A few weeks before the Glasgow Derby on 12 March 2017 I had decided I wouldn’t go to the game, instead I would fly over to Dublin and watch it with the locals while sampling the atmosphere and pubs that the great city has to offer.
My flight and hotel booked the week before I was up at the crack of dawn on the Sunday morning for the early flight from Glasgow to Dublin. The flight is less than a hour but still enough time to sink a few on board refreshments Aer Lingus had on offer.
I landed in Dublin around 9am, once outside the terminal I spotted the taxi rank and hopped in one, Parnell Street being my destination for my hotel for the night.
The journey was around 20 minutes to city centre Dublin, and as with most taxi drivers, they all have hundreds of stories to tell. When the driver recognised my accent he started to tell me how fabulous Glasgow was and how warm and friendly the people are. The feeling was mutual.
Arriving at the hotel around 9:20am, bags checked in and a quick wash and change I was out the door to see what Dublin had to offer.
Before I landed in Dublin I had spoke to a few Irish people on Twitter on where is best to watch the game. Believe it or not, unless you know where to go, then finding a pub that will show a Celtic game in Dublin is quite the mission. The English Premier League is massive in Ireland so that tends to get priority in most pubs.
Rachel Lynch was a great help in this, her recommending Murray’s Bar on O’Connell Street Upper, which turned out just yards from my hotel, so it was ideal.
So I headed for Murray’s, the pub was open but upstairs where the game was showing wasn’t open yet as it was still early, so it was with pint in hand I headed out back to the massive seating area.
While relaxing with my pint and watching Sky Sports News on the outside televisions, a couple of older Dublin guys came over to say hello. Obviously I had never met these guys before but after a short while we where sharing stories and enjoying the craic. They too were in to watch the Celtic game so straight away there was that common bond and before you know it it feels like you have known each other for years!
I tend to think that people in Ireland who have Celtic as there first team are absolute diehards, most will say it’s Liverpool, Manchester United etc first with Celtic being their second team. But there are thousands in Ireland who adore Celtic and their knowledge of the club is outstanding, loads making the trip over to Celtic Park week in week out for years. I’m sure it can be a slog compared to us who live a lot closer, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have it anymore other way.
After a while the upstairs was opened and up I went finding a good seat to watch the game.
With the place filling up nicely with the place full of green and white, over my shoulder at the bar I recognised a familiar voice, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain was at the bar. I’d heard Phil on loads of Celtic podcasts over the years and had also read his various books so was nice to meet him in person when I went over to say hello and shake his hand.
All set for kick off, Rachel and her pal Danielle walked in and sit at a table with Phil. Rachel and Phil know each other through the journalist circles they both work in. My old seat had been nicked, so I kindly ask Rachel if I could join them at their table and she very warmly said of course.
Most Celtic fans on social media with know of Rachel and Danielle, they are not shy in coming forward with their views of things and they are great company, and yes they are both as mental in real life as they are on social media!
We all know what the score was that day, Armstrong putting us one up just after the half hour before Clint Hill scored late on to give the Rangers a point, although with their celebrating at the end, you’d of think they had won the league that day. I guess that just showed what they are and have become, small club mentality I think it’s called.
After the game and a little worse for wear I decided to head down to the Temple Bar area, not before passing the GPO for a few pictures and to have a brief moment to myself thinking of what went on at that place all those years ago in 1916.
The Temple bar area is always buzzing with locals and tourists, all keen to soak in the atmosphere that a weekend night in Dublin can produce.
After a pint in the Temple Bar, and it was only one going by the price of the damn thing, it was onto a pub just up the road called The Auld Dubliner. This was more of my thing, a band playing Irish tunes and everyone enjoying a good old singsong well into the night.
I decided to stay there for the remainder of the night and what a great night it was, bare in mind I’d gone to Dublin on my own, but not to worry, you won’t be long in making pals in a city like Dublin.
What’s your name? Where you from? What are you drinking? Three questions that sums up people in Dublin for me, always welcoming and greet you with open arms.
Nearing the end of the night and knowing I had a flight to catch in the morning, I said my goodbyes to my new pals I’d been sitting with for most of the night and off into the Dublin night I went, passing over the ha’penny bridge and back to my hotel for some well needed rest.
Flying home the next day was both happy and sad, happy I was heading for home but a bit gutted I was leaving a place that so many Celtic fans like myself feel a warmth for. I went to Dublin on my own that weekend but never felt by myself, I always felt I was surrounded by friends and people who are so happy to see you and enjoy a craic with.
Celtic may not have won that weekend but I didn’t dampen my spirit at all, pals that I made that weekend I still talk to now and I for one can wait to get back again.
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