Seeing Ireland through tourist eyes

Benjamin Franklin it was who said “Fish and visitors smell in three days.”

If that is the case then this place stinks, since we have been favoured by successive waves of visitors non-stop for more than 3 weeks now! In truth it has been fun, like going on holiday without leaving home, with strolls around town during the Kilkenny Arts Festival, trips to Wexford, Waterford and beyond and even a couple of barbecues (yes!) have been not just possible but pleasurable.

Food played a major role. We catered for voracious meat eaters, vegetarians, people who consider a vegetable or salad leaf to be akin to poison and one individual (you know who you are!) who claimed a severe smoke allergy and retired to the pub!

Many conversations ranged around price: the horror of the €10 lunch that essentially comprised a fancied up sandwich and coffee; the price of the pint/houses/cars; the folly of the 100% mortgage and where that would lead us. Those who had not been here for some time could hardly believe how expensive a country Ireland has become.

In Dublin I went (for the first time ever) on one of the brightly coloured hop-on, hop-off buses that travel in a constant circle around the main tourist spots.


I boarded with my sunglasses firmly on, lest I be spotted by someone I knew, but forgot all about that very quickly – it was great fun and the commentary was terrific, entertaining and informative. I really recommend this way of getting about the city. It is interesting to see familiar places through new eyes.

Going into an exhibition in Kilkenny Castle one English visitor was completely enthralled by the pipe work and machinery of a very old heating system. I must have walked by it a hundred times and honestly never even noticed.

Another was fascinated by a tiny shop called “Blah Blah Blah”, unaware that around here the name for a rounded bread bun, NOT a bap, large enough to contain a good lunch, is a “blaa”. And no, I have no idea where that name came from. Anyone?

Published: August 10, 2008 | Updated: August 10, 2008

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  • Holger Otto says:

    In Germany, “Blah Blah Blah” is a synonym for a meaningless and also often senseless gossip. So it could be interesting, if the shop’s owner is a German speaking person and/or he/she is selling things like mobile phones.

    Great side by the way: very informative and I like the personal touch. Keep it up!

    I am about to visit Éire in late August. For it is my very first time I go there, I will do a very touristic thing: travelling around with a guided bus tour for a week. For me it is a chance to get to know to “country and people” without caring about the left-hand driving, the schedule of places to visit or the hotels to stay.

    Greetings from Germany

    • Ella Barrett says:

      Actually blah blah blah means much the same thing here in Ireland. The shop sells sandwiches, as far as I know, and it’s name is just a pun on blaa which is a type of bread made in Killkenny and in Waterford.
      As to the origins of blaa, it supposedly comes from french or latin. I don’t think it’s been actually decided which. You should try it on your visit to Ireland.

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