June 2003, Republic of Ireland
I'd been living in Kilkenny for about two years and was cracking up to get out of town for a few days. I headed west on Bue Éireann without a plan.
I had a destination goal, but it wasn't a firm target, and I haven't been there yet.I was going to go to Staigue Fort on the "Ring of Kerry" peninsula, but my path diverted.
I got a bus to Killarney. In Killarney off the bus, I met a lad from Wicklow. Eoin was just on a bit of a nondescript journey as well I think he had freshly graduated university. Anyhow, we agreed we'd go for a pint after checking in to the nearby hostel.
The woman at the desk said that there would be no places to sleep anywhere in town the following night, a Friday and the date of a large sold-out musical event.
Eoin and I spent the evening visiting different pubs until closing time. We probably traded rounds in six or seven establishments proper tourists.
We talked about the weekend. Eoin had a tent and wanted to see the show that following evening. I had to move on, somewhere. Eoin said he'd been thinking of going a bit north and returning the next day. He suggested we go have a pint in Tralee.
For me having no plan Tralee was as good as any place.
Tralee is a different kind of place not Killarney (which is outstandingly friendly, surprisingly genuine although a major locus for tourism.)
Tralee is rough. It's not a pretty place. No matter the "Rose of Tralee" beauty contest heritage no matter the rose garden. Tralee is rough. I don't know if it's violent-rough. It's just got a rough characteristic to it. Its features, its feel, have no particular grace. Just my impression. it's a working town.
Anyhow, Eoin and I struggled with a few uncomfortable pubs before we found one to stay in for a while. It was a doozy, too.