“You can’t order Guinness in Cork!”
My second faux pas, and we’d been there for less than an hour. On arrival, my partner Isacco and I bundled ourselves into a taxi, having loaded up our bags and asked to be taken to the Glen Ross Guest House.
“Oh, you won’t be wanting to go there,” the taxi driver chortled.
“Why on earth not?” I asked, visions of flea-ridden mattress, rancid stains and the aftermath of drunken debauchery racing through my mind.
“It’s over there,” he pointed smugly.
Certainly in need of a pint, we wandered into The Cork Arms after establishing ourselves in our thankfully clean, respectable lodgings.
After rectifying my mistake by ordering Cork’s finest, a pint of Murphy’s, Lawrence the landlord began to twinkle. I nodded and gestured earnestly; failing to confess I was having real trouble understanding a word he was saying since he was swallowing vowels at the rate I was sipping my pint. Five minutes later we were being photographed pulling pints behind the bar, had been introduced to a badger puppet called Ralph, and had befriended the entire pub’s clientele who launched into an enthusiastic Elvis sing-a-long, and it’ was only four o’clock in the afternoon.
The locals were all brimming with advice, don’t visit Blarney (too many Americans), go to the English Market (The Queen’s been there), forget Dublin, Cork’s the real capital of Ireland. Having blundered enough for one day, I didn’t let on we’d just come from there. Despite warnings about the unhygienic nature of the Blarney Stone, I was convinced they must all have kissed it at least ten times. With the excuse of foraging for sustenance we made our escape, faithfully promising to stop back in again later.