July 22, 2009, Wednesday, 8:46 a.m., on the bus - We are headed to Northern Ireland, or as the Irish call it, "Norn Iron."
Yesterday morning in Galway we had some time and went jewelry shopping. This is the home of Claddagh rings. Sue and I got rings.
Last night we were in Westport and we did another pub crawl. We had dinner, and Guinness, at a cyber pub that was okay. A real nice young woman from Poland was working there who had just been in Ireland two weeks. She was sweet even though the owner seemed to be a bit of a jerk. I have been told some Irish view hiring an Eastern European to like buying a new toaster. Others are very nice to them. Most don't think they will stick around. But, I think Ireland will be much more diverse in a generation or two as more and more immigration occurs and those folks have babies and get homes.
I bought a map and Sue has really gotten into marking it up and tracing our route. That's very cool.
After dinner we went to J.J. O'Malley's pub it was full with an elementary school band playing. After they played a song an adult sang for them then said to them, "some day you will be at a pub on a Saturday night drinking beer and enjoying music..." Children are pretty common in Irish pubs. The drinking age is 18 but younger kids come in and drink.
It was very crowded so we went across the street to Matt Malloys pub. A singer came in and started singing a mixture of traditional and popular music. A group of kids age 14 to 18 came in and got drinks, one of the kids asked for a song and the singer, annoyed by the young drinkers said, "if you are still allowed to be up for my second set I may sing it then." Pubs in Ireland are not segregated by age. People of all ages will go to the pubs, teenagers mix with seniors very regularly in the same pubs, parents are common bringing their kids and downing pints while their sons and daughters are in the pub with them.
We enjoyed the music and more Guinness but decided to go back to J.J. O'Malley's pub. The elementary school band was now gone. The place was still pretty full and we made our way to the back room where this group was jamming on the banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, accordion and a bodhran drum. The place was packed like sardines and everyone was clapping and stomping to the music. It was great fun and we stayed until after closing time.