“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” Liz Taylor
Liz’s simple, life-affirming words are written in white on chalkboard paint on the strip of wall just below the ceiling in Foley’s pub on Baggott Street. For my cousin Susie and me, Foley’s is just one of our stops on our quest to find the craic in Dublin. So far it’s been easy. As we have looked for fun, fun has looked for and found us. Today, January 6, is Little Christmas – Nollaig Bheag. It’s also known as Russian Orthodox Christmas. It’s a day when the holidays are officially over. All of the gorgeous Christmas decorations here in Dublin come down. And here in Ireland it’s also called Women’s Little Christmas. Traditionally it’s a day each year, different from the other 364, when the tired women of the land are finally given a break. Men are supposed to take over the housework, offering women a chance to go out and have fun with each other. Some suggestions include getting together for tea and scones…so simple, so sweet, so Irish. We like the idea, but we definitely don’t need a special holiday. In fact we might need a holiday from fun. Susie and I are world-class fun seekers and finders. It’s something that comes naturally – it’s in our Kane DNA.
And it doesn’t take much to make us happy – we’re simple girls. As Liz suggests, we start with drinks. It’s a glass of Guinness at Mary’s Bar, or a Bulmer’s on ice, or a white Russian at the Bank or a Portuguese red at Chez Max, a quaint French bistro just in front of the castle on Dame Street. It’s going back to our favorite places that we both love. It’s having the waffles with strawberries at Lemon, the gyro platter at Mykonos Taverna, the fish and chips with prawns, calamari, and cod at Beshoff Brothers, the raspberry and blueberry scones with clotted cream and jam at Queen of Tarts. (They are the best in the land. We’re not leaving until we get the secret recipe. Susie preordered four more to take with her tomorrow when she goes back to the States.) And then we try the mingle at Murphy’s – butterscotch and Dingle sea salt ice cream – made from milk from the Kerry cow – and then covered with caramel syrup and whipped cream. And because we need time in between food to work up an appetite, we go to yoga class and walk around the city for hours. We meet friends for lunch. We peak into the Globe on our first night in town and find that we’ve stumbled into a swing dance event. The three-man band called Riley and the Moonrockers is off the charts. And the swing dancers – the best I’ve ever seen. The best dancer, Sean, sits with us and we ask him about how he learned to dance like that. He tells us he’s been dancing since he was sixteen and he’s self taught. He’s in his late forties now, but still has the hair flip and the clothes and all the moves, on the dance floor and off. He does somersaults and flips and jumps with little effort. He tells us he’s been to Graceland several times. We figured as much. His group includes three women – one with blonde hair in a flip with a silk red flower on the side. We’re amazed by them and our good luck to have found them.
We hang out at the Irish Film Institute until it’s time to see The Danish Girl. It’s excellent. I think Eddie Redmayne might win the Oscar two years in a row. It’s about two Danish artists, Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe. And we learn that Lili Elbe was willing to go through several horrific operations just so that she could be a girl and put on some lipstick. As Liz Taylor knew all too well, there is something so fun and reassuring about finding the perfect lipstick and buying a few more just because. One of the best places to buy lipstick here in Dublin is at the Benefit store on South William Street. Our favorite girls at Benefit, Katie and Isabelle, – both beautiful – help us with our lipstick and our nails and a few other things, all just for the fun of it.
And then last night we designed our own pub crawl. We started out at the Bank on Dame Street, one of the most glamorous bars I have ever been in. Then after a short walk, to the classics – Toner’s on Baggott Street and then Doheny and Nesbitt just across the street – both very old, tattered, and charming. Then to Hugo’s wine bar a few doors down – chic and modern. And then to the prettiest – Foley’s – with exquisite chairs and art. I think it’s my new favorite. We finish up the night at Keogh’s on South Anne Street, a side street just off of Grafton. We people watch from the snug. And then we add on one more last stop – The Old Stand. It has a gorgeous circular bar in the center where every patron is on display.
So that’s how it goes for us girls here in Dublin looking for the craic. But like the sign at Queen of Tarts declares, life is like a pot of tea, it’s all in how you make it. And even though being a girl can be tough at times, there is definitely nothing more fun.