Ireland is my spirit home. I mean that. And, against my butter judgement, I decided to stay in Dublin one extra night before continuing on my all-Irish bicycling adventure (which you can read about here). The reason why I decided to stay one extra day in Dublin before starting my cycling adventure is because everyone I had met kept asking if I was staying for the GAA. I didn’t really know what I was about to get myself into, but I wanted an authentic Irish GAA experience (whatever that was) and I wanted to experience it like a Dubliner!
I was at the right spot at the right time for the right sport because from what everyone was telling me, Kehogh’s pub off Grafton Street pulls the best pint of Guinness in Dublin! So with a Guinness in my hand, I settled into my very first GAA!
From what I noticed by being at the pub, the GAA is batshit crazy. Every person in the pub was totally glued to screen watching what looked like green bumblebees zip around in every direction. And, from what everyone was telling me, the GAA was absolutely my kind of sport.
But, I wasn’t in Kehogh’s pub just for the GAA. Oh no….. As fate would have it, this is where I discovered a true Dublin legend. This is where I discovered the Comeon Dublin Man.
If there was ever a man who would be the perfect mascot for the city of Dublin, it would be this man. Imagine Santa Claus wearing a reddish, floral and tightly fitted Hawaiian shirt stretched over his robust belly, while occasionally pushing his distinctive glasses up his nose between gulps Guinness.
Perhaps Santa was here because he enjoyed the atmosphere of a rowdy Irish pub… or perhaps it was his favourite GAA team playing tonight. It was Dublin vs Mayo after all.
I was informed by the locals many, many, MANY times that Dublin always wins. Even if I wanted to go for Mayo, I was outnumbered, so I made sure to keep it safe, stay neutral and just observe the culture.
Then, I overheard something coming from Santa’s corner of the bar. This jolly old GAA fan mumbled something under his breath. It was quiet and insignificant. “Come on Dublin.”
I thought nothing of it and returned my attention back to the batshit crazy mess of green confusion happening on the screen.
But then, it happened again. Santa was talking to himself. His words were similar to the sounds Hordor from Game of Thrones would make. It was soft enough to fade into the background sounds of the pub, but annoying enough to grab your attention… And then, it happened. Santa’s words progressed into a chant. “Come on Dublin. Come on Dublin. Come on Dublin.”
Each time Santa repeated this phrase, his words became more expressional. There was emotion from the fire in his belly and as the GAA played out on the TV, so did the theatrics of Santa Claus.
I loved this! This guy became the entertainment of the evening – not the GAA (sorry Ireland). The main theatrics weren’t playing out on the screen, they were right behind me. His chants became so frequent that I started to count each time he said, “Come on Dublin.” And, that’s when I realised… I was witnessing a transformation. This wasn’t the Santa Claus that I had a lifetime to love. Oh no…. I was watching the development of tonight’s protagonist right in front of my eyes. This is when Santa became the Comeon Dublin Man!
52… 63…. and when he finally reached 86 “Come on Dublin” chants, things took an unexpected turn. I was now in unfamiliar territory. “Come on Dublin” had ceased to exist and the Comeon Dublin Man introduced, “Pop it Over!” I was in shock. Everything I had known about the GAA that evening was destroyed! He was now flipping between “Come on Dublin” and “Pop it Over!” But I kept counting. I knew this was important.
Then, a moment in time evolved just like a scene out of a Shakespearian tragedy. The Comeon Dublin Man waved the bar man over. He didn’t ask for another Guinness like you’d expect. Instead, they both leaned in. Then, he said to the barman, “I’ve got €1,000 down on Dublin.”
This is why Santa was now up 92 chants of “Come on Dublin!”
Things were getting serious. The temperature inside Kehogh’s pub shot up ten degrees in a flash! Then, out of nowhere, Santa unleashed from the bellows of his belly, “UpYaBoya!” This was madness! Only seven minutes left. Shit was getting real. This big bellied, jovial old chap chanted “Come on Dublin!” 126 times!
My eyes were now fixated on this white haired man of mystery. Who was the Come on Dublin Man? Yes, this was Dublin’s number one fan but deep down, who WAS he?
At this moment, I wanted him to win his €1,000, because I KNEW that free drinks were now on the line! This was the most important outcome for the entire pub!
Beads of sweat formed on his brow and his lips were pressed together. I didnt know why, until… like a shot in the dead of night, the Come on Dublin man raised his right hand with force and yelled, “effing hell!”
This didn’t seem good. His mood changed. My jolly Old Saint Nick completely shat a brick. The “Come on Dublin” chant was now replaced with an underwhelming, “I’m exhausted” and “effing hell!” The crowd could smell the defeat in the air. Then, in the nick of time, every single publican raised to their feet in unison and started to chant, “GIVE HIM THE BALL! GIVE HIM THE BALL! GIVE HIM THE BALL!”
My eyes were wide. I was taking this all because Christmas wasn’t going to happen tonight for the Comeon Dublin Man. He now sat silent with his arms crossed as the beads of sweat turned into streams of sadness dripping down the sides of his face catching in his beard. Dublin’s number one fan was now totally and utterly lost for words. He took his glasses off in disgust and rubbed his eyes. Shit had shifted from serious to fucking real.
Words were muttered that I couldn’t understand. Then, he leaned over for a quiet chat to the barman. An eerie calm overcame the Comeon Dublin Man and it was scary.
But then, all the publicans rose to their feet once again in unison. At this very moment, pint glasses of sweet black Irish nectar shot into the air and every single person in Kehogh’s was singing, “I love you baby!”
I left the Comeon Dublin Man to his own devises. He lost the €1,000 that night. There were no free rounds of beer to be had. It was a sad day for the Comeon Dublin Man and for Dublin. As I left, I wondered if the sadness would continue world wide.
To the Comeon Dublin Man: May the GAA forever win be in your favour, mate. Thank you for one hell of a bizarre night. You are a good man.
An Aussie girl gone walkabout in the great big world!