The Irish flavour

The Irish flavour

Ireland has not yet been discovered by the Indian tourist. It was one of the EU’s fastest growing economies till a couple of years ago but today, it is part of the infamous PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) who are in a major financial mess. However, there are no visible signs of the same here.

‘We are in recession’ — we are told continuously but the signs are completely opposite. The Dublin pubs and restaurants are absolutely full, the ultramodern Harp Bridge and Dublin Convention Centre are impressively lit up after dusk, countryside houses are  beautiful and well-maintained, the public services are world class, the malls are teeming, various art and culture centres are thriving and overall, there is a general impression of prosperity all around.

Though the island is divided into two different nations, a lot of sports bodies represent a unified Ireland. Cricket is a clear example and matches of the same tournament or series may be shared between Belfast and Dublin. Surprisingly, the locals do have a working knowledge of cricket and Sachin Tendulkar is pretty well-known. Golf is another such sport. However, the game which seems to be the most popular is rugby.

True to the popularly-held belief, alcohol and Ireland are interlinked on numerous aspects. There is a particular brand of music popularly called ‘Irish Drinking Songs’ and several jokes abound on the same subject. The streets of Dublin are alive with world-famous pubs and bars, many unique in their own way. Food is also a major part of Irish lifestyle. A ‘Full Irish Breakfast’ consists of eight items (including five meat dishes), all weighing in around two kilos! Though typical Irish food is reasonably bland for Indian taste, Dubliners are evidently experimental with their food choices. Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, French, Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern and more are all represented on the food map. Indian restaurants are usually owned by Pakistanis with a mixed staff from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives. Italian bistros are extremely popular for breakfasts and then, the humble ‘chippers’ (fish and chips joints) are always favoured anywhere in the British Isles. 

The Irish countryside is pristinely beautiful. Picture postcard beachside villages of Bray, Dun Laoghaire and Howth are all within an hour’s turnaround from Dublin.  Wicklow Castle and Malahide Castle can stand up to any of their more famous counterparts in Scotland and France. County Cork, in the extreme south, is reputed to be ‘greenest’ county and with the best natural greenery of Ireland.

County Cork is also home to the famous Blarney Castle. As per the popular legend, if one climbs the highest level of the castle and is able to kiss the centuries old Blarney stone, hanging over backwards over the parapet’s ledge, he or she is bestowed upon by the gift of the gab! Travelling west to Galway and along the Atlantic Coast, lay the famed Cliffs of Moher, which are a series of jagged cliffs rising straight up from the ocean. The O’Brien Tower dominating Moher gives a majestic view of the ocean. While Gaelic is one of the two official languages, it is hardly used except for in sign postings.

(The author can be reached at arupendugupta@gmail.com)

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