There are so many things I didn’t realize I would love about Dublin when I agreed to move here nearly seven years ago. For instance, I hadn’t a clue that one of my favorite things are the long Irish summer evenings. We certainly suffer through very short Irish winter days, but our reward comes night after night in June and July in the form of sunsets at 9:30pm, leaving light in the sky until well after 11.
The long nights sneak up on you. Before you even realize it, it’s 10pm and you haven’t even started making dinner!
Last week, Michael and I hopped in the car around nine and headed north of the city to our favourite little chipper by the sea, Piper’s in Portrane (pronounced port-ran, oddly). It’s well below under the radar, I’m sure about 95% of its customers live in the little town. We always get a few sideways looks when we walk in. But it’s our favorite fish and chips, and the best value we’ve ever found. Just €10 for a giant plate of fresh cod and chips, which was more than enough for two of us to share. In fact, we couldn’t even finish the last of the salt and vinegar sprinkled chips.
We discovered the chipper eight years ago when I was visiting Michael for the first time in Dublin, the year after we graduated from college. Michael had come back to Dublin after graduation to spend the summer working before heading to southern Spain to play professional basketball for the year. It’s so funny to think back on that time. Dublin still felt so far away from Maine, like another world. When we had to say goodbye to each other, I never really knew if I would see Michael again. We talked on Skype nearly every day, and we wrote each other emails and letters I saved in a folder, but the geographical distance still felt so vast. Needless to say, goodbyes during that phase were an ordeal! Little did I know, or even allow myself to hope, that we would be engaged just four months later and married almost a year to the day later. Life is the funniest, especially in retrospect.
I came to Dublin in August before Michael moved to Spain (without knowing a lick of Spanish!) for my first visit to the city. I had been to Ireland before, but only to the wilds of the west coast with my family when I was about fourteen. During that visit, we stayed in a family friend’s mobile home by the sea for a few days and discovered this little chipper just a walk down the road. Other than a pub, conveniently located only a hundred meters from the chipper, there’s very little else in the town other than a long, blue-flag beach.
I’m not the biggest connoisseur of fish and chips, but I dare say these are the best going. We’ve since brought family and friends to confirm that it’s not just the sweet memories making the fish taste so delicious. If you make it to Piper’s, ignore (or appreciate?) the baffling mixture of Native American and clown decor and head straight for the pony-tailed curmudgeon behind the counter. Order fresh cod and chips, when it arrives ten minutes later, sprinkle on a generous dose of salt and vinegar. Ask for an extra plate, there’s no hope you’ll be able to finish it on your own.
Then walk it off. We certainly had to!
The beach is wide and long, especially at low tide. And we were the only souls there, which is exactly how I remember it from eight years ago.
(In case of a water emergency, just send someone a half mile from the shore to find the life preserver in the bushes!)
Michael was cracking up, telling me about the kangaroos that live out on Lambay Island. Kangaroos? Turns out they’re wallabees, as confirmed by the interwebs, which is equally perplexing.
Hope you’re all enjoying the longest of these summer days, wherever you may be.