Rugby World Cup ’99 in Ireland

From a group email sent to family and friends after my trip:

In early October I flew out of Switzerland to Dublin, and from there raced straight up to Belfast for the Aussie’s first Rugby World Cup game – versus Romania.  It was great being there for the event with what must’ve been every Aussie in Europe.  After much beer, little sleep, green-and-gold facepaint and fingernail polish application, we all migrated to the ground to watch a resounding victory.  While swilling Guinness’ afterwards in the beer tent we were joined by most of the team, and it was fab to meet and drink with a few of the lads.

After spending an extra day in Belfast to shake my head at the complete stupidity of the Catholic vs. Protestant Northern Ireland thing, I raced across the country to Galway to see me ol’ pal Jimbo, who was working in a great little place called the Salmon Weir Hostel (even Caitlin from “Degrassi” stayed there once – that’s how good it is!).  There you go Jim, a free ad for ya!  While there I perused the west coast with trips to Connemarra and the Aran Islands in some of the most miserable weather ever (the “true” way to see Ireland I told myself).

Back in Dublin it was time for the big Aust vs. Ireland encounter at Lansdowne Road.  It was amazing how many of the same crowd were there for the match, and it was great to be in amongst the Irish lads (and Jem and her Dad!) and the atmosphere of the ground.  Once again I had the pleasure of chatting to some of the players, and I even managed to sneak into the official hotel function afterwards.  Lucky me.

A bad BLT and an 8-hour bus ride to the Dingle Peninsula saw me in pretty bad shape for the most beautiful part of Ireland, but I still managed to get around and see this “Ryan’s Daughter” country (anyone seen the film or am I the only one?) – rolling, green, stone-walled hills, white beaches, rugged coastline, olde ruins, the works.  I loved it.  My stomach didn’t.

The food poisoning saw me cross my legs and hope for the best aaaaaaall the way back to Dublin, as I was in no shape to stop in Limerick for the last game of rugger.  Luckily I was OK for my flights home, and after 35 hours of aircrafts and airports, I staggered back into Melbourne.

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