Tribe of the Ring Fort

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sarah starts work

Funerals are a really big deal in Ireland. First, everyone goes to the mass, then they all walk to the cemetery for the burial. The shopkeepers shut off lights and close doors as the funeral procession passes. After the burial, a funeral luncheon is usually held at the Listowel Arms Hotel, where I’ve started working. The hotel is in the center of town, and it’s really the only place in town big enough to have any function over 30 people.

But before sitting down to lunch in the restaurant, everyone needs a few drinks. This is where I come in.

My job is mainly to manage the pub, called the Writer’s Bar. It’s a cozy place with a long and polished dark wood bar, a peat burning fireplace, and a dozen small tables with worn leatherette armchairs and small stools. There are 2 tall, old fashioned windows at one end looking out onto the Square. It’s the kind of place where the waitresses know everyone, and the menu never changes much.

About 100 people from the funeral crowd in for a pint or a hot whiskey. It’s my second day on the job, I don’t even know what a hot whiskey is, I can only half understand what people are saying, and even making change with Euros is still a challenge for me. I muddle through, and it gets a lot easier after I realize that people are only asking for 4 different things: hot whiskeys, pints, bottles of beer, or wine. No martinis or cosmopolitans here, and I’ve just learned how to pour a decent pint of Guinness.

We still have the regular lunch crowd to feed, but the bar clears out as everyone sits down at the luncheon. People linger over that for a couple of hours, and about 25 of them return to the bar for the rest of the afternoon and evening. In fact, when I leave at 9:30, a handful are still there. I’m impressed they’re still standing. The concept of “overserving” is different here. The concern is mainly about drinking and driving (these folks happen to be staying in the hotel). Other than that, nobody really cares how much someone drinks unless they’re “smelly”. A pub can refuse service to someone on the grounds of being smelly, or already drunk on arrival.

Hot Whiskey:
In a mug, mix a spoonful of brown sugar with a cup of hot water. Add a shot of whiskey, and finish with a lemon slice studded with a few cloves. Drink. Repeat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Pictures of a small village in County Kerry. Barry's grandfather is from Gneevguilla.

Snow on the MacGillycuddy Reeks

On Sunday, February 19, the mountains near Killarney had the first snow we've seen in Ireland. Also spelled Macgillicuddy's reeks, this is the highest mountain range in Ireland.

Susannah in her school uniform