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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Eighteen minutes in Ireland

'Ah...,' they all said, with a knowing smirk. 'If it's your first time in Ireland, it's all about the craic. And the pubs. And the Guinness.'

But here I was, diving into my first ever Irish hostelry, with little expectation of enjoying any of that stuff. There had been no research: this doorway was any old escape from the cloudburst in Howth harbour; an overture to Storm Imogen; shrieking, mocking seagulls the rebellious, discordant string section, drowning out the gentle squelching of our rain-soaked shoes. We were freezing.

Even worse, we had to be in Dublin by midday to meet a man about a ticket, and the train from Howth was leaving in 18 minutes. There was barely time to neck a shot; never mind savouring my first pint of the black stuff and an hour or two of laid back blarney. Anyway. We needed a hot drink.

We blinked at the candlelight. Absorbed the silence. Craned our necks; strained our ears for the crackling fire...or just the craic. Nothing.

Then....a shout from the darkness. 'No--it's OK. Yous can come in if you like. It's just--well--be careful like, because it's twelve minutes past eleven and well, like--we're only insured from eleven thirty.'

Risking razing the place to the ground with no payout, we gently wriggled butts onto barstools in the murky light, without rocking the candle and bottle combo on the table too much and ordered, shamefully, coffees.

'Ah--but will those be straight Americanos?' asked the barman, hopefully--clearly assessing the additional, pre-11.30 risk that a damn good frothing could involve.

Recklessly, we ordered cappuccinos, and discovered that the barista and his equally devil-may-care, cappuccino quaffing friend at the bar, were called Frank, and, possibly for comedic effect, Frank.

They, in turn, heard that we were there not just for the craic, or the Guinness...maybe later....but for the rugby. A speedy, Frank-Frank debate followed about the forthcoming Ireland-Wales match, peppered with questions about our mini-break and indeed...our lives thus far. We were warming up.

As we drank our coffees, their talk turned a new member of staff. 'Ach...see here...and she doesn't make up a fire like Betsy, that's for sure...' said Frank, pulling Frank off his barstool, through to the now smoky snug. Poring over a pall of peatsmoke, they fixed the fire, stepped away, and sighed, partly because the air was clearer now, and partly because it was almost 11.30 and any ensuing smoke damage would, at least, be covered by the insurance.

With the Dublin train about to rumble on to the platform above, we downed the dregs of the wrong kind of froth, said our thankyous and goodbyes, and prepared to leave. At the door, we realised we hadn't paid, and rushed back to the bar. Maybe that's what the craic's all about. Showing up as customers; and; 18 minutes later...feeling, frankly.... like friends.

Like this? Check out my other posts on here: travel, life, health scares, Alzheimer`s, running (badly), loving chocolate and anything else I want to rant about. 

And NOW AVAILABLE..... Preparing for a huge great travel adventure with @nigelridpathx31 and blogging as we go.  Please have a look at:  

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