Week 1 Recap: Tailgating in Dublin, Ireland

GT won the 2016 Aer Lingus Classic 17-14This is a little late, but you can blame it on the jetlag. Week 1 of the 2016 college football season is officially in the books. Georgia Tech and Boston College fans made the trip to Dublin, Ireland for a thriller of a game, with Georgia Tech scoring the winning touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.

As you would expect in Dublin, it was a rainy affair, with players and refs sliding on the slick grass. Tech fans were worried when Boston College began the comeback and many questioned whether the 4th and 20 call to go for it was the right one (Tech converted and scored the winning touchdown later on the drive).

Tailgating When Traveling By Air

Cheers to college football season 2016!
Cheers to college football season 2016!
Normally, we setup our tailgates on Friday afternoons and go until Sunday, when they kick us out. But, it’s kind of hard to take an RV across the Atlantic (not to mention, many of our RVs would have had a lot of difficulty maneuvering on the small streets of a historic city like Dublin). So instead of RV tailgating, we went pub-gating!

Now, Dublin has some weird pub hours, most opening at 10:30 AM. For your die hard tailgater, 2 hours, including travel to the game, is just not enough time. Fortunately, our group had been to a pub near the stadium the day before and the manager let us know that they had some kind of special disposition to open early. While still not ideal, we were able to have our breakfast pub-gating starting at 9:00 AM. But hey, we had our Guinness with a full Irish breakfast at The Lombard.

Dublin Welcomes American Football Fans

Dublin welcomed the American football fans with open arms. Irish hospitality can put Southern hospitality to shame. All around the city, the locals had made special efforts to embrace the American football fans. Both teams were honored at the airport with balloon and flag displays and around the city with flags from many of the pubs.

GT Boston Dublin 2016
Georgia Tech and Boston College flags and signs were around the airport and Dublin, in pubs, hotels, street signs, and stores.

I don’t know if even the Irish were expecting just how much whiskey that Georgia Tech fans could drink. More than one bar ran out of certain local brands of whiskey after our fans arrived! But hey, when in Ireland, drink Irish whiskey, right?

Marching Band and High School Teams Parade

On Thursday, the Boston College and Georgia Tech marching bands, along with the six high school teams that were also invited to play in Dublin, participated in a parade. The parade route started at Parnell Square, in the shadows of the Abbey Presbyterian Church. The route then continued down O’Connell Street and to Trinity College.

Oops! Game Memorabilia With Typos

Yes, Carrolls Gift Store really did print "Georgia vs Boston" shirts - 4,000 in all.
Yes, Carrolls Gift Store really did print “Georgia vs Boston” shirts – 4,000 in all.
You may have seen a news report about the mess up on some t-shirts that said “Georgia” was playing “Boston.” We ran into the assistant manager at one of the Carroll’s gift stores that was responsible for the shirt. They were all excited about the shirts, thinking they had a hit on their hands. They had no idea about the uproar the shirts would cause until the ESPN TV crew came into the stores to ask about the shirts. Needless to say, we can absolutely confirm that the shirts were real. Sorry, but we wouldn’t buy any, even if they were already on sale before the game for 8 Euro a piece.

There were many street vendors selling scarves commemorating the game. However, these too had a similar typo with the “TECH” left off the team name. Oops! Fortunately we were able to find some Georgia Tech scarves with the proper name on them, even if the scarves did not have the game date and information on them.

We had to explain to more than one local that calling Georgia Tech just Georgia was like calling Manchester United just Manchester. Even with the mix-ups on names and terminology, they were all so nice about it that we really could not hold it against them. Just chalk it up to them not knowing the ins and outs of college rivalries and have a good laugh about it.

Getting Around Dublin

Everyone was nice and more than happy to help us with directions. The only problem was finding a local among all the football tourists. The cab drivers were some of the best tour guides we saw, happy to share a bit of history on the city as we drove to our destinations.

We did minimize the use of taxis though, with the use of the Leap visitor pass for the Dublin subway system. If you buy the pass at the airport, you can get a three day pass for about 20 Euro. If we had paid for our subway trips on a per use basis, we would have easily gone over 100 Euro. Definitely recommend the Dublin Leap Pass for your stay! Unlike Marta, the Atlanta subway “system,” the Dublin system has three major differences:

  1. The Dublin subway goes places other than the airport.
  2. The Dublin subway has Wifi on the train so you can stay in touch with friends and family back home without using your international data plan.
  3. You have to scan out at the end of your trip, so don’t lose your ticket or pass.

Cellphones and Data Plans

Before leaving for Ireland, we all inquired about the various international data plans available through our providers. Verizon and AT&T had similar plans – either a monthly charge of around $40 for unlimited minutes and texts but extremely limited data or $10 per day to use your domestic plan, whatever it is.

Most of the pubs and many of the stores had free WiFi for you to use, instead of using your limited or expensive international data plans. The airport and the subway also had free WiFi. Most of the hotels our group stayed in also had WiFi included. Our hotel, the Royal Marine, had individual room hotspots to excellent service.

Some of us, yours truly included, had issues with data service at some point in our trip. Text and calls worked like normal. The problem did last the entire time and the cause was unknown. Rebooting our phones did not fix the issue either. The abundance of free WiFi definitely helped offset the mishaps. Once we arrived back stateside, all phones are working again. So who knows.

There’s Always One, Even in Dublin

No matter where you go, you'll always find a UGA fan at a Tech game. Even in Dublin.
No matter where you go, you’ll always find a UGA fan at a Tech game. Even in Dublin.
Tech fans say that you’ll always find a UGA fan at a Tech game and it doesn’t matter where we go. This trip proved us right. We found two UGA fans at The Lombard, where we were pre-gaming. We also saw them at the post-game area while waiting on the team to exit. Fortunately, these two UGA fans were good sports and just wanted to see some American college football while they were living in Europe. They didn’t start any fights or anything of the sort that Tech fans are accustomed to when dealing with UGA fans. But there’s always one. Or two.

All said, it was a good trip; just don’t ask Delta to deliver your checked bags on time. They lost one of our bags and two other friends had their bags delayed.

How was your week one tailgate? Big plans for week two? Comment below!

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