My mother originally planned to take this trip to Ireland with me, but she got sick and was afraid she wouldn’t be able to keep up. Sandy, the tour director, suggested we bring a photo of her, so she’ll be included.
So we did.
Mom’s picture is in all the group photos, and we bring her out for the most interesting parts of the trip.
Today we did one of the parts she was afraid she’d be unable to do — a three-hour walking tour of Dublin — and I think she made the right decision.
It was absolutely stunning, and I have far too many great photos to post here. But by the end of the tour, my feet were killing me.
We visited Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Temple Bar and Ha’Penny Bridge over the river Liffey.
We saw the place where Handel’s Messiah premiered, the hotel owned by Bono, and the last remaining bit of the old Dublin wall.
We walked past the St. James cathedral, lots of Georgian houses, and Parliament.
We saw the pharmacy where Leopold Bloom bought lemon soap for his wife in James Joyce’s Ulysses, Oscar Wilde’s house and statue, and the graves of Jonathan Swift and Esther Johnson (which came alive for me in Trudy J. Morgan-Cole‘s book, The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson).
We heard some great stories too. For instance, this monument is “The Needle,” and it’s supposed to memorialize some big event, like the new millennium, maybe.
But the Irish apparently love making up names for things, especially incredibly expensive and pointless things (except … ha ha ha … this one definitely has a point!).
A couple of the nicknames for this one are Stiffy by the Liffey, and Erection at the Intersection. Hilarious, no?
After the walking tour, we limped to the restaurant at the Guinness Storehouse for lunch, and then took the tour.
As always, Mom came along.
It was fascinating. We learned the importance of using the right water (Guinness collects theirs from the mountains of Wicklow).
We learned that the yeast used dates back to the 1800s, with every batch fed by yeast from the previous batch, and that a sample of the specific yeast that makes Guinness is kept locked in a safe.
We saw a huge vat of barley and learned that Guinness uses three different kinds: plain, malted and sprouted. We saw hops vines growing fifteen feet up the wall. We saw equipment for roasting, for fermenting, and transporting.
Then we took a glass elevator to the rooftop where a 360-degree bar overlooked the city — and sampled a pint of Guinness.
By the time we got to the bar, my knees were aching from all the walking we’d done, so it was very nice to just sit for a bit, especially since we had such a fabulous view and delightful company.
The Guinness wasn’t bad either — though I’ve never liked beer before. They say you should only drink Guinness in Ireland because it’s best fresh.
Last, we toured St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where we saw an organ G. F. Handel once played and the graves of Jonathan Swift and Esther Johnson.
All in all, a wonderful day.
As we rode back to our hotel in the tour bus, I reached for my bag to get something … and realized my mother’s photograph was not in its place. I dug through the pocket — then dug more frantically through everything I had.
It was gone!
Yes. I did. I abandoned my 81-year-old mother somewhere in Dublin. Well, her picture anyway.
Officially, I left her photograph at St. Patrick’s Cathedral — a glorious space steeped with history, literary references, and music.
Because there is no way — no way on God’s Emerald Isle — I’m going to admit I left my mother’s photograph in a bar after one pint of Guinness.