Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Super Moons, Rainbows and Mispronunciations in Donegal

The snow-washed denim clad barman in The Beachcomber bar on my third night in Rathmullan walked away muttering to another member of staff as I sat at the bar after asking for a pint of the local pale ale. All I heard were mutterings of ‘Kinnegaaar’ (think Mullingar) and ‘Kinnegr’ (think vinegar), as my ability to make out more than the odd word spoken in a Donegal accent was exacerbated by distance and he was at the end of the bar pulling a pint of Limeburner for me.
Beer-name-pronunciation has been a recurring issue with me ever since my first trip to Belgium when I caused an entire bar to fall silent as a waiter reprimanded me for pronouncing Duvel in a junior cert French ‘Dooveel’ way instead of the curt Flemish ‘Doovl’.
I didn’t understand what he said either but in both cases I think the equivalent words to ‘tool’ and ‘tourist’ were used in good measure - and perhaps rightly so. And as for Nøgne Ø…

But don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t put me off The Beachcomber. It’s a great bar with possibly the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, plus views that would make a Scandinavian fjord seem plain and ordinary. The staff are friendly, approachable and talkative, and nothing seems to bother them – apart from mispronunciations obviously.

And so far this week Rathmullan had rainbows, super moons and hightides to keep us amused too.

Our first visit was on a busy Saturday night, the pub full of Dubs, Norn Ironers and locals as well as the odd strays like us. The Gaa was on the TV and the place was hot and hopping. We – my other half, kids and a few stray relations – crammed ourselves into a few seats and I approached the bar with the knowledge that a Kinnegar Limeburner tap was clearly visible.
‘It’s gone,’ the Barman said apologetically, ‘and we’ve got no bottles either,’ he added, pre-empting my next question. A sad face and a pint of Smithwicks followed…
But the next day it was back on. ‘We got in two wee kegs,’ the same barman said as he pulled my pint. ‘They won’t last long.’ My better half had asked for a pint of a macro lager and when I came back down I put the two pints in front of her and asked her which was which, and which she preferred. She wasn’t sure about the first question but preferred the pale ale…

And so, back to my third night, which was a solo mission, based on a lack of interest from any of the others in our group (A day trip to the incredible Ballymastocker beach, Fanad lighthouse (from a distance!), Sheephaven Bay and a detour that almost took us INTO Lough Salt had worn them out.) and as I was admiring the my beer – as you do – a man and woman rushed up to the bar via the back door.
‘Do you have than Line burner back in yet,’ she asked. When the bar man told her than indeed they did have Limeburner back in she asked for two pints, and I noticed that her companion was looking at me funny.
‘He-arsten-fursten-cloudy-beer-tee-as-Limeburner?’ he asked in a language that sounded part Dutch but mostly Norwegian and spoken with a Donegal accent.
‘Sorry?’ I replied – but he just repeated the same string of words in a louder voice. His partner, and I presume translator, had gone missing so I just sat looking at his inquisitive face and said, ‘Yes, Limeburner, it’s unfiltered,’ hoping this was the answer he required.
‘De-gerten-as-to-Germany-in-forten-fur-de-lemon-in-de-orsen-too!’ he said, following this statement up with a mighty laugh. I just smiled at him inanely and nodded - as you do. Luckily just then his minder/carer/partner arrived and encouraged him away, so I’ll never know exactly what he said or what language he was speaking. Knowing me it was English but just not in a way that my ears and brain could assimilate.

Back to the beer…

Kinnegar’s Lime Burner would not be my first choice of ale but in a macro-brewery-dominated world it’s a better choice to most other tipples in a bar. Not to mention my fondness to support Irish craft beers when they are good. And Limeburner is good if not spectacular, but that’s just a question of taste really (and from what the barman said it was certainly popular in the Beachcomber). I like unfiltered beers in general but I did feel that Limeburner would benefit from filtration to remove that slight chalky, almost Witt quality that I perceived from it. I’m not a major fan of wheat beers - Limeburner isn’t one I know - but I got that same quality from the beer which left it feeling slightly imbalanced to me. Not clean and crisp enough for a pale ale – although I still enjoyed it as drinking beer is not just about the beer...

I hope that I’ll get a better handle on the pronunciations soon, at least I’ll know if I’m being skitted!

More Rathmullan assessments to follow including The White Harte and The Tap Room in Rathmullan House Cellar Bar…

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