Durty Nellie’s Pub in County Clare, Ireland. I learned the greatest lesson on travel at this venerable old bar. Now Durty Nellie’s is a tourist trap with its close proximity to Bunratty Castle and there’s nothing wrong with that. But you’ll still find in the back a small bar where a traditional Irish session will occasionally play. It was in this part I received my pub etiquette lesson. A less touristy bar may not have been as instructive.
My wife and I celebrating our second anniversary (some 20 years ago). We arrived at Shannon airport and booked a B&B which by luck was near Durty Nellie’s. On arriving to the pub there were several pre-teens wailing and canvassing the tourists, looking for donations, contorting their faces and looking as pathetic as possible. We entered the main room and I asked about these poor unfortunates, the woman in charge laughed “Oh those little devils, lookin for some bob, would you be havin dinner?” We decided to have our first drink in Ireland in the less crowded bar in the back.
I made the first and sometimes fatal mistake of an American tourist–I was excited and wanted to tell everyone: The O’Shea’s are in Ireland! There are several lads at the bar and I’m asking about things and they’re polite enough, when I see an old man at a table gesturing me to his table. I go over,still excited about finally visiting the olde sod, and these words of wisdom, which I have kept first in my mind on every trip since, are spoken——-
“You might enjoy yourself more if you just sit down with your pretty bride and enjoy your drink.”
I realized at that moment I was a touristy tourist, a New Yorker in Cape Cod, a Masshole, a flatlander, pick your tourist slur for your region. BUT, I took his advice, and sat down with my wife and had a conversation, went back to the bar for pint #2 and a glass for Maureen, and talked about where we would go and see, and then went back to the bar for pint #3.
As the barman served the creamy pint, one of the lads I had tried to infringe upon earlier leaned over and said “It’s good to see you can follow directions, there is some music comin in. Would you and your wife like to join us?” I asked them if it wasn’t any trouble we would, the rest of the night was a lot of fun along with some good natured teasing.
So remember tourist are nice when they follow the local customs -see pub etiquette_. Cheers.