If I was an Irish lad or lass,
I’d think today was a blast.
Ophelia was a gift
No working on my shift.
I’m no fool.
There’s no school or car pool
No busses or planes.
Too windy to ride,
I’m taking this in stride.
Must stay at home,
For safety’s concern…
Too unsafe to go out
And walk about.
Except to the pub
For some grub,
Ophelia’s winds are harsh
And will blow you right into the marsh,
So don’t walk or ride,
Just kinda slide,
Holding onto whatever you can
Or find yourself a stout man.
On the way to the pub
For that lovely pub grub.
And to discuss why you have to stay home
Cause it’s too dangerous to roam…
Ok, so my Irish ditty writing could use some improvement, but go easy on me. After all, I did survive a hurricane in Ireland. And, I learned exactly how the Irish handle a weather event like this.
First, they refer to the windy day as being a “fresh day.” Yea, it’s fresh alright, it’ll blow the stink right off of you, along with exfoliate at least the top layer of skin.
I’m sitting back in my hotel room now, listening to the wind batter the side of the building, blowing objects from other buildings into this one. I swear, the rafters are lifting up and down, slamming like the screen door just before my mother yelled at me, “don’t slam the screen.” Too late! Wham, again.
Many places, especially along the coastline, were shuttered with plywood today and noplace, and I do literally mean noplace except for a couple pubs, was open. It’s not like Brian and I didn’t try.
I know I’m part Irish now, because I was determined to make lemonade out of lemons.
You see, that’s what the Irish do. That is pretty much their approach to life. Not just Ophelia.
Ophelia Makes Landfall
This is by far the weirdest hurricane I’ve ever weathered.
While the hurricane was striking, there were bands of rain, which is typical, interspersed with bands of sunshine, which isn’t.
The wind was very warm – also very unusual.
There were no thunderstorms or tornadoes, at least not yet.
But the wind. My God, the wind. It was truly brutal – registering gusts as high as 119 MPH. The worst storm Ireland has seen in 50 years.
Brian and I discovered an elderly man laying on the sidewalk. Brian pulled over, stopped, we got out and tried to help the man by recruiting two other men walking along to try to help him to his feet. The man was in quite a bit of pain, and it became evident that he had badly hurt himself. We gently lowered him back on the sidewalk, as there was no place else to put him, and called the ambulance. Of course we stayed with him and tried to bring him some comfort. The police and firetruck arrived within a minute or so, and about that time a huge gust of wind came along and blew me into a police officer who was standing beside me, nearly knocking us both over.
I apologized profusely. I mean, assaulting a police officer isn’t something I normally do.
Enter the Irish sense of humor.
His partner, who witnessed the event, of course, says, “Brian always has that effect on women.” I was embarrassed. Brian (yes, the third Brian of the day) then very kindly took ahold of my arm so that I wasn’t blown elsewhere with a much less soft landing.
The wind was just that strong.
Jim Cantore strong.
The. Irish. Are. Such. Genuinely. Nice. People.
Let me introduce you to the first Brian, Brian O’Reilly. You can’t get more Irish than that!
I found Brian through a series of referrals before my arrival in Dublin.
He’s a professional tour guide, taxi owner and driver.
In other words, if he’s not working with individuals, or hotels, he fills in the time by doing general taxi work.
He drives a nice mini-van with the driver’s seat on the “wrong side” by American perspective.
The perfect person to make lemonade with.
Unfortunately, many of the things he had planned for me today, we couldn’t do. We had already regrouped once from the countryside to Dublin city, because of the weather. Brian said they never get hurricanes here, so he truly didn’t think this one would strike.
Many people felt the same way initially, but last night the TV was full of doom and gloom, trying to convince people to stay home and be safe. This storm hasn’t deposited a lot of rain, but the winds have been devastating. It’s like straight-line-winds for hours on end.
Trees, branches, roofing materials – all flying around.
So, in essence Ireland shut down and told everyone to stay home. Of course, everyone welcomed “Holiday Ophelia.”
That means that there were only two places people were…home and the pub.
The local pub in Ireland is a public gathering place.
And just because you’re not local doesn’t mean that you’re out of place. They just immediately adopt you and inside of 10 minutes, you’re one of them, exchanging stories like you’ve always been there.
Ok, here’s proof.
This is my new friend, Edna. We had SO MUCH FUN. I drank my first Guinness. Yes, that’s it in the baby glass. I wasn’t at all sure that I liked Guinness, but I do.
She was an experienced, expert Guinness drinker.
The Irish have traditions for everything, and drinking Guinness is no exception.
For women, newbies or “pansys,” (their word, not mine), they add a couple drops of black current to Guinness. It makes the Guinness slightly sweet and more palatable for those who have not yet acquired the taste. Edna, my new friend, asked the bartender to do that for me.
He looked at me deadpan and said, “No. You drink Guinness neat or not at all. It’s against our religion here to sully our Guinness with anything.” He paused for a minute, then looked at me and said, “Well, drink up.” I did, and liked Guinness. It tastes like a slightly smoky beer. He smiled and said, “See, you didn’t need any of that pansy stuff,” turned and walked away, leaving Edna and me in stitches and shrieking peals of laughter.
Yea, I know, all of you who know me are saying to yourself, “I can’t believe this, Roberta, in a bar.” However, pubs are not the same as bars. Pubs are local and safe gathering places, probably originating as fires around which our very ancient ancestors gathered in the evenings to share some fermented something-or-other and revel in tales about the wooly mammoths they had seen that day.
Plus, I had Brian with me, or better put, he had me with him.
Now here’s a shocker. Not all of the pubs were open, which simply made the ones that were more crowded, and more interesting. Somehow ironic that everyone was gathered around the TV, moaning about damage and danger reports and discussing why it was too dangerous for them to go to work. Of course, going to the pub was just fine. Why would you ask? Makes perfectly good sense.
And friendly? You haven’t met friendly until you’ve met the Irish. Let’s put it this way, I got hugged and kissed goodbye (on the check) by Edna’s lover (her word, not mine), Brian, (the second Brian), on the way out the door.
They don’t do the cheek kiss thing as much here as they do on the European mainland, but they obviously have adopted that custom at least partially. Or Brian was getting cheeky with me, one or the other. Pardon the pun.
Ok, enough about the pubs.
Ophelia was scheduled to arrive in Dublin between 1 and 3 today. She was a prompt guest and is obviously staying overnight because she’s still here and the winds have not abated one bit, as of midnight.
Brian is a native Dubliner and we decided, based upon his experience, to visit a beautiful fishing village north of Dublin in the morning, because a fishing village in driving rain isn’t fun – and that’s what we expected in the afternoon.
Howth is on the Bay of Dublin and where the fishing fleet is located. Seafood doesn’t get fresher than at this famous restaurant, literally at the end of the dock. Of course, it was closed.
On the wharf, the warehouses are interspersed with little shops.
I desperately wanted to eat at the Octopussy Seafood Tapas restaurant, but they weren’t open. And weren’t planning to open, given the weather, although they did have to stand outside and discuss it for several minutes.
Another local place that looked like a lot of fun!
I wonder how much this storm cost Ireland.
One place warned visitors that they had only a skeleton crew today.
The Pier West Art Studio was open, albeit boarded up. Perhaps this cupid’s head is a good luck piece. My friend who lives on the Outer Banks in North Carolina has a good luck angel strapped to one of the support stilts of her house. Maybe this is the same kind of protection.
Speaking of art, we saw this beautiful chain saw carving along the way.
The views from Howth were spectacular.
I love seaside villages anyway, but today, with the weather event, Mother Nature was truly putting on a show!
I must admit, I found this warning to be quite humorous, especially since it was cobblestones that laid me low previously.
The red sign tells people that the pier is close today due to weather. Well, duh, you can barely walk and stand upright, but somehow, people managed and walked the pier anyway.
Brian and I kept to the edge away from the water and didn’t walk beyond the sign. Neither of us was interested in pulling the other out.
No fishing boats out today.
As the day wore on, about noon, the sea and sky became more menacing. Brian said he has never seen waves like there were today, although they don’t look bad in this little cove.
Given the wind on the top of the hill where I was standing, I couldn’t get closer to this lighthouse by the sea. By this time, the wind was driving the sand mixed with rain in sheets that felt like sandpaper on your skin. Dublin city was across the bay, if you could have seen that far.
Brian knew all of the good places to stop for photography.
On the way out of town, we drove up into the village of Howth itself and discovered this stunning old church ruin with its cemetery intact.
This is just so Irish. A church ruin, a tiny old cemetery and it’s all tucked quaintly beside modern homes and utilities on a steep hillside just above the sea.
Have I mentioned that all signs here are in Gaelic as well as English? A dual language provision is actually in the Irish constitution, based on the fact that the English had tried to eradicate the “Irish heritage” by eliminating the Gaelic language, not to mention the Catholic religion.
Today, Gaelic is taught in the schools and Brian’s grandchildren attend a school where the children are taught 75% of their studies in Gaelic and 25% in English.
Many Irish buildings are quite ancient by US standards.
Everything in the old country is, well, old. They literally use everything until it can’t be used anymore. At that time, depending on the structure, what it is and where it is, they either tear it down or abandon it. Buildings currently in use are often hundreds of years old.
If these old pub steps could talk…
And these steps, across from the ruined church, literally leading no place. However, at some time they clearly led someplace and I’d love to know that story.
It was time to head back to Dublin. Even though we were only about 10 miles north, it felt extremely rural, like we had crossed a time barrier into an earlier domain.
Back in Dublin, we discovered that all of the Starbucks were closed. Heresy, I tell you. Chocolate shops all closed too. Imagine! What’s a woman to do?
Find a pub, of course. The Irish answer for everything. We did find a nice pub for lunch.
Deviled Lamb Kidney’s anyone?
I’ve already introduced you to Edna, of course. Ahh, our lunch was too short but what a fun experience. In Ireland, everyone speaks to and talks to everyone else. It’s catching. I’m doing in too, but in the US the same behavior would be view as borderline predatory.
Next, we tried to visit various gardens, museums and even the Guinness Brewery, but everything was closed. So we drove to see the sights.
I think Brian told me that this was the Irish Parliament building, but I was fascinated by the gate.
Notice that there are many green leaves on the ground because they are being stripped from the trees by the wind today.
Notice too that right this minute, the sun was out, but the wind was still intense and unrelenting. It was a very, very odd weather day.
Brian says this is the most photographed door in Dublin.
The Irish refer to this as the “Pepper Canister Church,” smack dab in the middle of the street.
Today, no tourists or competition, so opportunities for wonderful photos – and no traffic either, which was rather uncanny. Brian indicated that normally traffic during the week is neck to neck all day long in the city. Did the Rapture come to pass and I got left behind in Ireland with Brian?
I suggested to Brian that perhaps we should find the pot at the end. I mean, after all, we ARE in Ireland.
This rainbow lasted for quite a long time, but then, was gone as quickly as it had appeared. A beautiful end to an exciting day, making lemons out of lemonade!
Ophelia wasn’t an invited guest, and hasn’t left yet, but she assuredly didn’t ruin the day and perhaps made it more memorable. How many other people can reminisce about their Irish hurricane?
Right now, aside from the actual physical danger of the winds blowing you over, like that poor man, and flying debris, the biggest problem is that almost half a million people are without power. Trees blowing over have taken many power lines with them. Furthermore, phone carriers are impaired and TV and internet are spotty, at best. The mast that holds the equipment is snapped in half outside the hotel.
Tomorrow, if possible, Brian and I will visit the coast south of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains. From the sounds of the wind right now, maybe not. Unless it stops, we may have to find a way to make more lemonade!