‘There is much more to Ireland than stereotypical charms’, boasts the Lonely Planet Guide before going on to list ten stereotypical experiences for first-time visitors to Ireland. Allow me if you will to rectify their list:
1 Literary Dublin.
The full extent of Lonely Planet’s guide to Dublin literature is The Book of Kells and Bloomsday which celebrates James Joyce’s Ulysses. Take if from me, both experiences are as stimulating as having a piano dropped on your head by Margaret Thatcher. A better idea is to visit Sligo Town, home of Pat McCabe, author of ‘The Butcher Boy’. Not only one of the best living writers in Ireland but also a man in need of psychiatric help. Why not spend an evening throwing sheep’s livers at his window while avoiding ricochet gunfire from the McCabe children? A mite dangerous I’ll admit, but more fun than dressing up as some Victorian gimp on June 16th and tossing it off with David Norris.
2 Galway City.
Hmm… Galway is great. It’s my home town and it’s got the sea and the mountains of Connemara and lots of Islands around it, which is great if you’re my father-in-law. But what if you’re a randy twenty-something who wants to spend a week living the degenerate dream? Well my friend, Galway caters for you too! The pubs are amazing and the locals are suckers for a foreign accent. Pretend you’re a Prussian noble or the scion of a wealthy Agricultural family who owns numerous swineries and before you know it you’ll be whisked off to a nearby caravan park for instant debauchery.
3 The Rock of Cashel.
Avoid it. It’s in Tipperary, a bad place. The locals are cannibals who’ve never heard of shampoo. Best to stay in Galway. Find a pub specialising in Buckfast tonic wine. You’ll need it, especially if the pub is playing…
Short for traditional music. Repetitive, hysterical and very loud, don’t be taken aback when a repetitive, hysterical and very loud Irish person threatens you with a broken pint glass if you don’t give absolute attention to the blind fiddle player and his rendition of Father Kelly’s Foggy Dew.
5 Aran Islands.
Well my Polish in-laws loved it. The few hundred natives all live in simple cottages and speak Irish. Part of the charm is stepping back a hundred years to ‘a simpler time…’ Seriously, who wants that? Remember how disgusting it was in the 80’s? You really want to go back further? A world without giant Chupa-chups and Hula Hoops and Angry Birds? No, I didn’t think so.
6 Ancient Ireland.
Don’t be fooled, ancient Ireland can be fun. There’s a hotel disco in Dublin where divorced older women go to meet men. Known locally as ‘Jurassic Park’, if you’re interested let me know.
7 Giant’s Causeway.
You’ve seen it before on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy album. Located at the top of Ireland, this alien rock formation will make you feel humble and insignificant. If you’re Polish that shouldn’t be a problem.
8 The Dingle Peninsula.
Poles won’t like it. There’s no herring there. There’s no low-cost supermarkets, so if you want cheap milk you’ll have to make friends with a cow.
9 Cliffs of Moher.
214 metres at its highest point and no guardrail. Yeah, go and see that. Why not put on a pair of rollerskates and a blindfold while you’re at it.
10 The Perfect Pint. ‘The Perfect Pint’ of Guinness is made up of Propylene Glycol, GMO Sugars, insect-based dyes, fish bladder extract, monosodium glutamate, caramel colouring. Weren’t you listening? Stick to the Buckfast tonic wine. Take a bottle and climb Croagh Patrick barefoot. Drunk, bloody and sweaty; this is real Ireland.