After breakfast on Friday morning, Bill and I wondered what we should do. We had big plans for the afternoon, of course. The gates for our concert were to open at four o’clock sharp. But we didn’t have anything in mind for Friday morning, other than wandering around this previously undiscovered part of Dublin and maybe drinking a pint or two.
These things were all over the city… everybody on board wears viking horns. They are the Dublin Viking Splash tours. We didn’t bother with them, but they appeared to be very popular.
As we walked toward St. Stephen’s Green, we happened to notice a very festive looking house that turned out to be The Little Museum of Dublin. Coincidentally, I realized I needed to pee. This is not the first time nature’s call has led me to interesting places.
A guided tour at The Little Museum of Dublin runs for 29 minutes and yes, they do have toilets. Aside from that, the tour itself is very entertaining. We happened to join the 10:30 tour, led by a very witty young lady named Fiona. For ten euros a head (eight euros if you buy online), she told our group all about Dublin’s history. Not only was she a very good public speaker, she was also pretty hysterical, which didn’t make my need to pee less urgent.
One of the rooms in The Little Museum of Dublin.
You could have a good time checking out all of the stuff in this room.
For the first time ever, I found myself making notes as I listened to a tour guide. There were just too many funny quips to remember. My nerdy husband, Bill, happened to be the only one in the group who had read all of James Joyce’s Ulysses. This isn’t the first time Bill has been a prized pupil of Irish literature. He annoyed a bunch of fellow cruisers on Hebridean Princess last fall by knowing more about Irish folk tales than our tour guide did. He kind of puts me to shame, too, because I majored in English when I earned my bachelor’s degree, while Bill was an International Relations major. However, Bill also has a lot of patience for stream of consciousness writing, which is probably why he’s my biggest fan.
Fiona, the fantastic and fearless Dublin expert.
Guinness: It gets you drunk.
I began taking notes when Fiona started telling us about Brendan Behan, a “drinker with writing problems” who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish writers of all time. I continued taking notes as she talked about how things changed in Ireland during the 1970s, quipping that the “60s didn’t happen in Ireland until the 70s.” Fiona introduced me to the wonders of “Monster Munch”, which is apparently a crappy Irish snack food shaped into “monster feet”. The baked snack was immortalized by an artist named Caroline McCarthy who gold-plated them. Basically, her statement was that Monster Munch looked and tasted great but was basically a bunch of crap.
Fiona also told us a funny story about Muhammad Ali’s visit to Ireland in 1972. The man was known for his one liners and rhymes. When he was onboard an Irish aircraft, he refused to put on his seatbelt. He told the flight attendant, “Superman don’t need no seatbelt.”
Unimpressed, the Irish flight attendant shot back, “Yes, but Superman don’t need no aeroplane.” Yet again, I was delighted by the quick wit of the Irish. Fiona told us that the Irish had been laying claim to every U.S. president… except for the current one. The mostly American group in her midst laughed.
Don’t use this gas mask!
We also learned that during World War II, Ireland remained neutral. However, there was still a lot of danger due to the war, so citizens were provided gas masks. The gas masks were, however, more dangerous than the air was. Fiona told us that the masks were full of asbestos. Other exhibits included entire rooms devoted to the Irish band U2 and the Irish Times, which Bill has proclaimed an excellent newspaper.
The place to learn about U2.
Toward the end of her presentation, Fiona asked us all to write reviews on TripAdvisor, but only if we intended to award five stars. I routinely write reviews on TripAdvisor and would happily give her five stars and mean it. We really enjoyed the tour and learned a lot. And the big bonus was, I got to pee. If you visit Dublin, I highly recommend visiting The Little Museum of Dublin. It really does deserve all of the awards it’s won.
And the Irish Times!
You can’t go anywhere in Dublin and not run into at least one quote by Oscar Wilde.
Or other famous Irish writers…
Those boat/tour buses were everywhere!
The outside of the museum.
Which also has its own cafe!
After we visited the museum, we crossed the street and walked around St. Stephen’s Green, which is a very lovely park. Unfortunately, I got distracted by Facebook because I had shared a news article about Donald Trump’s visit to London. It so turned out that Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt were due to play in London on July 15th. I didn’t know Trump would be in the UK this past weekend, but when I read about the protests there, I was really glad I opted for us to go to Dublin instead of London. I’m sure London was even more of a zoo than usual. Don’t get me wrong– I definitely love London and we’re long overdue for a visit, but I think Dublin was nicer. I think there were four performers at the London show– Martha Reeves (of Martha and the Vandellas) was also playing– and the gates opened at 1:00pm for over 60,000 people. I was exhausted enough after the Dublin show!
A Facebook friend of mine had come through Heathrow Airport the day prior. She had gone to France on vacation and arrived in London’s biggest airport just in time for Trump’s visit. My friend was my accompanist back when I studied voice in college. Now, she is a piano professor at my alma mater. Her husband is a great saxophonist who also teaches there. In fact, he taught me sightreading. She was congratulating me on scoring tickets to the big concert in Dublin and I was thanking God I opted for Ireland over England this time.
Anyway, I did manage to take photos of the park, which are shared below…
We did have clouds on Friday, but by the early evening, they were gone and the weather was perfect!
Interesting Catholic church.
One of Dublin’s famous residents.
One for the music lovers among us.
And more visitors to come. I wouldn’t mind visiting again to see Graham Nash or even Rosanne Cash.
Boston College even has a branch in Dublin.
Soon, it was time for lunch. We opted to stop by Chambers Pub and Cocktail Bar, an excellent watering hole very close to the Merrion Hotel. We liked it so much we stopped there twice. Our first time was for Friday’s lunch, where we enjoyed a marvelously local repast. I knew I was going to like the place when we walked in and James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind” was playing… A red haired and bearded barkeep came out to take our order and told us about his travels in Austin and San Antonio. Since we lived in San Antonio before we moved to Germany, it was pretty cool to compare our experiences… or should I say it was “hot”? Because hot is definitely one thing Texas is.
Bill decides on lunch.
He had fish pie, which included potatoes, shrimp, mussels, salmon, and the like, covered with mashed potatoes. It was cool enough in Dublin on Friday that this was very nice. I think I’d especially love it during the cold months, but it was fine on an unseasonably cool July day, too.
I went with seafood chowder, which was much the same as the fish pie minus the mashed potatoes. It was delicious! I grew up near the ocean, so I love seafood. It was great to have it so fresh after years in Germany.
My chowder came with bread– Irish soda bread and a crusty baguette… and of course, Irish butter.
We decided to have dessert and we both had Irish coffees.
And Bill helped me with this blackberry, blueberry, apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. I love crumbles!
I can’t resist taking pictures of public health signs in restrooms.
A shot of the bar. It’s actually much larger than this. We really liked Chambers’ Pub and Cocktail Bar. If we get back to Dublin, we will have to stop in again.
Everything we had here was great!
As we were finishing up our lunch, two American guys sat next to us. They were brothers from Ashburn, Virginia. I know very well where that is, since I lived in Northern Virginia during two time periods of my life. The guys had come to Ireland to celebrate a 50th birthday and see relatives. They asked for recommendations, having just landed in Dublin that morning. We told them to go see Fiona at The Little Museum of Dublin! And we also told them to take a train to Kilkenny and visit the Smithwick’s Visitor’s Center. Dublin is such a friendly place! It’s impossible not to talk to people… even people from your own homeland!