Thorn Around The World, Part 19: “Good Things Come In Threes”
Our new Australian friend Zoe, Brenda and I walked out of the International Hotel in Killarney, Ireland to find yet another dart bar for a few pints and some legs. As we walked the welcoming streets, bustling with tourists and locals, I checked the clock on my trusty Olympus Stylus Tough underwater travel camera–it was September 28th, day 16 of a my three month journey, and I was already losing count of how many dartboards I had discovered, friends I had made, or new places I had seen. A moment later the three of us found ourselves outside of Murphy’s, another authentic Irish pub offering food, spirits, music, and a love of darts.
Right away I met the staff, from bartender to manager, and did my thing: “Hi, I’m Thorn, darts and travel writer…” I checked out the dart area, the bar darts, and scoped out the rest of the pub and restaurant. I studied the antique photos, darts-related decor, and league standings proudly posted on the walla around the oche. Meanwhile, Zoe was getting a quick lesson in 501. She was clearly intrigued to learn from Brenda, a top US pro, asking about Brenda’s sponsor, L-Style. We told her a bit about Simon Whitlock, Paul Nicholson, and mingling with Team Australia at the WDF World Cup. Soon, Zoe was throwing with confidence and hitting her first bullseye, that perfect moment of darting joy I love to capture with my camera. For drinks, we were in Harp territory, the little brother lager of Guinness, and the good times–darting in Killarney–flowed all afternoon.
Around dusk it was dinner time, an entree trio of Murphy’s best Irish fare. We had the rest of the night to explore and play, but first we needed tickets for tomorrow’s tour and trip to Dublin, the last destination on Queen Bee and Thorn’s combined itinerary. After a quick intermission at the International Hotel and train station, the three of us were walking the magic streets of Killarney again, looking for night life and darts.
Killarney is walkable and small, making it easy to stumble across all of the establishments gearing up for the typical evening rush of live music, youngsters, and tourists. We found one upscale dance bar during the pre-party lull with a single dartboard in the back–a solid black sisal dartboard decked with Guinness logos. Of course, I was always asking bartenders, bouncers, and pedestrians which bars had boards–which weren’t hard to find in Killarney. One tip lead us to Tatler Jack.
Tatler Jack is a balanced combo of sports pub and live music, but, still being on the early side of the evening, only a few regulars filled the stools. We did our thing–a few questions and drinks with the bartender, checking out the bar darts and throwing some tungsten. Shortly later, a pair of fun Americans trundled in, traveling gal pals doing the Ireland thing, and we soon sucked them into the competition. One of them even used to live in Oregon and we talked about dart bars back home in Portland. It was starting to feel like ladies night with Thorn! I was more than happy to chalk.
Eventually, our new friends moved on, and Brenda and Zoe were running out of steam. I, on the other hand, had found my third wind. After Bee and Zoe bid adieu, I sloped around Killarney’s central heart, following my feet toward the faint tremors of heavy rhythmic thumps coming from the walls and street ahead. I found it, Sheehan’s Traditional Pub under the Killarney Grand Hotel. Young beautiful people, all dolled up and dialed, flirted in and out of the door while an equal number of tourists did the same. A live rock band was blowing the doors off the front room and the bar was packed three people thick. Even louder, toward the rear, Sheehan’s opened up even more to a second bar and throbbing dance floor, with purple, red, and electric blue lights swizzling through the dry ice fog. People were ripping up the dance floor and enjoying towering cocktails, as the DJ mixed loops and samples into unending digital beats.
I people watched a while, without much thought or hope of finding any dartboards hiding in the dark corners. I had another pint of Harp and just pondered where I was. I had the kind of been-going-all-day-buzz that makes you feel like your floating in a dream. I looked at my camera’s clock again, the date had just flipped to tomorrow.
With a satisfying sigh I shouldered my satchel, swigged the bottom of my beer, and headed back to Sheehan’s front room, where the live band had a full crowd of rockers dancing below the stage to a fabulous cover of “Sex Is On Fire” by Kings of Leon. I wiggled through the crowd to a front row corner between the bar and stage. Reaching for my camera, the song shifted to the unforgettable intro to the Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun”. A smile came across my face, my hands found an air guitar, and my feet started stomping pretend drum pedals.
The vibe was too good to miss. With some lip-sync and sign language to the barkeep, I ordered another pint and joined the dancing mob. I love traveling.
Tomorrow, tired or not, I’ll be searching for darts on the Dingle Peninsula, then head to Dublin to see an old friend…and some new ones.
Over and double out.