Driving the Wrong Way, Different Plugs, Landmarks, and Fanta: Sully’s Ireland Thought Catalog

MAYNOOTH, Ireland — Upon reaching the end of our stay at the lovely Carton House in Maynooth, Ireland, a small suburb of Dublin with a population of around 15,000, Alec Greaney and I had an idea. After all, it was the first time either of us had left the country. Why not write down our observations of what life is like when not in the United States? So, that’s what I did. Here is a chronological recap of my thoughts as we arrived in Dublin and gallivanted through this new land, from landing on Wednesday to the night before heading to Boston College’s game against Georgia Tech at Aviva Stadium. Yes, we will be stylizing the date and time like they do in Ireland. We’re foreign now. (And for more on rugby, read here!)

WEDNESDAY, 31 August 2016
-09:05, Greenwich Mean Time: Touching down in Ireland! Wow, everything looks much greener here. Why is there no thick, brown death cloud of air as we land?
-09:14: Nothing here is in English. It’s all in Irish. It’s not even close to English.
-09:45: Customs is not fun. Customs is not fun one teeny bit.
-09:52: These license plates are really long. And these bus seats are most certainly not built for Americans. Way too thin. Waaaay too thin. But hey, at least this looks like a very safe ride.
-09:53: Oh my god, oh my god. What the hell is going on? Why is the steering wheel on the right side? Holy s—t, you are going the wrong way on this road please Lord help us.
-09:56: There is no chance that I could drive in Ireland. I just learned how to operate a motor vehicle and now everything is a lie.
-10:15: Seriously, how does anyone understand the Irish language? Especially on the roads! Those are the ones in the big letters!
-10:17: I’m not sure how fast I am going right now because of the kilometers. Thanks, U.S. public school system.
-10:38: All of the words in English are spelled differently here. Everything is re instead of er, s instead of z, and color has a u in it. Go figure.
-10:45: Just when I think I’m going to survive this drive, the roads get incredibly thin in the Irish country. The bus actually has to drive in the centre (did I do that right?) of the road when no one is coming, then move off to the side when cars come. Help.
-11:02: Arrived at the hotel! Carton House is an absolutely beautiful place. So big and rustic. I hear Grace Kelly loved to stay here a lot.
-11:06: There is an elderly man wearing a Margaritaville t-shirt as we walk into the building. I’m glad a little slice of home has come to Ireland with us.
-11:07: Several BC players and staffers with non-Irish names ask for help to look for their keycodes. The Irish-born staff is not familiar with any of them.
-11:09: “What’s your name?” “Michael Sullivan.” “Good, we know that one.” Got my key.
-11:12: I’m 100 percent certain Steve Addazio put us all the way in the back on purpose.
-11:18: Holy crap what the hell are these plug things. Is this some kind of sick joke? Why are these not like American plugs? How in the world have we not made this a universal thing? This is why we need open borders, seriously people, let’s make this happen, this isn’t tough.
-11:41: Funny social media fact: Instagram has Instagram Stories, but Ireland Twitter does not have Twitter Moments. How am I supposed to get my news now?
-13:15 (yeah, I did it): On the bus back to Dublin for a city tour and to see the Book of Kells. Busses here have bathrooms next to the emergency exit on the side. It’s really hard to get into them.
-14:10: Dublin is essentially built on around the giant Guinness factory along the River Liffey.
-14:23: Kind of embarrassed at how much better the infrastructure is here. They’re not afraid to literally rip up main roads that people use to replace this Back to the Future-esque monorail system they have. Be better, Boston. Be better, New York.
-15:03: Picked up the tour guide and other passengers at the Ballsbridge Hotel, which is in the suburb next to Aviva Stadium. It’s basically Newton.
-16:45: Things we learned from our tour guide. Ireland is the Hollywood of Europe, Trinity College is 3,500 Euro per semester for within the European Union and about 14,000 for Americans (*eyes emoji* @ Fr. William P. Leahy, S.J.), and the Book of Kells is a really old Bible.
-17:21: As we wait for the bus, I enjoy a Fanta Exotic in a coffee shop. Fanta in Europe has a lot of real fruit juice (including peach, orange, and passion fruit). It is vastly superior to American Fanta.
-17:26: I do some research on Fanta and find out it was created as a result of an embargo of Nazi Germany. The warm glow of this delicious nectar has now dissipated.
-17:28: All of these nutrition values are also in the metric system. Since I don’t know what a kilojoule is, I’m just going to assume everything is very healthy.
-18:32: Alec is getting souvenirs for his parents in a traditional Irish gift shop/American tourist trap. The music playing over the loudspeakers is just U2 and an Irish violin version of the Church song, “Lord of the Dance.”
-21:02: Back at the hotel, getting some traditional Irish fare. Nah, I’m eating wings. Alec has prawns and crayfish, though. There is apparently a difference between American mustard and English mustard, though I am not willing to find out what that is. I also got mayo as the dip with my fries.
-21:32: Our waiter told us that he had a bunch of friends who went to Amherst College. He says he doesn’t remember anything about his stay in America. I also got a dirty look when I said I was from New York.

THURSDAY, 1 September 2016
-9:31: Irish breakfast is the best thing on the face of the entire Earth. The sausages are just sublime. Alec also likes black and white pudding. Don’t eat that.
-9:56: Quick, what are the first three yogurt (or, yoghurt) flavo(u)rs you can think of? Originally, I’d say peach, blueberry, and raspberry (or vanilla, something like that). Not the case in Ireland. Still Dannon brand, but the three flavors we had were pear, melon, and orange. It’s really cool how it’s the same brand, but completely different flavo(u)rs based on the U.S. vs. Ireland.
-11:32: Netflix in Ireland only has the United Kingdom’s version of The Office, not the Michael Scott version. That, my friends, is bulls—t.
-13:03: At lunch, we learned the importance of tipping. See, you don’t have to tip waiters and waitresses in Ireland, presumably because they get paid a livable wage. However, in the U.S., tipping incentivizes good service. If you aren’t tipping but the wait staff receives a living wage, they get paid no matter what. Long story short: this thought began at 11:58.
-13:15: Went outside to take a walk around Carton House’s incredible greens. The forecast calls for a very nice day, with highs around 62 and just a light wind. I’m very excited to take some pictures.
-13:17: It has begun to rain.
-15:18: We just got back to the room. It rained the whole time.
-16:42: The person who speaks on the Spotify ads has an Irish accent, and all of the ads are for Aer Lingus. How can I take this feature back with me?
-18:32: Seriously, you should turn on RTÉ, Sky News or the BBC some time. Listening to them cover American politics is absolutely hysterical.
-19:10: Also, take a look at the sports section of an Irish newspaper. Or should I say, sport. We read a copy of the Irish Independent and it had a whole section dedicated to Leinster Rugby, the team we’re seeing tomorrow.

FRIDAY, 2 September 2016
-9:30: After another delicious Irish breakfast in which I ate everything, we actually made it on the bus. Today’s destination: Kilmainham Gaol, the site of many famous Irish prisoners—both political and criminal—especially those from the 1916 Easter Rising.
-10:12: Okay, another very confusing thing: all of the street signs are tucked away on the sides of buildings. You can never actually tell what street you’re on unless you turn the corner onto that street. This is not a tourist-friendly city.
-10:21: Six different establishments on this block included the name Patrick.
-10:34: I could really use a dog to help me cross the streets because they are going in every which direction and they’re all opposites from the United States.
-12:29: Seriously, the Kilmainham Gaol has been the highlight of this trip, and I’m not saying this just because I’m a history major. Our tour guide was awesome. Look up the stories of Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett, Patrick and William Pearse, Constance Markevicz, and Eamon De Valera. You won’t be disappointed.
-13:43: Walked to Royal Dublin Society Arena to purchase tickets for tonight’s Leinster vs. Benetton Treviso rugby match in the Guinness Pro 12. Was told the box office wouldn’t be open until 17:30. It doesn’t say that on the website. My feet hurt.
-14:51: Under the suggestion of fellow editor Shannon Kelly, we visited Supermac’s. It’s essentially like McDowell’s from Coming to America: a fast-food place veeery similar to McDonald’s. The food, however, is much, much better.
-14:52: Also a Europe Pro Tip: If they ask you to pay in euros or dollars, always say euros. They’re trying to scam you. Alec learned that the hard way.
-16:10: Addazio has intimidated everyone in the crowd here at the BC Pep Rally at Trinity. That is his microphone, dammit. The band plays “For Boston” to everyone’s delight, anyway.
-16:48: This is very much a bus city. I know this because I nearly was hit by one.
-18:30: We arrive at RDS Arena. Alec will have more on the joys of rugby.
-20:30: We ship out after a victory for the home team from Dublin. Lots of screaming. Great sport.
-21:22: Paid over 60 euros for a cab back to Maynooth. Our driver was eating a whole kiwi including the skin. This country is something else.

Featured Image by Alec Greaney / Heights Editor

About Michael Sullivan 263 Articles
Michael Sullivan is the editor-in-chief of The Heights. After shouting out this space to his mother for two years as sports editor, he'd like to give one to his dad. You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelJSully.