Road to Belfast
corey says…Liam dropped Laurie & CJ at the airport. I picked him up, and from there we began our trip to Belfast. Our plan to take some side roads and avoid Dublin kind of backfired when two funerals, an abundance of gardi (police) and loads of road construction caused a lot of detours.
While on detour, we drove through Naas where the funerals were taking place. The funerals were for two Irish travelers. Irish travelers (sometimes referred to as Tinkers) are a part of Irish society that most tourists would only know from the caravans many of them live in on the side of the roads.
I haven’t had much interaction with travelers, so I can’t shed too much light on the topic, but I do know that many Irish don’t have too much day-to-day interaction with Irish travelers.
After we drove through at least four Gardi traffic stops, we stopped for lunch outside of Naas. There, we found the doors to the pub/restaurant locked. There were people inside, but no way to get in. As we walked to the car, the publican opened the door and asked if we were looking for lunch.
He invited us in and simply said, “We’re closed for reasons.” It was an unusual phrase, and the he delivered it in a “don’t ask questions” manner. By the time our food arrived, we started piecing together the pieces.
We overheard someone say, “they’re expecting a shooting with the funeral.” We didn’t ask any questions, but it sounded as if these funerals might have a rough backstory.
This pub wasn’t too far from the funeral…and our assessment was that the publican didn’t want his pub to be one of the stops after the funeral…whether it was to avoid being involved with a “shooting” or just getting trashed by mourners going there after the funeral. Being “closed” was the only way to avoid it.
It was a bit awkward…was this discrimination or a publican protecting his investment or were we misreading the situation. We didn’t spend much time there to find out. This was truly an unusual situation to come upon while traveling.
Train to Belfast
We headed onward…through more construction and hedge-trimming until we got back on the main roads. We had to bypass a lot of great sites Trim, Hill of Tara, Slane and many more to finish our trip to Belfast.
When we arrived in Dundalk, we easily found the train station. We decided we didn’t need a car in Belfast, and after all the driving of the day, the train would suit us very well.
A Belfast Welcome
The train ride was swift and we were in city centre in an hour and 15 minutes. This was our first visit to Belfast, and our first impression was “clean.” The train station was clean and the streets to our hotel were clean. Oddly, there were also no people on the streets, but this could be a combination of it being 8:30pm and that tomorrow was a bank holiday.
Our welcome at the hotel was one of the best. The reception staff was quick to welcome us, and covered everything from sites to breakfast to where to visit tonight. We went for a walk toward the Botanical Gardens where there were several restaurants and interesting buildings and people bustling about. Very enjoyable.