Citizens Report American Irish Culture

Danahey on the Milwaukee Irish Fest loose

Tom getting travel tips.
Tom getting travel tips.

Best fest buddy Tom and I are heading to Ireland Friday – so keep an eye on our houses, okay? And stay out of his hot tub. The neighbors are still talking about the last time.

In advance of our journey we headed to the Milwaukee Irish Fest this past Saturday to get in a Celtic mood and to check for some last-minute information from booths in the travel zone always set up there.

I should have written down the names of the two restaurants the guy from Galway recommended – but I do have a map with two Xs marking the spots where they are supposed to be off Quay, which rhymes with be, but does not have any sound in common with Galway. You’d know that already if you have been there.

Yeah, I’m confused, which is why we’re getting GPS with the Dan Dooley rental car this time.

We learned a valuable lesson in trusting a GPS too much, though, on our drive to and from Milwaukee, as there apparently were relatively new roadblocks and detours that didn’t make it into the database for the satellite system – which meant we got to see Brookfield on the way home. It seemed a little bit like the one here in Illinois but without a zoo.

GPS or not, why does it always seem so confusing getting out of downtown Milwaukee? And are Wisconsin and Illinois having a contest to see whose road projects will last longer?

Our other trekking adventure involved tracking down where Jack Baker’s Rampant Lion booth was on fest grounds. We heard he was in the Grafton Market across from the Shamrock Club, which seemed like code for Jason Bourne to crack, but was more like finding the LEGO store at Woodfield.

Either way, it all was good practice for driving in Ireland – all of which I am making Tom do. I’m going to call him Hoke and sit in the backseat.

Not the whole time. Only the last few days. The rest of the trip will be with my sister, her husband and their twin son and daughter, who graduated high school in June and who are heading to college in September.

The rest of the time we’re planning to confuse fellow tourists and the natives by telling them in casual conversation that my niece and nephew are fraternal twins, while Tom and I also are twins, too, but with different last names, which is a long story best left for the Maury Povich Show.

Aside from subterfuge, we’re supposed to teach the younguns how to drink – or I think that’s what I heard and which I am approaching with caution. With Irish sprinkled in their DNA party mix along with Russian, I don’t want the evenings to turn into “Eugene O’Neill takes a holiday with Anton Chekhov” – or involve Pavel Chekov from Star Trek, given the recent demise of Anton Yelchin who was playing him in the movie.

Tom and I also are tasked with being the Abbott and Costello/ Hope and Crosby/ Belushi and Aykroyd/ Thelma and Louise of the gathering and with bringing our A-game regarding what we’ve learned about Ireland with us, too. Stuff like you need Euros, not pounds in the Republic, and that nobody takes Discover card.

Thanks be to God for Google and being able to use your smartphone overseas!

But back to Saturday in Milwaukee.

Tourist information from Mid & East Antrim
Tourist information from Mid & East Antrim

I asked at Dooley’s if Ireland has anything like an iPass for its toll system and was told no. I was hoping the one in my Toyota would work around the Shannon and Dublin airports.

A friendly fellow writer from Donegal, Keith Corcoran, suggested I email him and maybe work his part of Ireland into my itinerary. I sent a note, but made no promises as there already are a lot of places that begin with the letter “D” to see on this trip.

Here you go: the nights  of Aug. 27 and 28, we’re having berries in Dingle, the night of Aug. 29 we’re in Doolin, close to the Cliffs of Moher and so my nephew and brother-in-law can golf one of the eight courses they are visiting on their trip and I can see the birthplace of Mary Tyler; the nights of Aug. 30, 31 we’re in Galway where Tom likes the skirts and the skirt steak; the nights of Sept. 1 and 2 it’s over to Dublin, from where my sister and her family head to Scotland.

The nights of Sept, 3 and 4, Tom and I will be at the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy – a place on a bay above a pub, and not far from where they filmed some of the Game of Thrones. They even have a Game of Thrones door, so how, as true American geek tourists, could we not stay there?

Per our visit to Milwaukee Irish Fest, or MIF, as I like to call it, we’re planning to visit Larne, maybe for a fest, maybe for a boat ride around the Gobbins and close to where more Game of Thrones scenery can be found.

The night of Sept. 5, we’re staying at Fitzpatrick Castle in the Dublin suburbs then flying home the next morning.

I’m tired just typing all that. Plus, from my last trip, I remembered my buddy Shay claiming places were closer to each other than they actually were. Maybe it’s a metric conversion issue, because his half hour drive estimate frequently was way longer than than that – though we may have been stuck in some roundabouts, which threw off our sense of time and space.

I think I need a drink – which brings up the most valuable lesson we learned at MIF.

Never, ever, ever, have a Margarita made with Jameson. Slainte.

MIF travel deals
MIF travel deals


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