On a blustery and rainy Holy Thursday, we boarded the Stena Europe for our journey back to Ireland. We were sad to leave Wales, a country we thoroughly enjoyed, but were excited about the last leg of our trip.
We situated ourselves in the bar area for the three and a half hour journey to Rosslare. The bar area was filled with rugby players ready for some serious partying. Not wanting to feel like an outsider, I decided to have a beer too. Passing on the Stella, Carlsberg, etc., I decided to drink a couple of our Welsh beers. Procuring a half pint glass from the bar, I pulled out a bottle of Evan Evans Cwrw from bag.
Then the seasickness set in. It was quite a rough ride and between the feelings of queasiness, all I could think was how can a 25 ton ship could rock and roll this much. Halfway through the journey, I did get sick, though I give myself credit for being able to actually make it to the toilet. Not everyone could make that claim. Merideth didn’t have the greatest journey either but the ‘protector of the sea’, that is what Merideth means, never had to make the trip to the toilet.
After almost four hours at sea, we finally landed at Rosslare. Back on dry land but still feeling queasy, we climbed into a taxi to take us to our hotel in Wexford.
We wanted to find an off license in Wexford town to see the Holy Thursday phenomenon. Because Good Friday is dry, the Irish, apparently, go on a alcohol buying frenzy the day before. We wanted to see this for our own eyes and the video camera. But we couldn’t find an off license so our Holy Thursday ended with us sitting in the hotel bar enjoying a few Guinness and watching football on the TV.
Good Friday was the most anticipated day of our trip. If not the most anticipated, it was certainly the most talked about. What were we going to do on a dry day in Ireland? The answer was act like normal tourists.
Picking up a rental car, we headed down to Hook Head. On the southeast coast, Hook Head is home to the oldest working lighthouse in the world. Like normal tourists we took a tour of the 800 year old lighthouse which was the first non-brewery tour we have taken in a long time.
Then it was on to Cork.
There are ways to get around the Good Friday alcohol ban. Besides the obvious answer of drinking the stockpile of booze bought the previous day, there are a couple of other options. The taxi driver in Wexford told us that groups of friends will take the ferry over the to the UK and back; sort of a booze cruise. For us, another ferry ride was definitely not an option.
We also heard that some pubs are discretely open and a secret knock will get you in the back door. We never saw any evidence of this or rather, we were never invited.
Finally, hotels are allowed to serve alcohol to residents after 6pm with a meal.
So when the magical hour struck, we joined quite a large contingent of residents of our Cork city hotel in the bar. It felt all very secretive as our name and room number was checked by one of the hotel staff. To make the atmosphere complete, they drew down the shades so outsiders wouldn’t be drawn in by the sight of alcohol and merriment. Our very first dry Good Friday in Ireland ended for us in the hotel bar with our pints of Beamish Stout.