After spending a wet couple of hours at King John’s Castle in Limerick, we drove up the road to Ennis for the evening. Before we’d settled on an itinerary for our weekend away, I’d researched a few things we could do while in County Clare. After reading about Ennis, regarded as Ireland’s friendliest city and one of the traditional music capitals of the country, I figured we should make it a priority to visit.
We drove in around 3 p.m. and after trying to find parking in the city center for about 20 minutes, finally found a spot along the river. We called Alan’s mom at 3:30 p.m. for our daily update on his dad’s progress, and then we settled in for our touring. We walked around for a bit, exploring the more popular pedestrian streets. One thing I noticed right away was the public art on display throughout the city. We found a sign that provided a guided walking tour with the names of the sculptures but there wasn’t a lot of information at each sculpture to tell you about it. I would have loved to see some signage displayed throughout the walk and not just at the beginning. Unfortunately, it also started to rain pretty heavily and steadily and so we made our way back into the center of town. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite make it before we were pretty much drenched and I was starting to get cold so we tried to find a place to pop in for a coffee or tea. Finally we found the perfect place – a little shop called Tea Cosy. They had exactly one scone left which I quickly laid claim to, while Alan ordered a Victorian sponge cake filled with strawberry jam. We sat there for a little over an hour while the tea warmed us and our clothes dried off a bit.
Past experience has taught us that most trad sessions don’t start until after 10 p.m. and since it was only 6:30 p.m. by that point, we asked our waitress where we could go to kill some time before eating dinner and then catching a session. She recommended a pub down the street called Taylor’s and we promptly made our way over. When we walked in we were greeting by a warm fire and the absolute most adorable modern pub I’ve ever seen. If I was going to open a pub, that’s what I’d want it to look like. The only downside was the music. With the exception of Hozier’s “Someone New” every other song that came on was horrible. Y’all remember the Call Me Maybe chickadee? Well, her new song goes a little something like this:
“I really really really really really really like you
And I want you, do you want me, do you want me, too?
I really really really really really really like you
And I want you, do you want me, do you want me, too?”
I seriously thought it was by the same guy who produced that “Friday” song. Looking at the bar man, there was absolutely no way he could have been enjoying that music. I almost wanted to ask about connecting to their Bluetooth and letting him use my Spotify playlists because wow. One song after another was insipid drivel meant to deaden your soul. That Hozier song must have been snuck in there.
After hanging out there, we walked back to the other side of town for dinner at Cruise’s Pub, a place I’d read had some of the better trad sessions in the city. We were excited to see them advertising a trad session at 8:30 p.m. so we ordered some beer and pints to settle in. There was a couple sitting near us from Washington, DC who were stranded in Ireland due to the snow storm (Jonas) that was hitting the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and our waiter thought we were suffering the same fate. Seems getting Americans in isn’t a common occurrence? I ended up having a Hermione Granger moment when the man asked the bartender about a whiskey and he admitted to not really knowing anything about whiskey. What kind of Irish bar man doesn’t know anything about whiskey?! I mean, this was pretty basic too. I was practically sitting on my hands while Alan laughed at me because he knew I wanted to interrupt and provide the information. (Incidentally, they were asking about Jameson’s Black Barrel, one of my favorite everyday Irish whiskies.) One of the things we really enjoyed about Cruise’s is the fact they had their own specialty beer on tap – it’s not available anywhere else in the world – that was pretty decent. The trad session was advertised as starting at 8:30 p.m. but it was closer to 9 p.m. when they arrived and they didn’t actually start playing until about 9:20. But what players they were! I always love it when a trad session includes the uilleann pipes, which this one did. We hung out for about an hour listening to music and then left to head back to the hotel, which turned into a bit of an adventure.
And that, my friends, wraps up our evening in Ennis, County Clare.