BerksBarristerSpring2017 - 12
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The Three Things I Learned
During My Weekend in Ireland
By Matthew M. Setley, Esquire
oors Light is the most popular
beer in Ireland and Northern
Ireland. I know that sounds
absurd, and maybe I am a small sample for
the study of the 2017 beer pulse of Ireland,
but if you are at least not suspicious of
whether the Coors Light party train runs
directly to Ireland, then you don't really
And I understand Ireland. I spent
seventy-two hours there in March 2017.
So, I know Ireland. At least enough to
know this: Ireland and Northern Ireland
are as cold as the Rockies, metaphorically
speaking. That is the first main fact I
learned about Ireland on my trip.
And how did I end up traveling to
the Emerald Isle? About three weeks prior
to leaving, my friend from Stetson Law
School, Ken, texted me about taking a
trip to Ireland for the weekend to see some of the bars of Ireland;
neither of us had ever been. The plan would be to bookend nights
in Belfast with two nights in Dublin, taking the train to Belfast.
The kicker: while in Belfast we would stay in Europe's most
bombed hotel, The Europa.1 Who could turn down such an offer?
After not sleeping on the plane, and being so tired that we had a
difficult time explaining to the Irish customs officer what the exact
length of our stay in Ireland would be and where we were staying,
we headed to The Shelbourne hotel in the middle of Dublin on
St. Stephen's Green.2 I knew Stephanie Hager, of Stevens & Lee,
once lived in Ireland and the choice of The Shelbourne came on
her high recommendation.
The Shelbourne is a niche high-end hotel with a few nice
bars. It has an incredibly storied history, including being occupied
goo.gl/xtM44q Link to a BBC documentary on The Europa.
The Customs Officer was able to guess Shelbourne even though Ken explained that we were staying at the "Sherbet."
Four hours into the trip I still believed that Guinness was wildly popular among the Irish.
12 | Berks Barrister
by the British during the 1916 Easter
Rising; however, on multiple occasions,
we were told stories about the Hotel's
history by the Hotel's staff, and every
story related to chaos caused by multiple
visiting rugby teams over the past century.
At least three separate stories were told to
us; one involving a fire extinguisher and
another involving destruction of rooms on
a scale that required a complete remodeling
of the rooms. There was so much pride
surrounding the rugby incidents that
the Hotel had a copy of a bill sent to the
South African Rugby Club framed in
the lobby. Needless to say, for such fancy
accommodations, the staff of the Hotel was
having a fun time.
Regardless of our lack of sleep, and the
couple of Guinness3 we had upon arriving
at the Hotel, Ken and I had arranged for a
tour of the Irish Parliament for our first day and we were dead-set
on keeping these plans. First, the Irish Parliament does not allow
for photography, which was kind of a bummer. Second, I fell asleep
sitting in the chamber, so the prohibition on photography probably
wasn't that relevant. Third, the Irish Parliament building is pretty
much a museum of tributes to the United States.
In 1963, John F. Kennedy delivered an address to the Irish
Parliament. In anticipation of his speech, an entire second level
was added to one of the Building's wings. Upon learning this,
I assumed that the reason was half due to J.F.K. being the U.S.
President, and half because he was the first Catholic President.
However, upon continuing the tour, it was clear that Irish politics,
even if only symbolically, are very focused on America's politics. I'll
count this as the second thing I learned about Ireland on my trip.
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