No, Mapquest didn't get it wrong. The Irish ambassador to the United States wanted to stop by the Irish Embassy Pub in
Durango on Monday.
It was a business trip of sorts, Michael Collins said.
"This is where we do our work every day," Collins joked.
Like many European travelers, His Excellency was in Durango on vacation, visiting friends on a swing through the
Southwest. He was there for most of the Embassy's happy hour, talking global politics and soccer, shaking hands and
partaking of a Smithwicks or two.
And seriously, he said, Irish pubs are one of the country's largest exports.
"Everywhere you go, in every major city around the world, you will find an Irish pub," he said. "There's a sense of
Irishness in here which a lot of people want to feel."
He said he's been to many, and that Embassy owner John Fingleton got this one right, calling the pub on Main Avenue -
which gets its tables, chairs, lights and Guinness barrels shipped in from Ireland - a "lovely, dignified place."
Collins talked about the unique relationship between Ireland and the U.S. The island nation of 4.4 million people has
spread its culture primarily through emigration for more than a century. Forty million Americans today claim primary
Irish ancestry, and more than 70 million people from around the world claim Irish heritage.
"We're very proud of the Irish in America," he said.
He even counted U.S. President Barack Obama "one of us," and said the president, whose mother has Irish roots, needs
to add an apostrophe between the "o" and "b" in his last name.
He talked about British Prime Minister David Cameron's recent apology for the "Bloody Sunday" killings in 1972, when
14 Irish protestors were killed by British troops in Derry during a civil-rights demonstration.
"It was a wise move on (Cameron's) part. It was a tremendous healing moment for Ireland," Collins said.
Fingleton took Collins downstairs to the pub's Ambassador Lounge to get out of the unlikely humidity upstairs. Many
public houses in Ireland have quieter private lounges away from the main bar.
Fingleton said Collins is the second "ambassador" to visit the lounge, after Mick Ward, who retired to Durango with a
dream of opening an Irish pub. Ward, who died three weeks after the Embassy opened two years ago, wanted to call it
an "embassy," because that's how Irish he felt the place should be.
Fingleton could think of two other Irish expats currently living in Durango, one of whom is head coach of the
defending national championship Fort Lewis College men's soccer team, Oige Kennedy.
Collins was impressed when Fingleton told him Kennedy was the son of Dave Kennedy, a former pro footballer in England
in the 1960s and 1970s.
The diplomat called Thierry Henry's handball against Ireland in World Cup qualifying "such a shame."
"(Playing in the World Cup) would have meant so much more for Ireland than for France. It would have galvanized the
Collins, 57, is married with three adult children. He has served as Irish Ambassador to the U.S. since 2007. He
joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1974, and since has served in Rome, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the Czech
Republic and the European Union.
Monday, he was prepared to visit Silverton after a few more stops on Main Avenue.
He'll leave town Wednesday.
There was talk of tubing the Animas today.