Dublin, Ireland

Saturday, May 12, 2012: Dublin

>Since we were too early to check into Ariel House, we left our luggage there and hopped back onto the DART train to go to Trinity College, where I wanted to see the Book of Kells. This was a major item on my list, and in retrospect I maybe should have waited until I was more awake. Nevertheless, we took a short student-led tour of Trinity College and filed into the Old Library where the Book of Kells, Book of Durrow, and Book of Armagh are on exhibition, all famous illuminated manuscripts over 1000 years old. The Old Library is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and there were more manuscripts on display down its long hall.

But do you think that I remember much of this? No. I have a hazy memory of nudging myself into a double circle of tourists looking at the books through a glass case, and old books on tall wooden shelves to the top of tall ceilings and ladders, and to prove it wasn’t a dream I came home with a couple of refrigerator magnets from the gift shop. So thank God for You Tube:

Then we gave in and went back to Ariel House, where we slept for a few hours. They say that you should force yourself to stay up and get on European time the very first day. I say they must have slept within the 24 hours prior to landing in Europe.

When we arose, the woman at the front desk gave us a map and circled some pubs and restaurants she thought we’d like within walking distance. It was a bit cool but a fine afternoon for a walk. The first pub we stopped at was O’Donoghue’s, where the notes of fiddles and flutes were wafting out the door. We ordered a couple of pints of Guinness, tipped the bartender, and found seats in a small room behind the room with the music and the bar. There was a family from Portugal, a group of locals who seemed to be talking about politics, and a good-looking young couple who seemed to be very in love with each other. We toasted our old friend George O’Rourke, and ourselves.

I walked into the front room to take a photo of the musicians, and an old man sitting at the bar stopped me, welcomed me to Ireland, and introduced me to his cousin Jerry.

When I returned, Sandy was talking with the Portuguese family. They left, and the young woman across the room began talking to us. Soon she and her boyfriend joined us and gave us advice on where to go during our very short time in Dublin. They also advised us about tipping. We found out from them and others that the Irish don’t make their bartenders and waiters live off tips like they do in the U.S. so the tipping culture is quite different.

These two, Niamh and Johnny, became our first Irish friends (on Facebook as well!). We would find out that we would never lack for conversation at any pub if we were open to it. And we would discover, when we heard his song on the radio later that week, that Johnny and his band, The Aftermath, are accomplished musicians. I hate that our photos from this night are unfocused, because it was a great introduction to Irish pubs and people. We genuinely felt welcome to the Irish party. (2020 Update: Niamh and I are still friends on FB and Instagram.)

We explored around the older part of Dublin until we found O’Neills on Suffolk St., a large pub with lots of little nooks up and down stairs and a “carvery” (what we would call a buffet, I guess) that Johnny and Niamh recommended. We ate Irish stew and stuffed chicken, drank Smithwick’s, bought a t-shirt, and headed back to the guesthouse. There was a time when Sandy and I could have stayed up and partied with the best of them, but those years are long gone, and we knew it. So we did what we knew in our nerdy hearts was best – we got some sleep so that we could hit the museums on Sunday with some fresh energy.

Next – Sunday, May 13, 2012: Dublin

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