In 2014, if you wanted to go to the Blind Pig in Dublin, you had to make a request. This involved tracking down their elusive contact information which included no address or phone number, and sending an email stating the date and hour that you wanted to arrive, and the number in your party. Then, you waited.
If you were lucky, you would receive a message back with, not an address, but instructions on how to find it.
We were lucky.
The name The Blind Pig was a tip of the hat to the policemen who turned a blind eye to the speakeasies during prohibition in the 20’s. Though alcohol was technically illegal, certain officers who occasionally partook chose to let sleeping dogs lie.
The message said to walk down Wicklow Street, a street I had been on many times in the typical Irish rain, window shopping, rushing from one store to the next to avoid getting drenched. On Wicklow, we were to look for an ATM of a bank I can no longer remember, beside which there would be an unmarked black door. On this night, it was raining lightly as we picked our way around the puddles.
Next to the door was a keypad. We had been given the numbers to enter, and we did. The door clicked open, and we pushed through. We found ourselves in a dark alleyway, as they said would be the case. Don’t be a scaredy cat, the message had taunted. Follow the alley to the end.
There was a man sorting bottles in the dark to our left, and we were ready with the password, should he question our right to be there. We’re just here for the old lady’s funeral. But he didn’t ask.
At the end of they alleyway, we spotted the second black door, this one with a small white image of a pig, about eye level. We entered the second code, finding ourselves at the top of a very dark, very daunting set of stairs. This must be it, I said to my friends, who were hanging back. Let’s go.
We made our way down, down, down into what felt like the belly of Dublin. We passed an open door with men in aprons rushing their way around a dirty kitchen, the sound of dishes and silverware clattering.
When we finally reached the bottom, we heard nothing but silence, facing a heavy red velvet curtain. I pushed it aside, and we stepped back in time.
Jazz music was playing softly as a man in suspenders and a cap swiftly intercepted us. Name? He asked. Allie, I told him. He looked down at a list, which he had produced from his breast pocket. Right this way. He motioned for us to follow, and seated us at a small booth in the corner of the room. Some reading material for you to enjoy this evening, he said, returning with a stack of dusty, classic novels in hand which he distributed around the table. Thank you, we said, slightly confused as he breezed away. What are we meant to do with these? Asked my friend, looking down at the closed book in front of her. Look! I said, flipping through mine. Hidden amongst the pages were the names of the available cocktails. We were getting the hang of this.
We drank away the evening, reminiscing about weekend trips and parties and hikes and people, knowing this might be the last time we would see each other, at least in this corner of the world.
When we finally climbed back up out of the belly of Dublin, the streetlights, traffic, and late-night partiers seemed a shock after our trip to 1920’s prohibition era Ireland.