By Josh Carmody
Well, it goes a little something like this. My cousin Shawn and I were talking about Ireland and our family history one night and how cool it would be to go there. At that moment it popped into my head.
I have a friend who lives there!!!!
So we decided right there and then to make a pact that we would go. Of course it took awhile as everything does in the Carmody family. Letís just say thereís something in the genes besides good looks and a charming nature. We planned and planned for awhile until we finally bought our plane tickets. Both of us were pumped up. Two weeks until we go; all I have to do is get my passport. Well the day I got my passport was a Friday and I told Shawn that I would come up that night to the cabin to hang out and do some more planning. I arrived there late in the evening and we jammed for a while. Shawn bought a video camera so we had fun making our own silly little movies. The next day we woke up and decided to take a walk in the woods and play with the video camera a little more. So we made our own "Blair Witch Project" and comedy acts. We had so much fun that Saturday. It was nighttime now and we played guitar and watched movies. The next day I woke up and gathered my stuff to leave and as I was doing that Shawn piped up and said,
"Let me see your passport!!!"
And I said, "Yeah, hold on, itís rightÖÖ.. uuuhhh itís right ÖÖ. Ohhh no, where is it?"
In all reality it was more like "SHIT!!!! Where is it?"
Shawn and I flipped that cabin upside down and searched the woods Ė nothing - I was up s creek as my dad would say. He never really said a swear; it would always be the first letter of the swear but you would know what he was trying to say. Where was I, oh yeah up s creek. This wasnít a shocker though I spent most of my life standing in s creek. So as a Carmody I said Iíll get another one. You may think that it would be easy ( I need another passport ). NOPE !!!! think again. I couldnít get another one at the place I got it last time since I lost it. By the way, the country frowns upon people who loose their passport. I had to take a day off from work and drive into Boston. Well after many hours and signing my name in places and making an oath of course, I had my toes crossed as every Carmody would do. I GOT MY PASSPORT BACK.
By the way, in the midst of all of this Shawn and I decided to backpack Ireland!!
And his friend Keith was going to joinus a day after we got there.
The night before, I packed my trusty backpack that I have been lugging around for a long time now. I weighed it in at about fifty-five pounds and as everyone knows add that times two and 30 lbs and thatís how much I weigh. The next day Shawn came over and we were all set to go. I lifted his backpack and well lets just say I tried to lift it, and said something of the sort like Ďwho are you smuggling iní. His backpack weighed about 75 lbs. I shrugged and in my head I said (Marines) and shook my head. It didnít really occur to me at the time what I was getting into. Another thing I didnít mention is his friend Keith was a Marine also. And again, if you know me, I am nothing compared to a Marine. Although I do feel invincible every now and then.
Well itís an hour before our flight and Shawn and I decided to get a drink. One drink led to two, two drinks led to four, four drinks led to our flight being announced over the loud speaker,
"LAST CALL FOR FLIGHT BLAHH BLAHH BLAH".
Shawn and I looked at each other and started what I would call a sprint; other people would say "did you feel that breeze". Shawn and I just made it and laughed as we boarded. We sat down in our seats and next to me an empty seat. We started to think of who was going to be sitting next to us on the flight.
"Hmm" Shawn said "maybe that girl at the bar, some hot chick I hope"
We laughed and waited. All of the sudden this dude sat down next to me and introduced himself. Right away I noticed this guy had the worst teeth I have ever seen. Two seconds later I smelled the worst BO I have ever smelled in my life.I mean, I have smelled my dad after his running a double marathon. It was roses compared to this guy. Right then and there I knew it was going to be a long trip there. I did everything I could to bargain with Shawn to get the window seat but he didnít budge. So I kept tipping the stewardess and getting drink after drink after drink, thinking that they might dull my senses. And in the Carmody family BEER is a cure all. Finally, we reached Ireland tired and drunk, but we made it there.
I just wanted to add a little twist for all of you - ITíS ST.PATRICKS DAY!!!
And we donít really have a game plan. So we went to pick up our backpacks at the baggage claim. Shawn grabbed his and IÖ
"Wait, where is my backpack?"
Yup, as you all can guess, mine wasnít there. It was on another flight. Luckily, it was on its way to Ireland, but it would be a couple of hours until it would arrive. So we hung around a bit, got something to eat, called family, and sobered up. Finally, I got my backpack.
We decided to go to Dublin, check out the parade, and find a Bed and Breakfast. The parade was really cool. Nothing I have ever witnessed before. People were hanging out of their windows, tons of people in the streets singing, all kinds of homemade floats, and costumes. It was a blast. We started to get a little tired having been up for 24 hours and all. So we decided to look for a place to crash. We walked the streets for hours. It came to a point where I was getting delirious and saying,
"Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament." For all of you who donít know, thatís a quote from National Lampoonís European Vacation. We found out from this nice lady that if we go to the Board of Tourism theyíll find a place for us. The kicker was they close at 6:00. It was approximately 5:00 and it was miles away. Needless to say, we got there in time. I spoke to a woman at the counter and said I need a place to stay for the night. She laughed at me like it was a joke. I think she stopped laughing when I wasnít and giving her the look of hell. Yes, I do have a look like that and it takes a lot for me to express it. She said,
"Hold on, ahhh yes, I found a place. Its in Drahada."
I said, "Sweet" and gave Shawn the thumbs up.
I said, "Where is that?"
"About 45 minutes away."
I said, "Walk?"
She said, "Train.
I consulted with Shawn and we said what the heck, we were tired and just wanted to rest anywhere. She also said the lady who owns the Bed and Breakfast would pick us up at the train station. WOW, what service I thought. Karma started to go our way. As we were sitting on the train, I stared out of the window, watching the water from the eastern shores of Ireland roll in. It almost felt like home for a minute. If some of you donít know, I grew up in Lynn and Salem Massachusetts next to the ocean. So it was comforting to see water. Then again, how would I not see water? I am on an island. "DUHH". Anyways, thatís just a little something I remembered.
Where were we? "AAHH YES". We arrived in Drahada about 45 minutes later. We called the innkeeper and she picked us up. The lady seemed very nice, probably in her late 50ís. We threw our stuff in the back and got in. She took off at about 90 miles per hour - no lie. My stomach dropped about 20 feet. Shawn and I gave a chuckle as we put on our seatbelts.
As we were driving she was blasting this rap music. I donít recall what song it was but letís just say it was not censored. We started to chat and talk about what we were doing and where we were from. So she suggested some sights for us to see the next day after we picked up Keith. She also mentioned a house where the roof was ATTACHED.
Shawn and I looked at each other.
I was thinking to myself all roofs are attached.
"No, no." she said trying to spit it out, "thatched, a thatched roof".
Her southern Ireland brogue was so thick I could barely understand it. Shawn and I for some reason still get a kick out of that. We arrived at the B&B. Shawn and I grabbed our bags and went to our room. As the innkeeper walked away she turned around and said,
"If youíre up for it, we are going out later."
Shawn and I said, "Yahh that sounds good!"
About three hours later she woke us up. She introduced her boyfriend to us, and we all hopped into the car.
The lady said,"You guys are going to have a lot of " CRACK" tonight.
Shawn and I again were in awe
"CRACK" I said chuckling!!
Yes crack, she said, you know fun. Evidently crack means fun in Ireland. I explained to her that it meant something totally different in my country, and she had a laugh. We pulled up at this cool looking bar and walked on in. As we walked up to the bar, the innkeeperís boyfriend already beat us to the punch. He already had four Guinessí waiting for us.
He said, "On me palls", and handed us those nice frosty ones. This was the first sip of Guiness in Ireland.
Well, it tastes the same, I thought.
Everyone says the Guiness tastes differently in Ireland; they say itís better.
Well I just want to clear this up once and for all.
"IT TASTES THE SAME"!
The only thing I found different about it was that I was in Ireland. Well, we sat there for a while drinking round after round. Shawn looked at me and said,
"WOW, these old people sure can party!"
I said, "Yahh, no kidding."
As we were saying that, a band showed up. The lady looked at me and said,
"I hope you guys know how to dance."
Shawn and I were probably thinking 8 Guinessí into it, what the hey! We danced with those old people all night and Iíll be the first to say those old people still have it in them. We had a blast that night and drank so much Guiness that I felt like yeast and hops. Shawn and I volunteered to walk home. We were drunk and wanted to get some fresh air and explore a little. The inn wasnít that far away. The innkeeper and her boyfriend took a cab and wished us a goodnight. We had a good walk and eventually found our way back. I think the minute we saw the beds we just CRASHED. The next morning when I woke up, I was so hung over that I thought I was going to vomit. Evidently the walk the night before didnít do me any good. I got up out of bed and woke Shawn up.
"Can you smell that?" I said.
"MMMMM", Shawn said, "That smells good."
There were all kinds of aromas coming from the hallway. As we stumbled our way down the hall, the innkeeper greeted us and told us to sit down and help ourselves to some cereal. So I figured that if this was it then I better stock up. I poured myself the biggest bowl that you could imagine. Come to find out later on that was just the first course. The lady came out, cleared our plates, and brought out what looked to be like breakfast. Everything looked a little different. There was some kind of potato thing and some kind of black thing. For those people who donít know me, I am very picky with food, but I didnít want to insult anyone. So I ate some of it. Well about an hour later I had the worst stomach ache ever. On top of that, when the lady cleared our plates, she noticed I had more food on my plate than Shawn. Actually I think Shawn licked his plate clean.
Anyways, she said, "Thatís all for you ayyy ?"
I said yup.
She said, "What, you didnít like it ?"
I said, "No, I just ate too much cereal."
This went on for a while. Also, I think I heard them talking about me in the kitchen as I walked by. It went something like this.
"What, he didnít like it?"
"No, he said he had already eaten too much."
"No, he didnít like it."
I said to myself, there goes my not wanting to insult anyone.
Shawn and I went back to the room to grab our stuff. We jumped on a train to meet Keith at the airport. He arrived on time, but of course, his bags didnít and we waited around for ever to get them. We decided to go back to Drahada and stay local since Keith was a little tired from the flight. We also decided to go and check out the sights in Drahada, and this is where its gets weird, so try and follow me here.
We were told that the 7th wonder of the world was right here in the small town of Drahada. By the way, everything is the 7th wonder of the world in Ireland. It was the preserved head of Saint Oliver Plunket. Now, tell me if Iím wrong but have you ever heard of Saint Oliver, and if so, do you know that his head is preserved in a glass case and displayed for everyone to see. People also pray to it. Itís a very strange thing if you ask me. The only thing I could think of when I was looking at the head was, man that must really stink getting your head chopped off. Evidently they chopped him up in pieces and scattered him all over Ireland. The only reason why his headís preserved is that they threw his head in a swamp. There was a chemical in the swamp that actually kept his head, skin, teeth intact. A miracle? I really donít think so, but an interesting sight to see anyway. That is if youíre hanging out in Drahada.
After that I think, we headed to Dublin. We did the whole pub crawl thing. We ended up, for some reason, following a bunch of people playing drums. We walked down all kinds of streets and after about a half hour of this, looking around me, there were people everywhere. It was pretty cool. I felt like I was in some kind of drum cult. After that, we hit a few more bars. It was getting kinda late and we were all tired. So we decided to go back to the B&B. It was a long walk back to the train station. When we arrived there, we found out that we had missed the last train north. We ended up taking a cab home. 1 million pounds later, we were back at the B&B.
The next day we said our goodbyes to the innkeeper and her husband, and exchanged emails. Off we went.
We decided that we were going to go to Galway and hike our way south to Limerick - all good in theory. We arrived in Galway and started hiking. We followed along these railroad tracks that ran parallel to a main road. By night fall, we decided to get off the tracks. We saw a field and figured out that if we crossed it, that it would lead to the road. The only thing that was blocking us was a fence. So, since weíre Carmodys and no obstacles can keep us from doing anything, we hopped over it. As we were walking in the middle of this field we saw a huge compound with guards all around. Come to find out we stumbled onto a military installation. Luckily we werenít shot. We made it to the other side safe, and had a little chuckle.
We finally decided to look for a place to camp for the night. I was tired and realized that my backpack was too heavy for this type of hike. We found a dark road. All around us was farm land. We found a place where there were a few trees to hide under, over this old wooden fence. We tossed our bags over and started to set everything up. Now Iím with two marines, mind you, who are being so slick and quiet about everything. Here I am, city boy, making all kinds of sounds. Well, I decided to light up a cigarette to celebrate the day. Shawn and Keith had a chuckle. They said something like,
"Dude what the hell are you doing? Do you want to get us caught? Youíre the one whoís gonna get us shot for trespassing."
As a good guy, I put out the cigarette. Later that night, I woke up to this strange sound. And to my surprise it was a cow, standing right over me. This animal was belting out this god-awful sound. The only way I could describe it is a sick cow on steroids. I never to this day heard a cow that moood like this one.
Thatís what it sounded like.
The next day, we woke up and started the hike. About an hour later we had breakfast and took another look at our map to make sure we were going in the right direction. Later on that day, we started to walk up this huge hill, or so it seemed at the time. It ended up being a mountain. There was no indication on the map that we had that we were about to hike up a mountain. I came to the conclusion that we got this map from an Irish K Mart. You already know the whole Carmody thing about obstacles. Nothing can stop us, unless youíre me and youíve just walked up hill for four hours with a 55 pound backpack, keeping up with two marines. There I said it all in one breath. At the mid point of this mountain, I started to develop blisters on my feet and close to the top of the mountain, they popped. You may think thatís no problem, just a couple of blisters.
I couldnít walk anymore! The blisters were on the bottom of my feet. It felt like I was walking on hatchet wounds. At about that point I saw three huge dogs on the dark road in the middle of nowhere. I couldnít run, so I stood my ground and kept walking towards them, trying not to pee my pants. They circled around me and started to bark very loud. Shawn and Keith were further back than I was for some reason. So I was on my own with these flea infested mongrels. Shawn will probably try to tell everybody that they were Chiwawas. I kept walking while surrounded by these dogs - praying. Out of nowhere, lights come on in a yard with a ratty old looking trailer. I heard a manís voice and all of the sudden the dogs pulled away. "PHEW" I sighed. That was a close one. The man asked us if we were ok, and, by that time, Shawn and Keith showed up. We told him our whole plan, and he wished us luck. I really wanted to ask him for a ride to the nearest hotel, but I didnít. At this point too, I had already unloaded on the mountain my tent poles and anything that had weight to it. But I donít think it really helped. Now because I could barely walk, someone had to carry my backpack for me. This was actually quite amusing because Shawn and Keith were fighting over who was going to be the bigger guy and carry the most weight. I couldnít believe it. This was the first time in hours that I actually cracked a smile and chuckled under my breath. I donít think I ever witnessed this silly type of testosterone before in my life. So there he is Shawn with my backpack on top of his. He already had a 75lb pack on. Add mine to that and you get a grand total of 125 pounds, give or take a few. What a cousin I thought, I donít think any of my friends would even try to attempt something like that. So I tip a thousand hats to you Shawn for doing that for me.
We finally reached the top of the mountain and set up camp. I was so relieved that we finally stopped. I couldnít get to sleep right away because my feet were killing me. Shawn and Keith were already sleeping by this time. And thoughts kept running through my head like, I wonder if there are any bears on this mountain, or what if there are coyotes just waiting to pounce on me, and also, between the three of us, we had about a cup of water left. So you can see by these thoughts, I was very uncomfortable. I finally fell asleep. The next day I woke up to rain. You may not think this is a bad thing, but if you didnít set your tent up, and just sleep in your sleeping bag, it kind of stinks. So I quickly remedied the situation by pulling out my tent, and tossed it over me, and fell back asleep.
We woke up and started our way down the mountain. I decided that, at the first town we come to, I would get a cab, and take it to Limerick, and from there I would take a train to Kateís house. Kate is a friend who lives in Northern Ireland. Shawn and Keith would go on without me. After all, they were too pumped and wanted to keep going. I think they were actually sad to give me back my backpack. Shawn and Keith marched on. I took the next train to Clarksville - Monkeys reference. I arrived at Kateís house later on that day. Kateís mom took a look at my feet, I was lucky to find out that sheís a nurse. She took a look at my feet.
I said, "Is it bad?"
She said, "Have seen worse!"
I said, "Ohh thatís good!"
She said, "On missionaries!"
So that didnít make me feel any better. Ohh!! I almost forgot. When I arrived at Kateís house there was this dog on a leash outside. So the first thing I did was walk up and pat it. Well, this was the wrong thing to do because this dog smelled so bad. Kate tried to warn me, but it was too late. She informed me that this was an outside dog and it loves to roll around in its own feces. Letís just say I couldnít get to the sink fast enough to wash my hands. If any of you have seen the movie Top Secret, where the guy blows his nose, gets boogers on his hands, screams and jumps out the window, well, thatís how I felt. That night I relaxed, met her family, and crashed in a nice cozy bed. The next day I woke up, had a nice hardy Irish breakfast. By the way, Kateís mom is a good cook. I actually had a new found passion for Irish food.
"Potato pancakes mmmmmmm".
Shawn called and informed us that he had made it to Limerick with Keith, and that he was on his way here. Keith had to go back home. I think he was on leave or something like that at the time. We picked Shawn up and headed to the house.
This is where the evil in me set in. Shawn gets out of the car and immediately runs over to the dog. I kept my mouth shut. He found out about the dog! I wish I had a camera to capture the look on his face.
Trip to Ireland, 500 dollars. Having a couple of Guinessís, 20 pounds. Playing a joke on your cousin,ÖÖÖÖÖÖ.. priceless!!
Shawn settled in, thatís after he washed his hands. HEE HEE. I still laugh every time I think of that.
After two days rest we decided to go on a tour of Northern Ireland. You canít keep a Carmody down for long!! We walked around Belfast most of the day. I really enjoyed the city as there was a lot to see. We arrived by train that brought us underneath the Europa, "the most bombed hotel in world". You would think if you had a hotel that had been bombed more that three times, theyíd condemn it. Nope, not these people. They might actually be Carmodys. I also found a Dunkin Doughnuts. Maybe thatís why I was kind of fond of the city. In those 4 or 5 days I saw all kinds of old castles, hiked on royal grounds, and saw the Giants Causeway. The Giants Causeway was a really strange rock formation, hexagonal in shape, on the shores of Northern Ireland, and also found directly across the ocean from Scotland. This is the only place on earth that has formations like this. The legend is, this Giant, a long time ago, built a causeway to go between Ireland and Scotland.
"Itís the 7th wonder of the world".
This was one of my favorite sights that I saw. Now, I know what youíre thinking, "I thought it was Saint Oliver Plunketís head that was the 7th wonder of the world." No, it was the Giants Causeway. Others of my favorite sights were Derry and Londonderry. This is where "Bloody Sunday" happened. We walked around the walls of Derry. It was quite interesting. I recommend seeing it if you ever go to Ireland. The murals that the people had painted on the walls were a sight themselves, and if you donít go, I have pictures.
It was time finally to go home. Shawn and I said our good byes.
After all that had happened to me on this trip, by far it was one of the best times I had ever had in my life. I am so glad to get this out and share it with my family.
Thanks, Shawn, for motivating me.
Ohh, by the way, when I came home, I took a shower and found the only clean pair of pants I had. Guess what was in the back pocket?