I’m just back from a lovely weekend in Dublin. I flew over on Aer Lingus on Saturday morning and came back Sunday afternoon. I was lucky: the weather was almost as welcoming as the wonderful Irish people.
Unbeknownst to me, I chose a weekend with a major international rugby match (Ireland vs. New Zealand) going on and also Fall Graduation at Trinity College. So, the plane was packed and the downtown area in Dublin was lively.
My first stop was a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, a “museum” built into an old Guinness warehouse. The dramatization of the history of Guinness and how its four ingredients become pints of “Black Gold” is a bit of stretch but worth the visit. Naturally, there’s a gift shop with more Guinness-labeled goods than you can believe, and your stroll through retired barrels and vats and vintage brewery machinery takes up most of your time. But the highlight of the tour is taking in a wonderful 360-degree view of Dublin from the top of the building… while you sip your complimentary pint of Guinness. And, I have to admit, it really does taste better in Dublin. Sadly, the variety I have become fond of, Guinness Red, is only available in the UK, but I made do with the original.
Then a stroll through the pedestrian shopping area along Grafton Street, a visit to Trinity College, and a peaceful tour through St. Stephens Green (a Victorian park) used up the rest of the afternoon. Dublin is a city of 1.5 million and 60% of them are under 30, so the place has a hip, young feel to it and lots of energy.
At 5:00pm I went to O’Donohughes Pub to see the rugby match on TV and take in some traditional Irish music. The tiny place was packed, Guinness flowed like water, and the Irish took a licking from the astonishing New Zealand team, losing 3-22. The Irish music was uneven and a bit of a disappointment but the general experience was lots of fun, nonetheless. The night wore on and more and more people jammed into the place; I finally called it a night when I just couldn’t face drinking another drop of Guinness and it seemed too crowded for me.
This morning the elevator door opened for me to get on and there were four of the New Zealand players! The five of us made a tight squeeze on the elevator and I only took up about 5% of the space. The world champion team was staying at my hotel and I got a good look at them over breakfast. Impressive!
I was back at Heathrow by 3:00pm Sunday and, sure, the door-to-door time invested in getting to Dublin was probably not worth it, but I was able to use frequent-flyer and –sleeper miles so the cost was low and I’m quite glad I made the effort. I’m sure I felt the spirit of my Irish ancestors on my mom’s side approving.