Austin, Texas.

Hear ye, hear ye! Throwback Thursday is upon us, and another tale of debaucherous depravity and wholesome bonding needs to be shared! Read this account of four glorious days in the sweltering Texas heat and laugh at stories of falling asleep where I shouldn’t have and Tom pantsing himself in a busy bar on sixth street.

At the beginning of the year, the lads and I would often find ourselves discussing where we would like to spend a vacation over the summer. We decided to go on a group holiday at some stage during the year, eventually settling for our friend John’s thirtieth birthday. With Brian also moving to San Fran just before the summer months, we thought somewhere hot, close to us both and most importantly, fun, would suffice.
Austin, Texas, would be our destination. I had a friend who lived in Austin for a year or two and everyone else had also heard good things. We got a group of ten of us to sign a blood pact that we would all definitely go. Two dropped out and mysteriously disappeared. Strange how things happen like that.
No, in all seriousness, a group of eight was perfect. We booked our flights, Tom booked the Air BnB and we spent the next few months talking about the craic that we were going to have in Texas.

As all good Irish citizens do, we went out the night before our early morning flight and got absolutely hammered. I stumbled back to the apartment at 4:30 AM Friday morning to find all the lads in either a state of unconsciousness or zombie-like packing. It wasn’t a pretty sight but we ordered an Uber and made the flight.
My hangover kicked in just as we entered Austin, so the first thing on the metaphorical menu and the only thing on the restaurant menu, was sandwiches and beers. After wolfing these down we made our way to our apartments that Tom had booked. A tip of the cap to Tom because the two rooms were unreal. All we were going to use the rooms for was for small reprieves from drinking. There was a pool in the complex right outside our doors. Our neighbors who sat outside their door observing the action were smoking weed so we knew they probably wouldn’t mind our excessive drinking and partying.
After a bite to eat at the Haymaker pub across the road and a dip in the pool along with multiple bottles and cans, we Uber’d our way to 6th street. The only way I can describe 6th street for any people from Cork who haven’t been to Austin is that it resembles Grand Parade and Washington St. on a weekend night. Except it is like this all the time. Madness. Carnage. Beautiful.
Despite our tired limbs and minds after over twenty four hours on the sesh, we soldiered on. I fell asleep outside some apartment block and awoke to a very angry man shouting down at me from his window to, “Move! We don’t like people sleeping on our sidewalk!” I never thought you did sir. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate. Please excuse me and have a wonderful night.
I somehow got back to the complex to find the door wouldn’t open, and I may have had some choice words for my dear friend James when he tried to tell me what the problem was. I apologise James. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate, and am a grumpy bastard when I am rudely awoken from my sidewalk slumber.

Saturday was a brilliant day. We all had a bit of sleep and crossed over to the Haymaker again for a bit of grub. From there we made our way to a gun range just outside the city. I had never been to one before and I don’t mind saying that even with all of the safety talks and assurances that once we respected the gun and the rules that everything would be O.K., as soon as I held one in my hand I was absolutely shitting myself. Not literally. There’s a code to uphold in these places and of course, the man code*, but I was apprehensive. We all took turns on the different firearms. For the life of me I can’t recall any of their names bar the Uzi. What I do remember is I didn’t have a bad shot. None of us did. We all came away with a bit more confidence in our shooting. All except for John. He knew what he was doing. I’m not being sound because it was his birthday trip, it’s just the truth. John turned the gun sideways, held it in one hand and put out a gangland hit on the head of the target. The next sheet came out and John shot him six times in the throat. That target had a fucking family John, and you couldn’t even give him an open casket.
6th street was the port of call again that night and it was epic. We were familiar with a few of the bars from the previous night and familiarised ourselves with a few more. In one such bar we were dancing with a group of girls. There was eight of us and five of them. Not to be crass, but the odds were looking good for us boys, even just to have a group of girls for drinking buddies for a portion of the night. Enter Tom. I have a few memories etched into my brain from the weekend but the one that sticks out the most is this. Our two groups had widened into a circle, letting one of us after the other enter the center and display our moves. Tom leaned into my ear and said “Will I take off my pants?”. I immediately responded no, and laughed it off, looking back at the group. Seconds later, almost as if in slow motion, Tom had strutted by me, taking his place in the centre and proceeded to drop his trousers. Never in my life had I been so surprised and it seems so too were the girls as they screamed and ran to the other end of the bar. No exaggeration. They literally screamed and ran away. Anyways, Tom is a legend.
Nobody fell asleep on any sidewalks. A stripclub was visited but nobody fell aleep there, thank God.

We booked a boat party for the Sunday afternoon. None of us packed enough sunscreen and we each came away with savage burns but it was worth it. Out in the depths of lake Austin we drank copious amounts of beer and flirted with the girls on the next boat over. We had our own boat for the eight of us driven by a lovely man whose name I can’t recall, but as we glided over the water and passed by extravagant houses, I knew we had made the right choice in coming to Austin.
We saw other boats in the distance and we blasted ‘Westmeath Bachelor’ by the late, great Joe Dolan as we neared them. I’m sure they thought a tribe of gypsies had commandeered a boat and were taking over.
‘2002’ by Anne-Marie and ‘Shotgun’ by George Ezra played on repeat the whole day. I often wake up in a cold sweat with the chorus of Shotgun reverberating around my skull. I haven’t slept properly in months.

Taking a break from 6th street, we chose Rainy street for our last night. I arrived late because the tiredness, a.k.a, booze, caught up with me and I took an impromptu nap. We had a great last night, made better by the fact that myself and John got the Uber driver to drive to a diner. We got some feed and he charged us a bomb!

As with any trip, it was a sombre last day. Brian went back to Cali, the rest of us went back to New York and I went straight to work. My prayers had evidently not been answered as the building was still standing and I had to work the night shift. That was a tough shift to work as I just wished that I was back soaking up the sun, smoking too many cigarettes and getting as drunk as could be with the lads. All the spectacular descriptive words couldn’t do that weekend justice. I’ll go for something simple, succint and true.

It was class.

*The man code is one article and it states that a man should never shit himself in public under any circumstances, unless he is a mouldy feen on the sauce hahaha, chalk it down keeeed.**

**Disclaimer: I have never shit myself on a night out. Rag week in 2013 came close, but that was due to undercooked chicken and four nights on the sesh.***

Whiskey: A Tribute

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Instagram to suggest me some topics to write about. I assured them that I would write about them all, and while I intend to keep that promise, there were a few outlandish ideas that I will have to leave stew for a while. A good friend of mine and fellow local beer connoisseur, Ultan, suggested whiskey. I knew this had to be my first one of the Instagram stories. Writing about dating, politics, mental health and other serious topics can wait. The golden brown elixir was the most serious of them all.

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My first experience with whiskey was probably much the same as most other Irish teenagers. Someone’s older brother or sister bought us cans and naggins in the offie and we drank them in fields or at house parties. While it was a chore to get to the field or the house party with alcohol undetected, they really were simpler times. You and your childhood friends were all getting horrendously drunk at the same time, often for the first time. Being drunk was just dizziness and absolutely everything being funny.
Bushing started out with naggins of Huzzar vodka and cans of Bulmers. After a while I started drinking naggins of Jack Daniels mixed with club orange. Someone said that would make it nice. The liary bastard.
After a few years, once we were all of legal age we would sometimes get a shot of Jack at the bar or possibly a Jack and Coke. We felt so grown up. Drinking whiskey at a bar! Oh, how sophisticated of us. What’s that? Cian’s getting sick with his head in the urinal on the night of his girlfriend’s eighteenth? What a mature young man.

I was actually put off whiskey for a while, not when I got sick in a urinal, surprisingly, but when my buddy Lar, in college, drank a shoulder of Queen Margot one night in the first few weeks of first year. I’ve never seen a man as drunk. Lar’s one of my best friends and that man can put away tens of pints and shots in a night but the whiskey awoke some drunken beast in him. If I still had the photos of what you did to that poor car, Lar! Hahahahaha, all jokes.
Funnily enough, Lar drank another shoulder of whiskey two years later and told me and the lads that he loves us, so there you see the beauty of the two-sided coin that is whiskey.

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It wasn’t until I was finished college and having no clue what to do with my life that I started having the odd Jack and Coke again. I was in a bit of a funk, perhaps and started going mad on the whiskey, then, eventually graduating to Jameson on the rocks. My brother will tell you, there were a few nights in the Old Oak on Oliver Plunkett street a few months before I moved here when I got a bit rowdy on the aul whiskeys. Arguing with and shouting at bartenders and bouncers, getting kicked out, only to go back in the next weekend and do it all again. I’m lucky I wasn’t beat up and down Cork city. I’m lucky I’m tall!
Again, I took a break from the whiskey. I wasn’t really ashamed of my actions because gosh darnit if they had just given me my drink then none of that would’ve happened. I did realise that I was drinking a bit much and that a break from whiskey and Cork might be a good idea. So I decided to move to Woodlawn! Hahahaha it’s like the geographical pot calling the kettle black.
I did go fairly wild there at the end of last summer. And I have continued to go wild since but less often, and I like to think with more dignity. I haven’t woken up in an ambulance or smashed my head off the ground after a night on the whiskey neats in a year. I’m genuinely proud of that.

Once I realised that it wasn’t whiskey’s fault and that I was culpable for my own actions, I went back on the golden sauce. I love a Tullamore Dew on the rocks when I’m off, and I have a few bottles of whiskey stored nearby my bed in case of emergency. I just love whiskey. It has been an on-off relationship but right now it is most definitely on.
I’m over Vodka. I’m over Jaegar. I’m over tequila. I’m definitely over Sambucca. I’m over rum and Captain Morgan’s and the like. I’m still very much in love with beers. I’ve drank em solid for the last eight years. I’ve drank all the other spirits for the same amount of time and the only one that I still have a place in my heart for is all the different types of whiskey.
So give me a Jack and Coke and a shot of Jamo on the side. Give me and Ultan two Tully Dews on the rocks there Charlie when you get a chance, please. I’ll try a scotch tonight sure, why not. Keep the Glenfidditch away from me, it costs an arm and a leg. One glass of Teachers, Midleton, what have you, won’t hurt. You’ll have your best nights, fights, dances and deep meaningful conversations on whiskey.

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In fact, legend has it that the Brazilian art of dance-fighting, Capoeira, was actually invented by a Corkman, Dessie Fitz, after he stumbled into a favela after a stag, drunk on Irish whiskey, and was stuck in limbo between a great dance and a great fight.

Thanks for having me, tip your bartenders, waitresses and your doormen! You’ve been fantastic!

Hallowe’en

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Happy Hallowe’en all! Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening, wherever ye may read this. Today is Halloween, a grand old Celtic tradition that made its way to North America in the wake of An Gorta Mor. It has other names too, such as All Hallow’s Eve, or All Saint’s Eve. This makes November 1st All Saint’s Day, a global celebration of the London girl group popular in the late 90s and early 00s, and also the long running Australian medical drama that aired in the early mornings and afternoons when I was in secondary school. Ah, great times. No, in all seriousness, All Saint’s Day is a feast of the rememberance of the saints. This makes Halloween the eve of the feast of saints and was a celebration of the dead, at least in Celtic culture.

The festival of Halloween came from the Irish Celtic festival ‘Samhain’, which means ‘summer’s end’, or ‘end of harvest’. Samhain brought about the darker half of the year, probably from mid October until mid April. The border between the human world and the spiritual world was very limited during these few days, meaning that the Aos Si, or faeries, were more active in our world. Old stories of the Aos Si would have been passed down from generation to generation, meaning people knew the powers they had. Offerings of food, drink and crops were left outside people’s houses so that their family would survive the winter.
From as early as the 16th century there are records of people dressing up, or ‘guising’, while going door to door and reciting verse for food. In the 18th century costumes and pranks began to appear in records in the U.K. In all likelihood these early guises were of the Aos Si, the faeries, and other mythical Celtic creatures. You wouldn’t find a sexy witch walking around the town reciting old poems for a bit of bread!
Halloween made its way to the land of the free in the wake of mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century. This emigration from Ireland was, of course as a result of the Famine. The Celtic tradition was introduced to the Americans and over the last 250 years has been made into a humongous commercial holiday in the States. The holiday is no longer solely about the celebration of the dead and the saints. It is now a combination of entertainment for kids, partying for adults and thrill seeking for horror fans.

I loved Halloween growing up. I loved the dressing up part of it and going trick or treating with my brothers and parents. It is magical as a child. Maybe not as magical as Christmas or your birthday, but it is a special day nonetheless. Going to the community hall in Rathpeacon to bob for apples and listen to scary stories was so much fun. Everyone was so proud of their costumes. Vampires, zombies and monsters would all be beaming up, the happiest group of undead you ever did see. If I remember correctly, a friend of mine dressed up as a mini Hitler one year for a competition in school. He looked the part. He did not win.
As we got older it obviously turned more social. Trick or treating with friends turned into a few naggins down the Gaa Woods or the tower road. Dressing up didn’t happen in the back fields as we tried to give ourselves alcohol poisoning.
A few years later during college we were all dressing up again. Alcohol was still a major factor, as it should be, which probably gave me the courage to dress up as a woman in first year in collge. God, I was pretty.

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I haven’t been able to do much the last few halloweens, working the night shift tonight and last year too. It doesn’t bother me that much as it saves me from a mahoosive hangover the next day but the fun of heading out with all your friends and everyone beaming when people compliment their costume is almost childlike. If it weren’t for the booze, cigarettes and riding going on all around us you could nearly be transported back to bobbing for apples and listening to scary stories with your mates.