The following events took place in May, 2009, during a hike of Ireland’s Wicklow Way. Stretching some 130 km from Marlay Park in Dublin to the village of Clonegal in County Carlow, since being established in 1980, the Wicklow Way has become one of the country’s most famous long distance footpaths. For more information, see the Wicklow Way website.
A small room on the side of a farmhouse, The Dying Cow is one of my favourite pubs in all of Ireland – and that’s saying quite a lot.
I arrived around 5 pm after a long day’s hiking on the Wicklow Way. Besides the barkeep, I was the only person there.
I planted myself at a small table and began to catch up on my journal over two or three pints of Guinness. During my years of travelling, I’ve lost count of the amount of spiral notebooks I have filled whilst seated at pubs, coffee shops and tea houses.
Writing and drinking.
I don’t know whether the stimulus to put pen to paper derives from the beverage, the location or my mood at the time. Possibly a combination of all three. Best not to think about it too much. Over-analysis is the death knell of imaginative thought and in my own case, generally a sign that I’m overdue to take a long walk in the woods.
By 7 pm a few locals started filtering in. By 9 pm it was standing room only. Rounds were bought, stories recounted and and my facial and belly muscles started growing weary from so much laughing.
I remember talking for an hour about the 1991 World Rugby cup quarter-final between Ireland and Australia. It was a classic contest, with the Aussies escaping with the win in the final minute of the match. The gentleman that I was speaking to, Ron, had attended the game at Dublin’s legendary Lansdowne Road stadium. He said it was the best game of rugby he had ever seen. That’s one of many reasons I like the Irish; win, lose or draw it doesn’t really matter, as long as you have a good time and a few laughs.
By 11 pm ‘The Dying Cow’ was about to close and patrons started heading for the door. The bartender had been kind enough to allow me to pitch my tent in the field behind the pub.
I shuffled my way through the dew-laden grass to a relatively flat spot at the northern end of the property. I pitched my shelter and was asleep within minutes. It had been a memorable day of rolling green hills, an atmospheric pub and excellent company. Hiking in Ireland………….it’s great craic. 😉