On my first trip to Ireland in 2012 we landed in Dublin and rented a car to drive throughout the southern half of the country. The first stop after driving through the Wicklow Mountains was an overnight stay in Kilkenny.
After dinner, my travel companions and I walked around near the hotel and hit a few bars and pubs. We ended up at Tynans Bridge House Bar and had a pint. We had gotten up very early that morning for our flight and after a long day driving, so my friends decided to call it a night after one drink. I was still thirsty and had ordered another pint so I decided to stay until I’d finished what I had started and told them I’d be to the hotel as soon as I was done.
The bar began to fill up a bit and once my friends left I had the only open seats left in the joint. Not long after they left, a small group came in for a drink and not finding a place open to sit asked if they could join me. I told them, “Sure. I’m going to finish my pint and get out of here. The table will be all yours.” I have rarely been so completely wrong in my life.
The three of my drinking companions worked for the Irish equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency and were in town for work. We started talking about music, specifically American soul and rock bands from Ireland. Rounds of Guinness were ordered again and again. They were lovely people and I couldn’t pull myself away no matter how tired I was.
After a few hours the musician playing had left. We were enjoying each others company so much (the beer helped) that we didn’t really notice that we were the last ones in the bar and that they had begin to put the chairs up on the table next to us. Finally someone who worked there got our attention and said “Sorry love, you have to go. We are closing”!
It then hit me: I had just won the Super Bowl of Drinking! I closed down a bar in Ireland with the locals! We walked out and said goodbye to each other and I began the short walk back to the hotel. As I walked along I saw a sign that announced the fine in euros (at that time it seemed a bit high) for public intoxication.
I made it back to the hotel and slept a good sleep. The next morning I was really paying for the day before. My friends said they were headed to the castle and asked if I was in for that. I declined for a little more sleep and caught up with them after for a walk to St. Canice’s Cathedral. As we were going inside the lady who was at the door asked if we wanted to climb the tower. Uh, …..yes!
The tower dated from the 9th Century and was next to the church which was already at the top of a hill. My head was pounding and I had really felt like my age was riding on my back back on my way up the hill, but living in America I have little chance to see, let alone climb, any human made structures from before the 17th century so I had to try. I stood at the entrance to the tower a little woozy but began the climb.
It was a long climb up in tight quarters, but once I made it to the top I was rewarded with the most amazing views. One could’t help but wonder if some Medieval soldier volunteered for extra guard duty not out of love of his job, but just for the view. I began to think about how I almost couldn’t do it because of a hangover.
I may not be able to climb to the top of any towers I find on my future travels, but for now my standard policy is always climb the tower. Worry about the climb down after. If all else goes wrong, gravity will handle most of it.