Halloween can be scary. 15 of us descending on Dublin at Halloween? Downright terrifying. In celebration of Lord Rachel’s 23rd birthday, our clan converged on Raheny, a little village just north of Dublin, for a few days of fun, games and Guinness.
I flew in on a Thursday night with Emily, my Best Birmingham Buddy. Birmingham Airport is pretty underrated, as Midlands transport hubs go: although their Spoons charged a tenner for a G&T, it’s really easy to get to from Leamington, and Ryanair flights are about a million pounds cheaper than from London (thereby balancing out any pre-flight bev costs).
After meeting Vicky, Sam and Hattie on the other side, and grabbing another quick drink for the road (this happens often, by the way), we piled in to a taxi and headed for our rented house, where Rachel and co. had already arrived. Our first night in Ireland was one of jokes, gin and James Arthur on repeat (it never gets old, say you won’t let go, etc.).
Friday morning came in a haze of bacon, eggs and coffee: every coffee of the weekend was, of course, Irish. We headed in to the village and swung by the first pub of the trip, where pints-a-plenty were consumed and many old locals were disturbed.
At some point, it was decided that this was not just a birthday party, but a hat party. I made sure to keep up with this latest fashion trend, and bought an excellent green baseball cap. I looked really nice. (In the same shop I bought a questionable pink ‘Ireland’ apron, decorated with sheep and fur. Not so nice.)
We took an open-top bus tour and travelled all of half a mile, using the 24-hour pass well. The coach took us past Trinity College, and we met an adorable baby whilst Emily risked her life and dignity by declaring to passers-by below, “I’m on top of the world!”
Sensibly, we disembarked pretty quickly and made a beeline for the nearest bar. By this point many Guinnesses deep, we had the merriest time in an inconspicuous pub (which, despite its modest decor, charged €16 for a double G&T) where a local duo were playing an acoustic set. With a little encouragement, they happily played us some classic Irish folk songs, including the Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ and ‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem.
Eventually, we took ourselves home to prepare for Rachel’s birthday eve night out, which ended up being a night in for a few of us. Kit, Emily and I heralded in 23 with a pretty special performative rap:
“Her name is Rachel Lord, and she’s turning 23. Doesn’t matter that she’s old, because she’s young and wild and free. We would liken you to p**, it’s not us, it’s you. Sometimes you’re a ****, but you’re b***tiful, said James Blunt.”
Unfortunately, Rachel doesn’t remember the rap; thankfully, we had two more days of birthday fun to follow. On Saturday, we enjoyed a pleasant coastal stroll, ending up in the nearby village of Howth. That evening, we had dinner at The Camden exchange in the city, where we had massive, meaty meals – I had the aptly named ‘cow in a bowl’.
As it was the Saturday of Halloween, the entirety of Dublin was dressed up, it seemed, except for us; Imane, who arrived late on Friday, had neglected to bring an alternative outfit, and wound up being the only member of the party in fancy dress.
We tried to make up for our failures with limp dribbles of fake blood, but really, we were saving the full costumes for Sunday night…
Of the meals we had in Dublin, the best were cooked by Abi, mother hen of the group and provider of some incredibly cute party bags. The cooked breakfasts and chilli con carne completely trumped the only restaurant I ate out at, a Mexican joint where I dined alone at a particularly wobbly point on the Friday night.
4am on Monday morning was a hysterical blur: I’d booked the 6.25 flight in a futile attempt at making my 10am class. Of course, the plane was delayed by 2 hours, but the morning’s trauma was completely worth the weekend and I somehow made it to the rest of the day’s seminars. Overall, the company, city, food and drink made Dublin a 10/10. Did you know I’m a quarter Irish?