By our fourth day in Ireland we had amassed a number of questions about this strange and mystical land.
Among those questions:
What is craic? We kept hearing this word in varying contexts – keep in mind it’s pronounced “crack”. For example, someone would say, “what’s the craic?” or “that was some good craic!” – but no pipes or spoons in sight. In any case, everyone in Ireland seems to be looking for this stuff. We figured we could spend the rest of our trip figuring out the answers to this and our growing list of Ireland questions.
Last night we added another successful AirBNB notch to our belts, this time in the historical town of Cobh (pronounced Cove). Cobh is a small village but not without a certain roughness, which I attributed to the town’s somewhat tragic history. It was the Titanic’s last port of call before hitting the iceberg, and now there is a museum and a restaurant on the spot where the ill-fated passengers last stood on terra firma. The bells of the majestic and imposing St. Canice’s Cathedral chime every fifteen minutes, which is pleasant in the morning but incredibly spooky at night.
On certain streets in Cobh, if you squinted, you could almost be in San Francisco. One particularly steep and narrow street is lined with houses painted different pastel colours. The similarities end there, however. For one thing, Cobh is home to small gangs of the most good-natured roving hooligans you could ever hope to meet. One group of three thoroughly drunk but jovial young men became a familiar sight as we strolled around the tiny town in the evening – we first encountered them in front of the cathedral, then bumped into them by the chipper, then crossed paths in front of multiple pubs. Each time they had reached new heights of inebriation, but were no less pleasant and polite in enthusiastically greeting us. As we headed up the hill just past midnight, we looked down to spot them running around on the pier below, screaming gibberish into the night sky.
As we were too late for dinner at a proper restaurant, it seemed like a good time to sample the wares of a local chipper. Except that we had no idea what a chipper was. After querying some friendly teenagers we figured out that a chipper is simply a fast food joint, and that we many to choose from. I had my first curried chip, which tasted great but probably wasn’t the best idea in the end. The surly-looking Middle-Eastern guys running the chipper warmed up to us when we asked them to explain what an off-license is and why it’s called that way. “We know it’s a shop that sells liquor. That much we know. But why?” They had no answers.
The lovely house we stayed in looked out on Cork Harbour, and we had a most pleasant breakfast with our hostess before skipping town once again. She’s from the northern town of Sligo, and a veritable wealth of information on pretty much everything I wanted to know. When she asked innocently whether we were in the mood for some craic, we seized the opportunity to find out what the hell she meant without having to google it like chumps. Turns out that while it’s difficult to define in any certain terms, it basically just kinda means ‘fun’. Well, if that’s the case, pass the pipe, cause we’re addicted!
Of course this means we’ll probably have a craic baby.