Monday, April 17

Up by 7:00 and downstairs at 8:00 for our first Irish breakfast compliments of Colette.  In addition to the eggs, ham, sausage, toast, brown bread, tomatoes, and tea, she offered a good selection of cereal and what appeared to be freshly squeezed orange juice.  During the next few days we had some delightful conversations with Colette on all kinds of topics.  She’s been to New York City on several occasions to visit her son and likes the Big Apple.

Although Nancy and I purposely left the itinerary for our trip flexible, we had decided back in Lexington that our first solo outing should be a bus tour of the city.  The “grand tour” was scheduled to leave from the bus station on O’Connell Street at 10:15 that morning.  We had to do some determined power walking to make it there on time.  Having only the previous day’s trek to town under our belts, we were far from masters of the Dublin city streets.  Time and time again we pulled out our trusty map. And you guessed it, it was raining again, too.  We slid into the last seats in the top section of our double decker bus just in the nick of time.  Due to the wet weather, there would unfortunately be no open air ride for us as we had hoped.
 

As the bus wound its way through the heart of Dublin, all of the windows fogged up, making it very difficult to see out.  Thank goodness for that wheel of toilet paper the bus company provided for just such emergencies.  Our driver, Mr. Smith, helped make up for the lousy weather with his constant chatter, jokes, and singing.  During the three hour ride we passed by many of the places (Dublin Castle, Christchurch, the Gaol, etc.) that we would visit extensively in the days to come.  When we drove past the statue of Molly Malone, naturally our driver had to break into song:
In Dublin’s fair city where the girls are so pretty, 
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone.
She wheeled a wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow
Crying Cockles and Mussels, A-live, A-live Oh!

Phoenix Park on the outskirts of town was particularly impressive.  We drove by the huge, open field where the Pope said Mass before hundreds of thousands of worshipers in the late 70s.  Off in the distance you could see the outline of the Dublin Mountains, about which our driver had this to say:
 
If you can’t see the hills it’s raining
 and if you can see the hills it soon will be raining.  (How true!)

After the bus dropped us back at the station, we ate lunch across the street at the Kylemore Cafe.  Not surprisingly, potatoes were prominently featured on the menu.  Everything came in large portions, which we had no trouble putting away.  It quickly became clear that we weren’t going to go hungry on our Irish holiday.

Our next stop was the first of many visits to the Tourism Centre, where we hoped to decide on one of several train trips to the countryside for Wednesday.  While we were there, Allie’s friend, Rachel, spotted us and came over to say hello.  It seemed odd to be greeted by someone we knew in a city full of strangers.

Later that afternoon we went to the Trinity College Library to view the Book of Kells exhibit “Turning Darkness into Light.”  The illuminated manuscripts of the four Gospels featured here date from around 805 A.D.  The amount of work and dedication that the scribes, artists, and illustrators must have put into the making of these books is truly mind-boggling.  On the floor above the Book of Kells, we passed through the Long Room, where the Library’s oldest books are housed.  Of course, a couple of librarians like ourselves were especially interested in the books’ classification scheme.  We would liked to have stayed longer, but the exhibit closed at 5:00.
 

We met Allie at the Tourism Centre at 6:00 and headed for dinner.  In honor of my family’s Irish lineage, we went to O’Reilly’s Pub.  The place was filled with the “after work” crowd.  The three of us climbed the steps to the upstairs area, where we ended up in a room that was incredibly smoky.  Even though we had been forewarned about smoke in the pubs, it made me want to either put on an oxygen mask or break out a pack of Marlboro 100s in self-defense.  But since we Americans are such good sports, we all sucked it up and ordered three pints and some pub grub.  Allie went back downstairs to place our orders.  Good food, especially the fried potatoes that came with all of our meals.  Now a smart person would know enough to visit the Toilets after downing a pint of Guinness, but one of us neglected to do so before leaving O’Reilly’s.  Unfortunately for him, he had a very long and extremely painful walk home.  Live and learn!

Allie came back with us to our room.  As Nancy and I nursed our aching feet, we all watched an Irish sitcom on TV.  Something called “Father Ted.”  Not bad as those things go.  “Father Ted” was followed by an episode of “Friends.”  Before Allie went home, we sat around and finalized our plans to go on the Connemara tour on Wednesday.
 

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map of Dublin City Center
 

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Created by Nancy and Dave Badertscher
badertn@rockbridge.net
May 7, 2000