The ride across the Irish (North) Channel was NOT fun. It wasn’t just expensive at 175 Pounds ($280 Canadian dollars), it was also rough and rocky. As such, I spent the time crossing incredibly motion sick. Motion sickness = no photographing.
Now raining, the ferry was stuffy, steamy and packed with commuters – standing room only. It was only 10:30am but not many of our Irish counterparts were avoiding the bar (you can’t even buy an alcoholic drink at that time here in Canada!).
At the table across from us sat 3 gentlemen who we watched drink 10 beers each – a total of 30 beers arrived to their table before they got back in their cars to drive off of the ferry – just two hours later.
And it wasn’t just the men, a table of rowdy ladies hooted and hollered beside us, rapidly downing their intoxicating beverages, cat calling at every male passer by – including my highly embarrass-able and easily mortified husband who could barely make it back to the table after his hilarious ‘attack’.
It really was more like a college bar than a commuter ferry. Truly it was completely outrageous.
We were a bit paranoid driving off of the ferry with the other drunken passengers.
Here in BC Canada, our drinking and driving laws are so strict that it is possible to ‘blow over’ and lose your license over ONE DRINK. Even I think that is a bit severe – but I am not sure what I think of the practice of serving multiple (10!) drinks to a passenger who is about to drive home.
Of course none of this means I would dare judge the consumption levels of an entire country based on one city (& ferry) and one days visit.
I think Ireland is full of drunks as much as I think Canada is full of igloos and lumberjacks. Sure, we have some – more in certain places than in others – but the country is NOT full of either.
I would soon discover we had arrived the day before the Orange Festival (another story altogether), so perhaps that played a part in the Northern Irish drunkenness we witnessed on the ferry and off.
Whatever the cause, belligerent drunkenness was happening everywhere we turned.
We had considered staying for the Orange Festival, but decided not to at the last minute. Thankfully we didn’t – it would turn into a ferocious riot that would last for days.
In hindsight, after the brutal history that Northern Ireland has barely moved past, you would wonder why a secular religious event would seem like a good idea in the first place.
Why riot? According to cafe babel.co.uk;
“The 2010 riots manifested the aggression of thousands of young people who have grown up in a social climate of profound hatred, have played amongst bomb sites and burnt out streets, are maturing into a society that had lost its economic strength long before the global recession, and yet are daily watching their politicians grin across borders and declare that all their worries are over.”
We got a bite to eat, enjoyed the beauty of the City Hall and the Titanic monument (did you know it was built here?), and walked a few streets before rushing out into the north Irish countryside to make our way to County Clare.
Many additional photos in the slideshow.
- History of Northern Ireland (wikipedia)
- Belfast (wikipedia)
- Orangefest (cutlurenorthernireland.org)
- Ayrshire Language Barrier (Sct ’10 Prt 23) (habitualrunaway.wordpress.com)