One Night in Doolin

Been asked a lot where my Bike Ireland photos are, and I’m working on getting those together.  Until I can get them posted, here’s a story to tide you all over.

Here I sit on my last night of vacation, looking through hundreds of photos that I took on my week long bicycle trip through western Ireland and remembering what a great week it was to experience.  So much to see, new people to meet, and one amazing night in Doolin.

It was my sixth night in Ireland, the fifth of the actual bicycle tour.  Most nights of the tour were spent in different hotels every night, but this was a rare 2nd night staying in the same town & hotel. Doolin is a small town with a pub culture that has a love for live music, and this was right in my wheelhouse.  The first night in Doolin at a pub called McDermotts I was the last of our 18 or-so person group to leave. The second night at Fitz’s most of the group followed suit from the previous night and had cleared out early, but three of us, one being our tour guide John, decided to stick it out as long as the music was playing.

Most of the evening we were entertained by traditional Irish music played by an old-timer guitar player and two ladies–one playing a tin whistle and the other a flute.  The ladies, seemingly rather young, were only there until about 10 or 11 and then had to leave.  The guitar player kept playing on after they left, however.  He was funny; he sang happy songs, sad songs, Irish songs, American folk songs… the guy was an encyclopedia of musical knowledge. “Fields of Athenry” was my personal favorite of the evening, a request from John.

As the old man continued to play his guitar, the crowd began to dwindle.  Eventually all that was left were an older couple at the bar who seemed to be locals, a couple from Australia, two ladies from Canada, another couple from the States (can’t recall from where), the guitar player, the bartender, and those of us from our bike tour including myself, tour guide John, and a fellow from California named Jeff.

At one point, the bartender goes and turns off the light out over the front door and locked it so noone else could come in.  Meanwhile, the guitar player kept playing.

The bartender started to pick up the bar stools and turn over the chairs that weren’t occupied. The guitar player kept playing and singing.

Mind you, all this time, pints kept flowing as well.

The bartender then picked up his mop and swept the floor around the guitar player, who kept playing and singing.  Tour guide John was singing along as well.  There was even a bit of dancing as well.

The bartender finished his closing-time duties, poured himself a pint, walked over near the guitar player, pulled up a stool and sat and listened like the rest of us.  The guitar player kept playing.

The local couple sitting at the bar started to make their way out, but before they reached the door, the old man stopped by the guitar player, grabbed the instrument and played a couple songs before excusing himself and his wife for the evening.

The guitar player even sang a few songs without the guitar.

There was singing and laughing and good times by all.  It went on until quarter to five in the morning when the guitar player said he didn’t have the voice to play any more for the evening.

The bartender let us out and locked the door behind us.  John chaperoned the Canadian ladies home to make sure they made it there safely while Jeff & I stumbled down the block back to the hotel our group was staying at while in Doolin.  We got there and walked up to the door and it was locked.

No key card access to swipe our keys or anything in sight.  On the door, a sign said “For after-hours assistance, call this number…”  I called it and through the glass door I could hear the phone ringing in the lobby and see a light flashing on the phone at the desk.  No one was there to pick it up.

A few minutes of “what the hell do we do now?” passed.  I thought when John would get back we’d have to sleep in the bike tour van the rest of the night.  Eventually, I remembered my room was on the ground floor on the other side of the hotel.  Earlier that day, I had cracked open the window for some fresh air in the room, and noticed the window didn’t have any screens.  So we grabbed a chair from the hotel patio, walked around to my window, pushed open the window as wide as it would open, and boosted myself up on the chair & I crawled into my hotel room through that window.  I don’t think it was a clean landing inside the window, but no bones were broken.  I walked through my room, down the hall, across the lobby and opened the door from the inside to let in Jeff and John (who had just returned from walking the Canadians home and missed out on all the improvising).

Luckily, we took the next day off the bikes and had a boat ride out to the Aran Islands for a non-cycling tour day instead, or else we would have been in huge trouble on two hours sleep having to bicycle 30 more miles like we’d normally done. Thankfully, the waters were still and not choppy at all, or else it could have been a messy ride.

So, aside from all the amazing things I’d seen of the western Irish countryside and coastline, that night was probably the highlight of my trip.  But don’t fret, pictures are coming soon…

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