"This is a ten minute stop only. If you are not
back on the bus in ten minutes, you will be left behind." With
that stern warning from the bus driver ringing in our ears, JB
and I were off to find a pub in Longford that could meet our need
for a very quick pint.
JB was a friend from university days who had
moved to Ireland shortly after I had. Although I had known he was
coming to Ireland, it was only when I ran into him one day in an
Internet café on O'Connell Street in Dublin that I discovered
that he had arrived. JB had been to Ireland before, and had
reasoned that he didn't need to track me down. We were bound to
run into each other sooner or later: Dublin was that kind of
We each had our own reasons for moving to
Ireland. But when I had recently declared my intention to
see Ireland by having a pint in every county, JB had said he too
was up for the challenge. This long weekend trip was designed to
help us cover off a few counties at once. A bus trip with a stop
in Longford, then overnight in Sligo before heading to Mayo for a
couple of days. Unfortunately, it seemed our time in Longford was
going to be shorter than we might had imagined, and who knew if
and when we might be back.
We grabbed the nearest bus station employee,
and asked where the closest pub might be. "How much time do you
have?" he asked, as the precious seconds ticked away. "Ten
minutes" we replied, with as much urgency as we could muster. He
made a face, as if to suggest that the options close to the bus
station were not very palatable. "Take that road over there. It's
not too far down on your right hand side."
With nine minutes left, we hurried to the pub
nearby and debated the merits of ordering a pint of Guinness. A
well-poured pint of Guinness takes about three minutes to pour
and settle before it is ready to drink. That would leave us less
than five minutes to drink and get back to the bus station. It
was going to be tight.
We burst in the door of the pub with seven
minutes to go, and a startled publican looked up from an empty
bar. We hurriedly placed our orders. JB went with his old
standby, Smithwicks. In spite of the time pressure, I stuck to my
usual as well, and had a Guinness. "Quality takes time." I
We waited impatiently while they were poured.
Some poor guy wandered out of the bathroom and seemed a little
surprised to see anyone else at the bar, let alone two strangers
in a hurry. The bartender poured the pints with speed and
JB made a start on his Smithwick's. With one eye on my watch and
one eye on my glass, I waited impatiently for my Guinness to
settle. To enjoy it properly, you have to wait until the bubbles
finish rising from the bottom of the glass, and it turns that
perfect shade of black.
As the last bubbles rose ever so slowly from bottom to top, there
were four minutes remaining. I had little time to savour my
pint. I downed it with record speed, and we were off to the bus
station with three minutes to spare.
We were on the bus and back in our seats on ten
minutes flat. But the bus wasn't going anywhere. We sat in the
bus for another twenty minutes until the bus driver returned,
took his place, and pulled out of the station. I suppose he took
a bit more time to enjoy his Guinness.