It’s possible to find a new friend in any bar in the world, surely, but in Dublin, Ireland, it’s a guarantee. Strangers quickly become old pals, for an hour or two, swapping stories and eagerly dispensing advice. If you need help, you’re biggest problem will be deciding whose to accept—everyone is willing. In a city famous for pubs (which don’t disappoint), it’s the culture inside that entices and resonates more than the beer.
The same-sex marriage referendum is up for vote on May 22, and evidence is everywhere in Dublin. Rainbow flags dominate the city, and pro-gay-marriage propaganda abounds on shop windows, traffic posts, and street art. At the moment, it’s nearly impossible to take a photo without “Vote Yes” sneaking its way in somewhere. In a nation where polls show over 75% support for the referendum, it’s the inclusive mentality that’s most striking. When my host took me to a pub flying six gay flags and a sign posted on the door read “We need your support,” I was shocked to learn it was a straight bar, packed mostly with men shouting over a soccer match. To Dubliners, everyone is part of we.
My hosts in Dublin were housemates Vladimir Dotsenko, 34, and Cyril Messara, 26. Both were born outside of Ireland but found their ways to this friendly city and don’t have current plans to leave. While you shouldn’t miss the Guinness Storehouse, old churches, or picturesque parks, Cyril explains here why your best bet is simply to take a walk outside.
Out Traveler: How long have you lived in Dublin?
Cyril Messara: 2.5 years.
How long have you been out?
I think I started coming out at 18, but got more comfortable with it around 20.
How is it for a gay person to get along in this city?
In Dublin it’s kind of cool to be gay. I haven’t had any bad experiences. It’s a city that likes to party, so that helps make a good match with the gay community, who really know how to do it. It’s really entertaining to live here as a gay man, even compared to places like Paris and London.
Two places a visitor should go with just one day here?
Take the train to Howth. It’s a tiny town that’s only 25 minutes away, and there’s a nice walk along the cliffs. If you’re lucky you can see dolphins. And then just go to be a pub. When my friends or family come I take them to a pub to show them how to live like a Dubliner, talking to strangers and socializing. It’s something you can do more in Dublin than other cities.
Your favorite restaurant in Dublin?
Jo Burger. It’s got a cool vibe with a DJ (sometimes), craft beer, and nice lemonades. My favorite is rhubarb, served in a jam pot. The staff is very friendly, and very hipster. The burgers are great, and you can pick your meat: lamb, chicken, beef, etc. You can also choose your bread, toppings, and anything you want. And it’s a gay-friendly place.
One thing every visitor needs to know about your city before coming here?
It’s a city where it’s nicest to walk. The streets are full of music and life. There’s always something happening in the streets, so go out and walk! It’s better to walk around than go sight-seeing here.