Lame Dates: Dublin Ghost Bus

October 19, 2015 – Culture

Another date, another dive into the bizarre world of tourist-gouging badly organised fun. This time: An attraction I had had my eye on for quite some time: The Dublin Ghost Bus Tour. If you’ve seen the youtube promo video for this thing, you’ll know why I have held such an interest in it for so long, and if you haven’t, you should watch it. Now.

The pre-datenight routine is a special ritual which is different for every girl. Some paint their toenails, some try on 20 different variations of the same outfit only to return to the first and some take shots of tequila. In preparation for our much anticipated trip on The Dublin Ghost Bus, my date and I took acid.

We took our tiny tears of what was, I’ll be honest, pretty weak acid a half an hour before we were due to depart. The magic in the air was palpable as we stood on O’Connell st in the rain along with the people who were about to become our creepy travelling companions for the next two hours.

It was what I don’t think it’s unfair to call a Motley Crew. There was a sizeable group of Spanish students, a sweet little asian couple and a middle-aged man and woman from America who were something of an enigma in that it was impossible to tell whether they were actually brother and sister or just the most sexless husband and wife in the world by a wide berth.

Just as I was turning over this very conundrum in my mind… The Ghost Bus suddenly arrived! We were ushered upstairs to a near pitch black upper saloon which was replete with melting candles, mouldy cobwebs and fairly mediocre comedy from our distinguished tour guide… John*. Thriller by Michael Jackson was of course playing as we ascended the (spooky) staircase. We took our seats and settled in for what we hoped would be the ride of our lives.

In every ‘the gang take acid’ trope there is usually some sounnamedrt of wacky misadventure, perhaps a communion with some celestial higher power, and a whole lot of tripping. While some may well bejustified in deeming the antics that are part of the Dublin Ghost Bus tour ‘wacky’ and I did mutter the words “oh, jesus” a few times, the acid was largely a dud. My friend felt the mildest of effects and I, sadly, felt nothing at all. But this was the Dublin Ghost Bus and we were damned if we were going to let something like a lack of psychedelic hallucinations dampen our spirits.

Over the course of the night we were treated (or tricked?) to exactly the type of cheesy scaremongering one would typically except from such an excursion. There was a creepy pop-culture quiz, a spooky sing along and some story-telling about the horrible history of Dublin which was actually not half bad.

Included in the tour were two scary stop offs at perilous points throughout the city. Our first stop turned out to be pretty cool: We descended deep into the bowels of Christchurch Cathedral. We had been advised there would be some audience participation throughout the tour, but that only females could be picked. Over the course of the night I waited for the reasons for this stipulation become apparent, but alas I’m still waiting.

One thing that was apparent was how reluctant the female half of the Asian couple was to be picked for one of the instances of aforementioned participation. Poor little Kiko shrieked and squirmed as John dragged her to the centre of the circle we had formed and, for reasons that now escape me, positioned himself directly behind her as he muttered some tale about the crypt that we were standing in. Spooky.

Then it was back on the bus for more of John’s patented bloodcurdling banter and off to our freaky final destination: St Kevin’s cemetery, the site of the scariest moment of the whole excursion: when I was personally reprimanded by John himself for giggling about some anachronism or ridiculous occurrence he alleged had happened there.

Other notable moments in the graveyard include my date and I’s desperate attempt to take a sneaky slash in a corner of some ruins, ultimately foiled by flash photography, and me whining about how weak the acid was. Thank god for naggins.

And that was it. We pilled back on the bus and were dropped back to our starting point and released back into the mortal realm, a little dazed, a little drunk and only somewhat traumatised.

The Dublin Ghost Bus Tour is confusing to me. I can’t decide whether it’s brilliantly self-aware in a way that could be almost approaching post-modern, or accidentally brilliant, or just brilliantly bad. In any case, it may have been borderline sexist and absolutely ridiculous and chillingly overpriced but one thing’s for sure… it was never dull.

*I’ve actually forgotten his name but let’s say it was John. It was probably John.


Words: Megan Naughton

Artwork: Conor Nolan


Photo credit: Kristen Klinefelter (or Krusten Slimefelter)