When I started listening to The High Kings, a band that performs Irish folk music, I didn’t expect it to curse our trip to Dublin. I was traveling from Grantham, England, with my partner Leonora Inderstrodt, and our friend, Maddy Webb, to Dublin, where we planned to spend a weekend in Ireland as a part of our time studying at Harlaxton Manor. Throughout the morning before our travels, I considered the song playing through my AirPods, “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” to be fitting, though I had no idea just how fitting it would soon become. It tells the story of a young man on a journey from his home, presumed to be in Tuam, to the city of Dublin. The lyrics include all the misfortune and adventure that befell him on this trek as his belonging are stolen and he ends up stowing away upon a ship. Our own journey to the city was not nearly as unlucky as his, though it was far from smooth.
Unaware of the mystical ramifications of my actions, I continued singing “The Rocky Road to Dublin” through the end of my packing and, being the glutton for punishment that I am, sustained my challenge to the universe even as we waited for our pre-booked taxi to arrive. We stood huddled outside in the late January wind for five minutes, which eventually turned into ten minutes. After fifteen minutes of waiting, I begin to understand the ramifications of my actions and finally ceased my singing. I would not sing for the remainder of the journey, but by this point, the damage was already done. We had begun to grow anxious and feared that our train in the Grantham station would end up leaving without us. As our nerves rose, I began our third call to the cab company to ensure a car was in fact heading our way when the headlights of our ride to the station finally came into view.
Upon entering the cab, I removed my gloves which I had equipped during our extensive wait and set them between my travel backpack, which I had situated on my lap, and my chest. From there the ride down was uneventful, and we soon were parked beside the entrance to the station. As we exited the cab, I placed my gloves under my arm and began strapping on my backpack as I walked around the back of the car and onto the sidewalk. By the time we made it into the station, I had finished buckling my pack and finally noticed that only one glove out of the pair remained under my arm. I raced back to the cab assuming I must have accidentally dropped it onto my seat while exiting, only to find the cab pulling onto the street. The driver either didn’t notice or merely didn’t care to notice my frantically waving arms as I briefly chased after it. My disappointment in losing the glove with short-lived as I soon noticed it lying on the ground beside the sidewalk where it must have fallen out of the cab as I had gotten up. This sliver of fortune gave me hope that the remainder of our journey would be smooth sailing, but that turned out to be a fool’s hope indeed.
Just as I walked through the entrance to join my comrades, the next main obstacle to our journey came into focus: obtaining our tickets. We had purchased our tickets on Trainline, and could not get virtual tickets, requiring us to print out our tickets upon arrival at the station. Because of our arrival time, there were no more workers at the desk, leaving us to resort to the more automated method of printing out tickets. The printing device resembled a vending machine with a little slot to insert the credit or debit card used to purchase the tickets, a screen to select the tickets, and a dispenser to dispense the tickets. The first issue we ran into was determining which card Maddy had used to purchase our tickets. There were three options, and we decided to start by testing the Discover card. We had barely started selecting our tickets when the box began to beep angrily. When both our second and third attempts met the same fate, we realized we had to reexamine our method. Upon examining the ticket receipts, Maddy determined that the tickets had been bought with the Discover card, so we inserted this card for a second time, but were faced again with zero progress. As we soon learned, the Discover cards could be used to purchase the tickets on Trainline but were incompatible with the printing kiosks, making our tickets completely inaccessible. Begrudgingly, we purchased another set of tickets for the ride down to Stansted Airport and recommenced our journey.
By this point, all three of us were nervous and wary of anything else going wrong, though all seemed well for the remainder of our trip to Stansted. Upon arriving at Stansted though, we realized that we had forgotten to check in for our flight, and discovered that Ryanair, the airline we were using, has a limit on check-ins two hours before boarding, meaning we were unable to access our plane tickets. After talking with some workers we were able to sort it out, but we each had to pay a fifty-dollar fine. Then we began our long trek through the airport, traversing a long winding hallway with such a variety of merchandise that I thought we has somehow entered a shopping mall. Right past security were rows of perfume, with full bottles of alcohol located just beyond it so you could enter the plane double-fisting vodka and gin after your stressful day of travel (not that we indulged at their prices). I honestly thought we had seen it all until I turned to find a Lego Millennium Falcon set located right on the shelf beside me, for those parents heading home for Christmas who forgot their gift I suppose. Once we exited capitalist purgatory, we faced a whole new state of limbo, the path to our terminal. Seemingly endless spiraling hallways each one with a sign at the distance reading “Terminals 12-26” with little arrows that seemed to go in circles. We went up an escalator, through a hallway, down an escalator, through another hallway, up a flight of stairs, and then the last hallway finally led to our destination.
Compared to the trip so far, the flight over to Ireland was smooth as silk, and our time in Ireland was even more enjoyable. We explored the city of Dublin, learning all kinds of things about Irish history with some gruesome details, and even made it up to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway before our weekend was over. I would like to be able to say that I learned my lesson from our rocky road, but that would not be entirely true. In truth, I barely stopped singing our entire time on the green isle.