Author: Casey Ryan, C’95
While I was on vacation, I got the following tweet:
Earlier that day, I had a difficult choice to make upon returning to Dublin from our driving tour of the Irish countryside. Do I continue with my parents to see the literary treasures at Trinity College (which I had seen before) or go to the Guinness Storehouse (which is missed seeing 12 years ago) without them? We had spent most of the vacation together and I wanted to see their reaction to the Book of Kells, the illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels in Latin and one of Ireland’s national treasures. Yet, I had made this thorny decision before and missed out on the Storehouse because of it.
So, beer won out this time for me over books. Sounds like the stereotypical decision of a college student, no?
While I was at the Guinness Storehouse on the tour, getting my serendipitous second Guinness (a random fellow and former rugger seeing me in my Dubai rugby t-shirt handed me his ticket for his free Guinness at the end of the tour,) my parents saw my brother’s good friends and my follow Penn alumnus two kilometers away from me at Trinity. I knew that Matt was going to be in Ireland; he told me that he and his wife had made rather last-minute plans to visit the country and I shared some tips before we all embarked. However, there weren’t too many days that we were going to be in the same place at the same time.
It was a lark that my parents ran into Matt and his wife, Emily. My folks had finished their tour of Trinity and the Book of Kells and Matt and Emily had missed the last tour. Heading in opposite directions, all four of them quite literally bumped into each other. Or so Emily explained later to me.
During my trip, I had gone out of my way to make sure that I chatted with strangers at the bars. However it was rather funny that I didn’t meet many locals. There were Germans and Australians, Irish tourists from the more rural counties and even some Philadelphians. Only once in Killarney did I meet a local – born and raised in the town, he was traveling in a group with a Filipino and a German.
On my last night in Dublin City Centre, I meet Matt and Emily at the Porterhouse Central, one of the five restaurant and bar fronts of Ireland’s largest genuine Irish brewery. This place was packed with locals and only a few tourists. As we shared our stories of Ireland and our lack of meeting locals, we were swept into one table’s hens night, a.k.a. bachelorette party, who chatted us up since they heard our accents. Another table was celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary and their first “date night” out since the birth of their son. Yet others that we met were out for a night on the town. Throughout it all, Matt and I continually were asked how we knew each other (since Matt and Emily were obviously married) and we told everyone that we knew each other through Penn.
Many of the Dubliners that we chatted with were impressed with Penn and they knew that it wasn’t Penn State. They asked us if we had visited Trinity and wanted to know more about our experiences in college compared to theirs. All in all, the craic was grand!
I’m always amazed how our tight connections as alumni and the reputation of Penn are well received all around the world. Fortunately, it took me a night in Dublin to remind me how great being an alumnus of Penn is.