One of the items that I noticed during my travels is the difference in how pubs are staffed versus restaurants.  Although my sample is only 13, it seemed rather obvious.  The wait staff in pubs is Irish.  The wait staff in restaurants is foreign (mostly European). 

Since The Republic of Ireland is part of the EU, which of course means that worker relocation is relatively easy.  This fluidity of workers, combined with the loss of Irish youth (see an earlier post) combined with the drive for higher education and avoidance of service jobs my particularly explain the need for additional workers and why they come from Europe.

However, this does not explain why the division between pubs and restaurants.  I suspect that it may have to do with the different roles that pubs and restaurants play.  A pub is a place for social gathering.  Unlike a bar, food seems to be an integral part of what they do.  As a social place, it would require a wait staff that people are comfortable with, understand the culture, and can interact at deeper and lengthier levels.  In my way of thinking the scripts/social interaction and understanding required in a pub are much more complex than that required in a restaurant.  

Restaurants on the other hand, have a much simpler script that tends to be more universal(?).    The dining experience is much more focused on the food than the social interaction. 

My experience is that although it is not stated, there are clear demarcations between the two. Restaurants are clearly defined as an eating establishment.  Restaurants typically serve wine (and some beer) but lacks hard liquor (except for the coffee bar, which allows for Irish coffees and other flavors).  In locations where a traditional physical bar is co-located, the name of the establishment often will differentiate the two (XXX bar and bistro).  The term pub seems to be primarily reserved for what would traditional be called a bar (with usually a very good kitchen attached).  

p>Galway – May 25, 2014 – When we returned to Galway, we spent the evening at a performance entitled Trad on the Prom.  The performance is an evening of traditional and modern Irish music, dance, and song.  The cast is a collection of whose who of Irish music.  You can check out the Website form more information at www.tradontheprom.com.  Many of the performers are alumni of such famous productions as Riverdance, Celtic Women, Lord of the Dance, and touring with groups such as the Chieftains.  The dancers have 18 world titles among them.  It was an amazing performance.  

Galway – May 21, 2014 – I feel like I am on the Flying Dutchmen from Pirates of the Caribbean fame with barnacles and other see life becoming attached. 

Rain, rain, everywhere, and soaked to the bone.  We have been in Ireland for six days.  It has rained most of the five of the six says.  If it keeps up I am going to grow barnacles. 

The locals have been complaining about the weather as well.  I am not sure why.  It rains at least part of 270 days a year.  If it is raining, the Irish apologize for the weather.  If it is sunny, they thank you for bringing the good weather.

Weather forecasts seem to always be the same: sunny with a chance of rain or rain with a chance of sun.  So, it is always getting cloudy or it is always clearing up.  All looks the same to me.   The result is that there is stuff growing on everything.  If there is a crack in a wall or a flat space to trap a seed, something is growing.  Most of the rocks and many of the trees have lichen or moss growing.  There is a lot of green. 

Although I it is not about rain, my next observation is about water.  Taking a shower in Ireland has been an experience.  Belfast was fine – no problems.  In Corrymeela, someone left the shower on all night.  My shower in the morning was ice cold.  I was probably the coldest shower I have ever tried to take.  In Derry, the shower was two square feet.  In Galway, the first stay, the shower was push button (you could not adjust the temperature) and it was scalding.  I resorted to catching the water in a glass, letting it cool, and then using it.  In the Aran Islands, the first shower I tried to take, there was no water pressure.  The second worked fine (but was only three square feet).  Back in Galway, I finally had a shower that was the appropriate temperature.  In both Kinvara and Ballyvaughan, the showers had a control that I had never seen before.  You could take a bath and use the traditional hot and water controls.  For the shower, there were separate controls; one to turn the water on and the other to adjust the temperature.  We shall see what comes next.

Inish Mor– Aran Islands  May 24, 2014 – Traveling to the Aran Islands is like being in the Tartus.  You are going back in time.  The Aran Islands are three Islands at the bottom of Galway bay, separating the bay from the Atlantic Ocean.  It is the definition of windswept.  The Island is a monument to the tenacity of person kind.  The island originally had no soil on it.  It was rock.  Over the centuries, the inhabitants of the Island have moved the rocks to form dry rock walls, and mixed sand with seaweed to create soil.  The result is a landscape of small pastures and fields.


The island has 13 “villages”.  Really clusters of houses surrounded by fields.  There are 120 families that live on Inish Mor (about 720 residents).  The Island has received about 2500 visitors a day during the peak tourist season.  However most of them come for a few hours.  They really miss the true nature of the island.   

Our host, Sean, runs an activity center on the Island that has several multipurpose rooms and can accommodate small to medium-sized groups.  As part of the services, he provides meals (continental and Irish breakfast, hearty lunches and dinners).  Sean was very accommodating and made sure that I got to see the entire island from the East to the West. 

While on the Island I got to see churches.  I am not sure it is an exaggeration but I think it was 14 churches in total, seven in one spot.  The  Aran Islands once upon a time were considered the Islands of scholars and priests (we are talking 8th/9th century).  There are at least two people buried in one of the graveyards who were on a pilgrimage from Rome (that would be ancient Rome) at the time of their death.  There are also a hundred plus year old lighthouse, multiple forts, and at least two 3500-year old promontory forts (places people could go in case of an attack, but were not setup for permanent residence).   

Galway – May 20, 2014 - The slogan for Galway should be the “City of Pubs”.  There is something about sitting in a pub that opened in 1649.  I am not sure that we have a building that is still standing that was built that long ago. The inner city was what I had expected to find In Ireland; narrow streets with interesting shops and pubs. 

The King's Head has an interesting history.  The executioner of James I, deposed King of Engand, took the money he was paid to chop off the head of the king to open this pub (in 1649).

What was interesting about Galway is that it does not “celebrate” it old building.  In many cities, historic buildings and walls are preserved.  In Galway, the old buildings have for the most part disappeared (there only a few sections remaining (and one section is build into a new shopping mall).  The city castles have been rebuilt (probably multiple times) and become banks (Lynch Castle), or other city buildings (Blake’s Castle). 

We kept running into American’s in Galway; American’s on busses in groups.  American’s living in Galway.  Americans backpacking across Europe. According to one report, there are oer 50 million Americans that claim Irish ancestors.  

Four things I noted:  First, the Irish as about as loud as Americans.  Second, the Irish drink a lot of beer (I have never seen as many beer kegs outside pubs as I have in Galway).  Third, the Irish like to talk.  Everywhere you go, people want to know about you.  Where are you from?  What are you doing in Ireland? Etc.  Fourth, just about anything to do with pork is called bacon.  A rack of bacon is a pork chop.

Besides the beer, I have enjoyed the seafood.  Coming from the Midwest, where seafood is often frozen fish sticks, it is really nice to get fresh fish.  Salmon caught fresh from Galway bay.  Seafood chowder made with smoked haddock and local mussels.  Sea Bass farm raised from Greece.  A lobster risotto that had probably the best lobster I have ever tasted.  It is no wonder that Drew and I spend 100 Euros on lunch one day.  I even finally broke down and ate some fish and chips.  And of course I had to consume lots of Guinness to wash it all down.