Well, I told you I had a story for you, and here it is... It's going to come at you in pieces as I obviously don't do a very good job of recounting tales such as this briefly (plus, I want to be able to remember the whole trip when I look back in a few years and read these entries). If you want a condensed version of the story from the perspective of one of my favorite Irishmen, click here.
Sometimes things just don't work out how we expect. I had grandiose intentions of blogging daily from Northern Ireland last week - I was there with downhere to open for Chris Tomlin in the Odyssey, Northern Belfast's premier venue. We flew into Dublin Monday morning and took a shuttle bus two and a half hours north to Belfast where we were picked up by our good friend Philip, who was also the promoter for the event. (Note to travellers: if you're looking at doing any cross Atlantic flights any time soon, I would NOT recommend flying Continental unless the price is just too good to beat. This was my first time flying to Europe with them, and it wasn't terribly pleasant - tight seats, old-school planes and entertainment systems... I will work hard to find other options before I book a long flight on Continental again.)
Philip picked us up and drove us to our hotel in Ballymena where we would be based out of for the next four days. We spent the afternoon sleeping and getting our internal clocks readjusted before heading over to Philip's house for the evening to hang out with his family - Ally (blogs over at Supersimbo), Stephen, and Cherith - and friends, namely Robin. It was a fun, relaxing evening with friends - there was a lot of excitement in the air as they had already sold 3100 tickets for the concert (the venue was laid out to seat 3600 or so at capacity) which was Wednesday night and everything was in place. Chris and his band were arriving the following morning, and the plan was that Philip would come by the hotel around noon and take us all out for an afternoon of sightseeing in beautiful Northern Ireland. We turned in fairly early and all slept like logs, having traveled for 24 hours without a full night's rest.