Corkorians are proud of their city. Like any 2nd sibling, Cork wants to compete with, and yet be completely unlike Dublin. Our cab driver told us he wouldn’t even go to Dublin. “Cork is much more laid back, and not too big,” he said. “Here we’re not in a rush. We say ‘That’s what tomorrow is for.’” (Our driver was not a native of Cork City, however. He grew up on a military base on Spike Island. No electricity or running water and a maze of tunnels underneath the entire island—quite the adventureland for a kid.) As he pulled our luggage out of the trunk I noticed a couple hurls. “Ah, Hurling,” I said. (Kind of like Radar’s, “Ah, Bach.”) “Have a match today at 2:00,” he said with a grin, “time to drop some blood.”
A few more Corkorians told me they would never go to Dublin. “Dublin is not even Ireland,” one told me at Charlie’s where we were listening to a trad session. “How do you mean?” I asked. “Well,” his friend said, “you know the phrase ‘outside the pale.’ Dublin had a wall around it. Didn’t even want to be part of Ireland.” “Yeah,” the first guy said, “they’ve always associated more with the English.” As a matter of fact, the most famous pale (meaning territory or jurisdiction) was a 20-mile radius around Dublin fortified by the English against Gaelic Ireland, in the 14th and 15th centuries. I have hard time mustering any confederate spirit, and these guys are bringing up divisions that are 600 years old.
Turns out, Cork is a bit like Texas, my pub friends explained. Cork has always been considered a place of rebels, just like Texas. And Cork has a sing-songy accent, evocative of the Texas twang. (The Cork accent is great, and the first time I’ve heard “ye” used in casual conversation.) These guys are fans of Texas music, Joe Ely in particular, and Texas personalities like Willie and Kinky. I told them that KGSR and KUT stream online, and one wrote down the call letters. One guy had been to Austin and loved it. “We went to Antone’s,” he said. “Oh yeah, that’s great,” I said, “the blues.” Although I’ve never been to Antone’s. Ah, Bach.