Ireland

A Victory for Everyone in Northern Ireland

David McCauley and Vincent Crelan with their settlement agreement

Back in 2009, my wife Sophie and I spent a few nights in London for the celebration of what would’ve been Kirsty MacColl’s 50th birthday. After a brief singalong at Kirsty’s bench in Soho Square, we adjourned to a basement bar where most everyone got very drunk. Sophie and I were too shy to talk to anyone, and we sat in a corner by ourselves while the crowd broke off into teams to take a Kirsty trivia quiz. That’s when a smiling gray-haired Irishman wandered over and asked us if we were in a cult.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“You two aren’t taking the quiz or talking to anybody, so I figured you must be in a cult or something,” he said.

I assured him we weren’t in a cult, and we started talking. His name was Vincent Creelan, an ex-cop from Belfast and self-described “Kirsty husband,” who’d come along at the behest of his partner David McCauley. 1He pointed out something I never realized but now seems obvious — that Kirsty MacColl is beloved amongst gay men. With the exception of Kirsty’s sons, I might’ve been the only straight guy there. Vincent, Sophie and I spoke for a while and have stayed in touch off and one since then.

Yesterday I learned that Vincent and his partner David have won a five-year battle with the Police Service of Northern Ireland against the force’s institutionalized homophobia. Continue Reading →

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1. He pointed out something I never realized but now seems obvious — that Kirsty MacColl is beloved amongst gay men. With the exception of Kirsty’s sons, I might’ve been the only straight guy there.

Leprechaun Status: Threatened

As a small child growing up in Pittsburgh, every St. Patrick’s Day I would carefully look for leprechauns on my walk home from school. I never saw one. (Though once I was pretty sure I did; it turned out to be a discarded Capri-Sun packet.) I know now that I was being foolish, because leprechauns have been extinct in Pennsylvania since 1972. They’ve died off from most of the globe, except for isolated regions of the United States where domestic leprechauns released by Irish immigrants formed small feral populations, all of which are critically endangered. Even in Ireland leprechauns are sadly classified as “threatened.” The chief factor in their population loss in Ireland is traffic accidents, which are estimated to decrease their number by as much as 7% a year. (A full 37% of roadkill found in Ireland is leprechaun.)

All of the above is just an elaborate excuse for me to post this chart I created in 2006 for the defunct The-N.com, delineating Things That are REAL, Things That are NOT REAL, and Things That are EXTINCT:

Things That are Real, Things That are Not Real, and Things That are Extinct

Pixies, Unintelligible, Possibly Drunk

Look what I just found on my phone: a 35-second mp3 of the Pixies rehearsing “Here Comes Your Man” that I recorded in a back alley behind the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. My first bootleg!

As I’m absolutely certain you remember from this year-old post, Sophie and I wandered up a lane in Dublin one afternoon and heard “Debaser” blaring through a wall next to us. We quickly figured out that it was being played live by the band, then stood there and listened to the entirety of Doolittle rehearsed in sequence. Here’s my recording, which sounds exactly like it was captured on an iPhone in an alley in Dublin through 12 inches of concrete by a drunk American still coping with the fact that he only has three pairs of underwear to last nine months:

The Pixies soundchecking in Dublin, Ireland

REMINDER: The Meaningless Hand Gesture contest ends in just about 24 hours. This is your last chance to win one of three priceless pieces of Americana which will serve as your passport into the beguiling world of show business/pot luck dinners.

I’m Fecking Sick of Driving in Ireland

The Beach DogIreland wants you to die. That’s one possible explanation for the roads here. I’d heard people talk about the infamous one-and-a-half lane roads, but those people were likely being paid by the tourist board to upsell it. One and a half lanes would be luxurious. I’d french Bertie Ahern for one and a half lanes. Hell, I’d French Bernie Ahern for a lane and a quarter. Because the roads are three quarters of a lane wide. Three quarters of a lane with traffic going in both directions. On serpentine switchback roads filled with blind curves with walls on either side and maniacal Irish people driving Audi A6’s at 120 kph straight toward you while weaving in and out of the sheep and elderly women that’ve wandered into the middle of the road. Oh, and the street signs are all Post-It notes stuck to the side of goats. Four days of driving here have tensed up my neck muscles so much that I look like a tortoise.

Continue Reading →

Finally, a post from Sophie!

Pixies Proof

I think I’m finally recovered from jetlag/trip shock enough to spend my relax time on a blog entry instead of watching Irish television (congrats to Clodagh Roper on making the quarterfinals this week on “An Jig Gig,” btw).

In general, I have this to say about Ireland:
1. the people are friendly and witty;
2. the weather is plesantly dreary;
3. the paninis are dependable; and
4. sheep, cows, and horses cohabitate freely in its pastures.

Now, to catch up on our trip:

Seth has pretty well covered our flights over and our first day in Dublin. I will add that, continuing our track record of random celebrity sightings, we saw George Lopez at Heathrow!

I enjoyed the walking tour we took on Tuesday immensely, though it didn’t help orient me to the city as much as I would have hoped. Dublin city centre is a crazy maze of short winding streets – totally disorienting, but with lots of charm. I remember walking around at night in Temple Bar (the sort of “nightlife” district near Trinity College) when Seth and I came here for one night 12 years ago, and thinking it was just like NYC, but smaller. I definitely didn’t find it as intimidating as I remember then, but I’m also older. This was further made apparent on the “pub crawl,” where I spent probably too much time worrying about the tiny Spanish girls that immediately got drunk.

Day 2 in Dublin, we visited the Chester Beatty Library and the Guinness Storehouse.
Continue Reading →

To Whomever Sent Me the Non-English SMS…

Thanks, but I couldn’t read it. If you’d like a reply, please resend it in English or using an English alphabet.

Oh and to everyone else: we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary at the five-star G Hotel in Galway with a night of local oysters and washing our underwear in the sink. More to come later.