In Iowa City, it is pretty impressive when you go out 5 days in a row. In Cork City, not so much. Monday through Friday of this fine week I found myself at a pub. Most of the time ending with An Brog AKA Summit (pictured above). Monday was by far the most relaxed night but I was educated in Irish swear words. Basically learning that no word is that serious in Ireland. Even “twat”, a rather offensive one in the states, is a word mothers say to their children. It implies idiot here in honestly the lightest sense. You even hear the forbidden “c” word thrown about by the Irish men whenever a sporting event is on the tele.One guy explained it that “It has basically become impossible to insult an Irish man”.
The group of Americans + 1 Aussie I have bonded with here have begun a sort of ‘family dinner’ tradition. The idea is one person cooks/ spends money on that while the others all bring a bottle of wine or something with to share. As the dinner rotates around the group, money evens out. This week I attended my second family dinner and spilled wine for the 2nd time. The first time was on Chenae’s brand new mac book. Thank god our reflexes were quick and we saved it from the RED wine. This time I joked about spilling and then spilled my white wine on the floor. Not as much of a party foul but sad to see Ireland did not rid me of my clumsiness.
After the family dinner, the night began at this pub called Washington Inn. Upon arrival we met these two lads from Cork. Both were ~24 and conversation started pretty easily. There was like this weird natural switch-a-roo that happened every 10 minutes. First Aussie and red-head guy would talk while I and brunette did, then a switch would happen. About 2 hours into the convo I pointed it out and everyone was a little freaked by how right I was. Well, us four had grand conversations about Australia, America, Northern Ireland (never going to bring that up to Irish guy again), pubs, Cork, etc etc. One of the best was me asking why they said ‘tree’ for three if they clearly could say three. It sounds like a rude question in retrospect but I put it nicely.. no worries. Both the Irish boys agreed that tree (the plant) and tree (the number) sounded exactly the same but one came out with a beautiful response <in a perfect American accent and speaking very slowly> he replied “Well-why-do-Americans-say-everything-phonetically-huh?” I died of laughter. As the conversations progressed, the boys mentioned there was a hurling game on TV Sunday and we should join them to watch/ maybe even play hurling after wards to try it out. Chenae and I were genuinely interested. Later on, us four and our family dinner crew went to… of course.. An Brog. Note we had to do much convincing of the Irish boys who claimed to not like the “dirty Brog” and we came to find out that An Brog = The Shoe in Irish. So fitting lol. At some point I went off to say hi to some others in Brog I recognized and when I returned to the Irish boys two new American gals were chatting with them. Both were very nice, cute girls and at first I thought nothing of it. I started a solo convo with one of the American girls and.. get this.. she whispers in my ear “Yea we met these two here the other night and watched a hurling game with them earlier today. They even taught us how to play afterwards!”. Wow. Not only did the two Irish guys obviously go to the Brog even though they pretended to hate it but they clearly used the same pick-up tactic of hurling on other American girls just a few nights before. Ugh did I feel stupid. I told Chenae what happened and, after a quick stop to McDs, we went back to my place to contemplate the facts of the night. I must say Chenae did not have much to say but this should be said in light of the fact that I gave her a hoodie to sleep in and she put it on like a pair of pants. She was feeling good :) Okay, I am going to apologize now to all women-empowerment readers who want to read a story of how I stuck it to the man and called the guys out on what happened/ never talked to them again. Well, one of the boys already had my number and texted me later on. I did give the guy shit for bringing two American girls to the same exact thing he asked us to do (though he claims this was just a coincidence) and do poke fun at it often. However, I kind of decided that I’m in Ireland and despite this little screw up on their part they were cool guys whom we did have hilarious conversation with up until the point of the ‘reveal’. Needless, we probably still will go watch hurling with them tomorrow. Plus, I am friends with the one on Facebook which means he definitely could read this post. (Sorry James! No hard feelings right??)
Wednesday consisted of my second pub crawl where I learned a very interesting Irish term that is NOT used the same way in America. At one point I was talking to this Irish lad named Jer (I had to have him spell his name because I seriously thought he was just grunting when he first introduced himself). He had a tongue ring, and I said to him “I am surprised how many young people here I have met with tongue rings. Its not as popular in America” He then asked “Well have you ever met anyone with a tongue ring?” Me - “Uh yea. I just told you, I met like 5 or 6 people with one”. Jer - <eyes open wide> —awkward silence— then laughter “I forgot about that not being an American thing. No. To meet someone or to have met someone her means to like kiss with tongue”. So, I basically just told him I was a slut without even knowing it. In case that was confusing, met/ meet in Ireland means making out. They don’t say making out. You can also say ‘shifting’. I asked how do I know if a guy just wants to introduce me to his friend or wants me to kiss his friend. His and the other Irish folk that were now tuned in replied “Uh. I dunno. You just do.” Great. Also, you do not “get a ride home” that is something very dirty (I am sure you can figure that one out all on your own). You always say “get a lift home”. My American friend got a lift from an Irish gal and upon arrival at her house said “Thanks for the ride!” which caused an uproar of laughter in the car.
Thursday and Friday I went on a field trip with my class to the Irish National Museum in Dublin, Christ Church built by the Vikings-ish in the 10th century, high crosses (AMAZING), Newgrange (in the picture above), and Tara castle where Braveheart the movie was filmed. Newgrange is a tomb from 2200 BC!! The stones around the building were collected from up to 50 miles away and the big ones at the bottom weigh at least 10 tons. It was built in about 60 years which was twice the life expectancy at the time which implies it was built over multiple generations. It is not a typical tomb but one were bodies were brought at first and then later on placed into surrounding satellite tombs. Newgrange is the second largest of three large passage tombs in the Bend of Boyne area of Ireland. On December 21st (the winter solstice) the Newgrange’s tomb is PERFECTLY illuminated all the way through for about 20 minutes. That takes some serious planning and insight. I know it looks too perfect to be that old but about 20 years ago engineers took the location of the fallen rocks and calculated (based on distance from the main tomb and other engineering things) where the original stone would have been. They then re-placed the original stones into the main structure to make it look like this. The stones have not been re-polished or painted in any way. We got a tour inside but no pictures could be taken. This tour would have been perfect had our tour guide not acted like she was in a Broadway musical. Everything she said was dramatic with a pause and lip lick between each sentence (hands folded of course). I wanted to punch her. She seemed very knowledgable but it took so much away from everything with her low tones and awkward pauses. “For me -pause- the cieling of this tomb -pause and lower tone- is the most amazing part” Trust me, everyone noticed.
All the places I mentioned my class visited were fascinating with detailed artwork/ jewelery out of this world and just how old/ real everything was blew me away but I won’t bore you with too much detail of them all. I do want to say a bit about the castle of Tara because it again just amazed me. It was built in the 12th century and the cleverness of it blew me away. The doors, stairs, windows, etc were designed perfectly to defend against enemies. They even placed the chamber were the human feces went below the important people’s bedrooms with vents from the chamber to their closest so that the odors killed any ticks or parasites on their clothes (remember these people showered maybe twice a year). They made the chimney shoot go up in a spiral so smoke could get out but when it rained the water would have to trickle down the spiral and hence would likely evaporate before it was able to put out the fire. Each of the wooden guard towers around the castle could easily be removed if set on fire. Crazy stuff. Here I learned where the phrase “Giving someone the cold shoulder” came from. If the King of the castle wanted a guest to leave he would not ask him to but would give him the shoulder AKA the worst part of the pig/ cow that was being eating at that night’s feast. He would often have the chef leave the shoulder cold to emphasize the want for them to leave. HENCE cold shoulder :) Our tour guide was some well known archaeologists which was really cool and it was nice having a super knowledge person talk about the place we were in.
One night our class stayed at an adorable hostel and went to a pub (entry to the pub was paid by my uni lol) to listen to this AWESOME live band. Our professor made the disclaimer before going in that “Thought it doesn’t HAVE to be alcoholic, it is rude to go to a pub and get nothing to drink. So order something!” Love him. The band was this long bearded big Australian guy and this cute little Irish blonde. He played guitar while she played the drums, flute, whistle, or washboard. They were just so in sync, she was an amazing singer, and so obviously in love (they were married). It was so fun. At dinner earlier my Aussie friend had used the word ‘undies’ (apparently that is very normal there) and it became the runny joke for the night between the four of us in the class that have gotten really close. Perfect night. In the morning, the hostel owner brought us duck eggs with feathers still on them. Guess who was one of only two who tried them? Me! When in Rome right?
Sorry this post is so long BUT almost done. On Friday after the field trip some UCC students organized a night for the new Americans to mix and mingle with them. It was a small group but I was happy to meet Irish students finally (they don’t arrive for another two weeks or so). One of the Irish boys heard I was from Iowa and used this pick up line on me: “I like corn”. SERIOUSLY ?!? Luckily my mom and dad recently/ randomly included a can of corn in a care package they sent me. So, I was able to make a joke out of his awkward line. Some the Irish students started to warn us about muggins in Cork and that we should never walk alone at night. They pretty much made Cork seem like Detroit. So, I went home and my now-scared self looked up crime rates: Iowa City has a crime rate of 4 per 1000 residents, New Lenox 12 per 1000, Cork 20 per 1000, Chicago 57 per 1000, and Detroit 76 per 1000. So, I am less safe than in IC but basically this pretty big city is as bad as New Lenox. My nerves have greatly decreased. I guess there are just these guys called ‘knackers’ that will ask you a question like “Can I have a smoke” or “Where is a good pub near by” in order for you to get close to them and then they mug you. It has happened to one American student who was alone since being here when he was asked for a cigarette. When he reached in his pants to get them and looked down, the guy pulled a knife on him and took all his credit cards. Hence, I stopped bring cards out (just quid AKA money) but as long as I am smart I will be fine. I will be living with UCC students and they are not here yet like I mentioned, so I have had to rotate convincing people to walk me home. Luckily, everyone here is really nice and willing to do so. Even the Irish boy from the story earlier will text me at night to see if I need someone to walk me home because he knows my ‘dangerous’ living situation. However, MOTHER, there is nothing serious to be worry about. Police here don’t even carry guns. I think Irish students exaggerated a little bit to get the point across that us Americans needed to be smart. That is it for this week. Love you all.