Ireland: Accents and Accidents - My Family Travels

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand you — you have a bit of an accent. Could you say that again?”

I stared, entirely dumbfounded, at our waitress.  We were in Oliver’s Pub in Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland, and I was being presented with a problem I had never been presented with before: not being understood. I mean, I know, I’m from the Midwest. Wisconsin girl since we moved to Milwaukee from Alaska when I was eight, it’s not exactly an accent you can avoid. Not that our accent is all together easy to understand, what with our a’s tagged on to all of our o’s and some of our words blurred together, but I’ve never not been understood.

Slowly I looked back down at the menu to make sure I had said the right thing. Yes, there it was — a bowl of Garden Vegetable Soup, four euro. Maybe I had mumbled? Yeah, I must have mumbled. It had, after all, been a seven hour flight, and it wasn’t as if I had slept much before that. My friend Lauren and I had the complete genius idea of not sleeping the night before so that we would be on the right time frame. Take that, jet lag!

At least, that’s what we had been thinking. We never really factored in that a trip over the Atlantic was fairly long, and the international jets Aer Lingus used were, to be frank, pretty cramped. By the time we pulled up to Jury’s Ballbridge, our hotel for the next week, we were pushing the limits of exhaustion and personal hygiene. Who knew that 15 hours in a combination of planes and airports could’ve made us look so nasty?

Better yet, who knew that our hotel wouldn’t have a room for us for an additional two hours?

By the time we had stumbled up to our fifth floor suite, the shower was looking like Shangri-La. We had a plan: one napped, the other showered. But who could’ve guessed the Gaelic channel would be so exciting?

I can tell you one thing — Batman was never so interesting as when he was in Gaelic. Once we had watched our fill of foreign language cartoons and brought our smell and appearance up to decent from biohazard the need for sleep had been replaced with the all-important need for food. So a cab ride later, here we were in Temple Bar. After dodging some of the more raucous pubs (screaming crowds gathered around a TV screen with nothing but football, football, football) we had settled down to quaint little Oliver’s.

More important than the nice atmosphere, they had vegetarian food — I wouldn’t be living off of chips for the week after all!  Well, that was if I could order, of course.

“Oh — uh — could I just get a bowl of the Vegetable Soup?” This time I slowed down, making sure I spoke clearly and at a decent volume.

Our waitress stared at me for a moment longer.  “Vegetable Soup?”

I nodded.

She scribbled my order on her paper pad, smiled at us both, and turned to go back to the bar.

Suddenly, a thought occurred to me. I glanced at my friend and then reached my hand out to get the waitress’s attention. “Oh, miss? I’m sorry, but do you know what time the shops around here close?'”

“What, the bars?” “

Well, you know, everything in Temple Bar.”

“Oh, about half two.” Another smile and then she went in back to turn in our order.

Lauren looked at me wide eyed and shocked. “Half to what?!”

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