GOAL SURPRISE: The World Is An Eerily Small Place (Ireland)
You may recall from our last blog post that camping and not planning an itinerary too heavily, led to some unexpected adventures. Some welcomed, some not so much. Generally, that’s the GOAL (see what I did there) behind our travels. Somehow, there’s been an inverse relationship between epic adventures and the amount of planning done beforehand.
To put our travels simply: too much planning increases the chances of disappointment and dullness, conversely, a little planning can lead to epic and rad adventures! (Cyd hates the word rad!)
After we were pissed on by the Irish rain and wind, we had an amazing and ideal day at the Cliffs of Moher. It’s said the Irish weather has a sense of humor and they definitely wanted us at the “cliffs” that day, instead of our scheduled trip to Skellig Michael.
Our decision to abandon our tent that night, since it was still soaked, delivered our most memorable night of the entire trip. We decided to find a B&B in Doolin, not an easy task since it’s the closest town to the “cliffs”, so we parked the car and promptly began walking from house to house looking for vacancies.
Wandering and coldly being rejected by “No Vacancy” signs began to chip away at our enthusiasm.
Maybe we should just suck it up and find a campground?
No, we just had an epic time at the “Cliffs”, push on!
We finally walked into the first house that advertised “Vacancies Available” and was greeted by the homeowner sitting in a rocking chair.
“Hello, how are you?”, we asked.
“How the fuck does it look like I’m doing? I’m great!”, exclaimed the drunken house owner.
“Well alright! Any rooms available?”
“Sorry but these lovely ladies just took the last room a few minutes earlier”, motioning to 2 ladies sitting on the couch. “It’s going to be tough finding a room at this time of day but just head down the road and take the first availability there is.”
“Deal, thank you.”
Luckily, the next house we were able to snag a room after the owner insisted that he needed to give Cyd a bunch of kisses on the cheek. Remarkably, there was nothing awkward about that scene. The man was jolly, and like the last B&B owner, honest and fun-loving. A theme that continued throughout our stay.
Finally, a real bed, power outlets, and no disturbance from the wind or rain. Showered and refreshed we ran down to the only pub in town, O’Connor’s Pub. The place was packed and we never thought we would get a table in time before the kitchen closed. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long and they assured us the kitchen would stay open so we could get some grub.
Irish beef stew and fish and chips later we rallied and hit the bar. In typical pub fashion, in came a keyboard, a fiddle, a guitar, that took over a booth. Apparently, booths are the preferred staging method of Irish pubs….fuck stages!
A couple pints and songs later we were recognized by the man from our first B&B encounter, Mr. “how the fuck does it look like I’m doing”. He was amazed we looked so good but it’s easy when you’re not covered in mud and the Irish weather from the night before. It took a few minutes to adjust to his thick accent but we zeroed-in.
Mr. “how the fuck does it look like I’m doing” used to own the pub but sold it recently. He stated that the bar was built by his family in 1832 and was passed down the family until he decided it was time to part ways. He inquired about our origins and we proudly stated that we have always called New Jersey our home.
“New Jersey? My best friend growing up moved to New Jersey and started his own Irish pub.”
“Oh wow, that’s pretty cool!”
“It’s somewhere in the Montclair area.”
I had my doubts, but stating the town “Montclair” had that come to an abrupt end.
“Many Irish pubs in the area, Tierney’s?”, we asked.
“No that’s not it. My buddy Jethro and his family started it in the 80’s and he has a couple of them now. The first location might have been by the American football stadium. I can’t remember the town name but I feel like it starts with the letter “C”.”
“Wait, your best friend’s name is Jethro? You’re kidding me?”
Now it’s getting creepy.
“Carlstadt, is that the town name?”
“Wait a minute, does your best friend own the Grasshopper?”
“Yes, that’s the name. I couldn’t remember it.”
“Get the fuck outta here! Cyd and I grew up next to his second location in Wayne. We have been going to the Grasshopper since we were kids because that’s been our local pub. Holy shit this is weird! My parents used to always mention Jethro!”
We were astonished and the legend of Doolin, Sean O’Connor, began buying us whiskey or whatever we wanted for the remainder of the night. Somehow we stumbled into a tiny town on the west coast of Ireland, only to find out that the owner of the pub’s best friend owns and operates our local pub from New Jersey.
You may not find these developments astounding but I can’t describe the emotions of the conversation clearly enough. People use the term “small world” to describe a host of things. But that phrase takes on a whole new dynamic and gravity when it hits so close to home in the most remote of places.
We have met plenty of people around the globe that have visited NJ and have some knowledge of the area. We’ve even encountered high school friends on small Greek Islands, but somehow, this was a little different. For someone, in the middle of nowhere, to randomly strike up a conversation only to find out that he’s closely connected to that small, sentimental Irish pub from our childhood, was bone-chilling.
I’ve stated my theory a million times. Wherever we travel we either meet people from NJ or those that have family or friends there. Wherever we go there will at some point, be a Jersey connection.
So far, the evidence in mounting.
Small world, ehh?