Dublin, Ireland — August 23, 24 & 29, 2013

We had a direct flight from Kristiansand, Norway to Dublin, Ireland on Aer Lingus.  We caught an Express Bus from the airport to downtown Dublin, where we schlepped our luggage to our hostel Abigail’s in Temple Bar.  Our room was equipped with four beds, but Barb had reserved it just for us, so we were comfortable.  Breakfasts in the downstairs lounge area were available as part of the room fee, and although they were nowhere near as bountiful as those we had in hotels in Norway (although this was a hostel and not a hotel), they were several orders of magnitude better than those typically available in American hotels. Not sure why Barb decided to switch us to a hostel but maybe it had something to do with some of the expensive hotels we stayed in during our time in Norway.  (The exchange rate of the US dollar didn’t help either.)

We did a fair amount of exploring by foot in Dublin.  We particularly enjoyed visiting the museum Dublinia which covered the early history of Dublin, with major components on the Viking and Medieval periods.  Of course, Barb insisted that we poke our noses into Christ Church and St Patricks Cathedral and we also had a pleasant walk through Trinity College, Merrion Square, Iveagh Gardens and St. Stephen’s Green.  All that walking stressed my arthritis-plagued ankles, so Barb struck off on her own to pick up a small rental car in preparation for our trip to County Mayo.  Her progress was delayed when she encountered the scene of an accident just after it had happened.  Somehow, in swerving to avoid hitting something, a car had tipped onto its side!  The upturned car was right in the way of the exit/entrance to the rental shop, so there was a bit of a delay before Barb could get our car.  The driver (who was fine) could not have been going very fast in the narrow city street.  Yet, when we had our accident in Norway, we were going faster than 60 mph.  I said it in our last post and I say it again:  we were lucky.

In Ireland, of course, they drive on the left side of the road, and so the steering wheel is on the right side, with the gear shift on the floor to the left of the driver.  As she drove back toward our hostel, while waiting for a traffic light she was just congratulating herself for doing such a good job of adjusting to the differences when there was a tap on her window.  She was sitting in the right lane — which of course belonged to the opposing traffic!  After that, she turned the driving over to me.

We later used the car and the mapping function on Barb’s iPad to find and visit the Guinness brewery.  Their display is in a huge building that formerly was used for brewing and storing, but now all seven floors are used for the display.  The top floor contains a bar at which all of the adult visitors have the option of a free soft drink or a free pint of Guinness.  Barb had her first Guinness and became an instant fan.  For the rest of our visit we tried to have our meals in pubs.  Can you guess why?  By the way, we certainly had no trouble finding pubs; they are even more common than rum shacks are in the Caribbean!

On August 25 we took the small car to County Mayo.  But we’ll describe that trip in the next blog.  For now, I’ll simply mention that when we returned to Dublin on August 29, Barb satisfied a request of her father and sought out the church (Our Lady of Lourds) that contains the crypt of Matt Talbot, 1856-1925.  Although not a formal saint, he is known as the patron saint of alcoholics. After 16 years of alcoholism he maintained 40 years of sobriety. Barb arrived just as the priest was locking the doors of the church but he was more than willing to keep it open to show her around and to share with her information about Matt Talbot. The priest said that many people from overseas stop in because of Matt Talbot but most are from the USA and Canada.  He brought out a chain that Talbot wore as a symbol of his devotion to the Church and had Barb put her hand on the box containing the chain while he said a prayer for her family.  Her father should be pleased.

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