Published: Thursday, December 22, 2016
My friend Marcus has just returned from a trip to Ireland which included a tour of the Guinness brewery in Dublin. This brought to mind my own experiences. When I was 13 or 14 my brother and I hitch-hiked around Ireland. I wore my kilt, the idea being that it would get us lifts much easier and so it did. (Can you imagine parents allowing a 13 year old and a 17 year old to do that now?) In Dublin we went on the Guinness factory tour but I couldn’t stand the smell of the brewing hops and I abandoned the tour.
Seven or eight years ago when I was back in Dublin for a rugby international between Ireland and Wales, a tour of the factory was organised but I didn’t go. I went to the city centre instead and managed to get involved in a riot. A group of Paisleyites had come down from Belfast for a procession but some locals took exception to this. I was carried back and forth by the surge of the crowd, the road was being re-laid with granite cobble stones which were being thrown at the marchers. It was quite exciting really. Out of corner of my eye I saw something flying through the air so I ducked but it was only a pigeon. You can always rely on the Irish to put on good show.
Mind you, so can the Welsh. On the boat home, Marcus was interrupted in his cabin at 4 o’clock in the morning. He was lying in his bunk singing hymns in Welsh. It was the ship’s captain who threatened to cast him adrift in a dinghy if he didn’t shut up.
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