying in, everyone was all smiles and a I gladly accepted. We arrived at the house where Colin was by himself.

"Remember me?", I smiled. We all laughed and the girls got to making us all a pizza dinner. It was a pretty good night of all of us chatting and playing games hanging out, I even got to do a load of laundry and get a shower in before getting a good night's sleep.

After breakfast and some more talking I finally headed back to the road in the light rain, happy to have met the friendly couple on the nice little farm. I walked along feeling good, my next destination was Donegal, which was perhaps the most beautiful place in all of Ireland and had plenty of surprises in store. Thumb in the air and feet moving as always, let the adventures continue.

May 28, 2015 to June 4, 2015

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