We were on the coach at 9:30 AM and on our way with Mick, who took time to point out some of the points of interest of where he had grown up. The church he was baptized in, the school he attended and even the spot where, back in 1979, he saw Pope John Paul II's helicopter land prior to his big Mass in Phoenix Park. Turns out that the Vatican "embassy" was located in his town and the Pope went there first with just his staff and two policemen or "Garda" in tow. A kid at the time, Mick and his buddies raced over to the helicopter and had a personal audience with his Holiness. No one else was in sight as most were waiting in Phoenix Park for the Mass. "And we blew it," said Mick. "All we asked him was 'what kind of helicopter are you flying?'" None the less Mick became a town celebrity and interviewed after that meeting with the now soon-to-be saint, as the local faithful would come up and hug e kid who hugged the Pontiff.
Dublin is a place of little details. And I love to look for the bits of Irish history and humanity that Dubliners love to put into their surroundings. For example, an old building on Nassau Street caught my eye as I noticed some excellent, old stone carvings. Not of St. Patrick or some intricate Celtic design, but there on the column was a group of monkeys playing billiards. It was as if the creator was sharing a wink with me from somewhere in the past. That is Dublin, with the great cobbled streets that are a work of art. Dublin, where the meticulous Georgian row houses each are painted with a brightly colored door in an act of defiance to a request by e ruling British to paint their doors black in mourning for the late Queen Victoria. Dublin, where a handful of poets, writers and artists would seize a post office on an Easter Sunday and proclaim Ireland free and then shoot it out with the mightiest army at that time in the world.
We did a tour around the city with Dave at the helm. In particular, a visit to the famed Phoenix Park was very impressive. The park is over 1000 acres, twice the size of Central Park in New York. Deer graze within its seven miles of fences and the park keepers were out to cull the herd while we were there as they routinely over populate their domain.
Dave drove us back into the city and along the river Liffey. We were near the famous Halfpenny Bridge when Dave pointed out a building called Merchants Arch, which had an arch leading to an old market area. As if in a reverie, Dave recalled the time he went to a Lebanese restaurant there as we hovered at a red light. "I was eating there when a belly dancer came to our table,” said Dave. "Really, I did not like it at all. The belly dancer made my couscous less attractive." We all started laughing at the mental image of Dave being belly danced to the point of losing his appetite. It must have been one hell of show.
There were some great lithographs on the wall commemorating the 1798 uprising and the trial of the lead patriot Robert Emmet. A particularly poignant lithograph showed the scene of his execution, in which he was beheaded, (which I understand was sort of a compliment as ordinary thieves were hung) and I was saddened by it. I was also proud that in spite of all the failures, and the brutal repression that followed, Ireland persevered
We walked back toward Temple Bar so Lenny could have a pint at Gogarty's pub. Featuring music from "2:30 to 2:30" we were there to grab a pint and see a duo playing. And sure enough, for the sixth time this trip, I heard Steve Earle's "Galway Girl" sung. I met Earle out in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this summer and wished I could have talked to him more about his Irish connections. But alas he had a show to do and I was keeping him from an appointment with a pre-show port-a-potty. But I did get a nice picture of the two of us out of it. Seriously, I thought how magical it is to know that somewhere halfway around the world someone is singing your song. I long for that day for my own songs, and I hope that comes true.
Some wonderful Irish dancers came and performed with the highlight of the grabbing some of our tour to get up and dance with them, which brought down the house.
Mick and Dave got up and presented the winning Limericks. The Limerick contest has become a mainstay of the tour and in a way a great process of recording exactly what happened. The grand winner was Larry, who wrote about a full bladder on the road to Belfast! We will publish all the Limericks from trip on our website when we get back from Ireland.
Finally the time had come to say farewell. Brian and I played our "Irish Benediction" wishing each of our fellow travelers safety on their journeys until we all could meet again. The final song was the rollicking "Wren" and even some of the Irish step dancers from Taylor's came out to watch us pull off our high kicks.
We snapped a few more pictures, shook hands, hugged and kissed and all made a promise to keep in touch and ne'er forget the great journey we all shared "Traveling down an Irish Road.”
Click here to read Marty's final entry about the 2013 Ireland tour