I have been wanting to write an account of the CFFB trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland but have been swamped with Evolve Foods/Paleo Brands biz.
Now that I have a moment…
We decided it would be easiest to fly into Dublin instead of Belfast, as the flights into Belfast were at less than desirable times, and I had never been to either city...so why not.
Through some frequent flyer status magic, I was upgraded to biz class. Thanks Delta. I guess being a Delta Platinum member has it it’s privileges.
We land in Dublin, walk off the plane right to the car rental…simple and easy. We rent a diesel VW and head off to explore Dublin. I have never driven in England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Australia or New Zealand and I have to say it was a bit intimidating at first, but other than misjudging the left side of the car a few times on left turns, I was good to go.
- My grandmother was from County Cork near the Shehy Mountains and I remember as a youngster seeing a club my granddad had he called a “shillelagh.” It had long been lost and I wanted to find a real shillelagh and I figured the town bearing it’s name would be a great place to start. So, our first adventure took us south to the town of Shillelagh in the County Wicklow. We found a guy on Main Street that made and sold a proper shillelagh and after an hour of playing around I purchased a few for the boys and myself.
For anyone that is unfamiliar with a “shillelagh,” here is some background and history on the Irish club. A traditional shillelagh is made from blackthorn wood or oak. The wood is smeared with butter and put into a chimney to cure. The knot at one of end of the stick is hollowed out and filled with molten lead to increase the weight. They are commonly the length of walking stick but range in size from 24”-40”. Over time the shillelagh has become a symbol of stereotypical violent Irish behavior. Modern practitioners of Bataireacht study the use of the shillelagh for self-defense and stick fighting, for a detailed history of the shillelagh click here.
- After our adventurous drive through Ireland we headed back to Dublin to eat and explore. Here are a few observations…
- Guinness has effectively sponsored the entire city of Dublin. Every bar, most every corner and about every billboard was sponsored by Guinness. Everywhere I looked there was a gold harp reminding me to have a beer. On a side note, anyone looking to effectively brand their company should do a case study on Guinness, as I never seen anything like it...not that I am complaining. When it got dark, we headed to meet a friend at the Brazen Head for a few pints. The Brazen Head is the oldest bar in Ireland and did not disappoint. There was a worn stone floor outside and an old pub with a few rooms. I guess this the model for the ever so popular, “Irish Bar,” that seems to sit cozy in every town from LA to NY. There was even a lone guy playing a bagpipe at one point.
- The next morning we headed to Belfast. The drive to Belfast was eventful as we speed up there to meet Craig who had flown in from Glasgow. We ended up having lunch and dinner at the same restaurant, Made in Belfast. The spot turned out to have some great food and a solid drink menu. After spending several hours eating and drinking we decided to navigate to the hotel.
- The CFFB seminar given at The Unit in Belfast was a great experience. Jonny and Helen were first class hosts and everyone who attended was squared away. The participation was excellent and we had a great time. That night we headed out a local Italian spot for dinner and crashed early as we had an early morning for day 2.
- The oddest point of the trip happened at 2 am when I woke to hear my door open and find a drunken guy in my room asking where the bathroom was. I flipped on the light ready to throw down naked and the guy ran. I am not sure if he ran because he was in the wrong room and realized it or the site of a naked dude ready to beat wholesale ass, but he bolted pretty quick. I locked the door and headed back to bed.
- Day 2 found a similar experience to day 1, with an excited and sore group ready for more football. Once the cert was concluded we headed back to Dublin for dinner, and a flight out the next day. We ate dinner at a spot called The Bank. The food is insane. When I asked the bartender is the beef was from GF cows, he replied, “What else would a cow eat?” I took that as a good sign and ordered the rib eye. The next bit of knowledge came again from the bartender when he told me Irish whiskey was gluten free. The distilling processes remove the gluten protein from the whiskey and makes it gluten free. He said it is not public knowledge because who really cared about gluten till recently. I guess that is why they call Irish whiskey, “Holy Water.”
- I wish I could end the story here and tell you I had a great trip home, but that would cut short the best part of my trip. I was unfortunate to get seated on the flight home next to lady that drank 20-25 glasses of white wine. And when the flight attendant ran out of white wine she switched to double vodka tonics. Needless to say she was hammered. Things got interesting when she left her glasses in the lavatory, got irate she lost them and accused me of stealing them. After she searched my bag, crawled around on the floor of the cabin she had a panic attack and passed out. Things were quiet for a few hours until she woke up and asked for another drink. The attendant not wanting to cause more of a scene decided to serve her. All I can say to the flight attendant is thank you for allowing this woman to be awesome.
My adventure in Ireland and Northern Ireland was well worth the 14-hour plane ride and the power drinker on my ride home. I got to explore a good portion of Ireland and met a solid crew of S&C coaches in Ireland and the UK. I am hoping to travel back with more time to spare so I can explore the emerald isle.