Johnnie Fox's Pub
(May 2 - May 21, 1999)

You can click on "photos" to get directly to the photo page.  Please disregard any dates on the photos as Diane's camera seemed to have a mind of its own as far as inserting a date on the photos she took.

I forgot to mention a couple of things from week one, so I'll start with that for this week's travelogue.  After Diane and I arrived in Dublin and picked up the car, we got some directions to the hotel and a map and headed out.  We had no problem getting to the city limits, but then the fun started.  It seems that the streets in Dublin change names unexpectedly and OFTEN.  It took us about a half hour driving around the city looking for the street for the hotel.  We became very familiar with the O'Connell Bridge because we got back to the intersection three times before we finally headed in the direction of the hotel.  I didn't feel so bad the next day when the guy on my team from Scotland told me that he drove around Dublin for nearly an hour trying to get a bearing.  He took the ferry over and had his own car and was driving around at night, which made it harder to spot street signs, if that is what you can call them.  It's not like you see big signs across the road giving you the name of the street, or even signs on posts on the corners.  Nope.  The street signs are nothing more than little plaques embedded into the corners of the buildings, and they aren't on every corner.  If you want a challenge, go to Dublin and drive in a car with the steering wheel where the passenger seat is, drive on the other side of the road on narrow streets, and try to find a place to which you've never been.  It was interesting to say the least.

And that brings me to the O'Connell Bridge.  I had found a nice Ireland web site,, before leaving the US and I showed it to Diane.  If you check out http// you will see a 'live' shot. (NOTE: I see that this live cam site isn't work. However, there are other web cams in Dublin if the reader is inclined to check them out via a search ending. I have decided to leave the text in place as it was part of our trip at the time.)  So one day Diane called me at work and told me she was at the bridge.  She was calling from a phone near the Guinness building diagonally across from the corner in the picture.  After I told her which corner to go to, she calls me again and asks if I could see her.  She told me there was a bus turning in front of her, so I refreshed the screen and, bingo, there was the bus.  It was a little harder to spot her because the camera is a wide shot, not a closeup.  Once I determined that was a phone booth down the street from the green signs, I was able to see her.  Then I asked her to go to the corner of the bridge and I refreshed again and was able to see her.  Another day last week Diane and Sharon (Patrick's wife) called from the bridge so Patrick and I could see them on the internet.  Then on Saturday morning, Diane and I went over to the bridge around 12:30 PM and I called my daughter in Atlanta and had her 3-way us with my son in NY.  They booted up their systems and found us on the corner.  My son saved the photos and you can check them out if you want.  I'll attach them here.  Pretty slick even if you can't see a closeup.

Also from last week, I should have mentioned that there are some distinguished alumni of Trinity College:  Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker.

Once again we had great dinners all last week.  It ranged from 6-9 folks every night.  I mentioned in last week's note that Tom on our team is a character.  He has this repertoire of 1-liners that seem to come out of nowhere and fit whatever is being discussed at the time.  You never know when a 'Tomism' will come  spewing out.  Like when he was riding in Joe's car, which is kept rather cool.  So Tom nonchalantly asks Joe when his car is next due for service.  Joe tells him and Tom responds "Tell them that the freon works great".  But last week he outdid himself one evening at dinner.  I know you probably had to have been there, but try to picture this.  First, Tom's a 'mature' guy (you know, past middle age - like me), Irish, mild-mannered, funny.  So here we are chatting and we got off talking about someone who had died.  Tom happens to say matter-of-factly "Have you ever noticed in the obituaries that people die in alphabetical order?".  There were six of us at dinner and it probably took all of 3-4 minutes for everyone to stop laughing and drying eyes.  And the fact that Tom never cracks a smile when he says these things makes it all the funnier.  He does keep things lively and makes for fun dinners.

Saturday was targeted to be spent in Dublin as I haven't seen much of the city other than what we see to and from dinner.  Diane and I started out at Bewley's Cafe for a full breakfast, which was great.  Then we did the O'Connell Bridge thing before starting out for the afternoon.  Our plan was to do Dublinia, Christ Church Cathedral, the Dublin Viking Experience, St. Patrick's Cathedral.  We wanted to start with the Viking Experience, but the next tour was 45 minutes away.  So we decided to go to Dublinia and Christ Church a few
blocks away and come back.  Dublinia is a display and exhibition of old Dublin and it depicts the history of Dublin via scenes set up as one winds through the passages in the building.  There is an accompanying cassette player to explain the scenes.  I guess it's not well-known that the Vikings from Denmark and Norway actually took over lots of Ireland at one time.  Several cities that still exist today, such as Limerick, were Viking cities.  The displays also included information about the potato famine and the black plague.  I like stuff like this and it was done very well. 

We crossed over the street to Christ Church Cathedral via the connecting covered stone bridge.  The church was started in 1030 and built up over many years, including major restorations in each century since that time.  This is a Protestant church, belonging to the Church of Ireland, a member of the Anglican/Episcopal Communion.  At one time it belonged to the Benedictines and then Augustinians.  When Henry VIII broke from Rome, the Irish Church had to follow suit.  As cathedrals go, it was nice enough, but I did not find it particularly impressive, certainly not like Winchester or Salisbury in England, or Notre Dame in Paris, or the Duomo in Florence.  It was much more impressive from the outside than from the inside.

After we finished touring the cathedral, we talked about whether we should go back to the Viking exhibit and St. Patrick's or change plans and go to Bray, which a seaside town south of Dublin.  Diane and Sharon had been there and liked the views and the town.  It sounded like something I didn't want to miss and it was a nice day Saturday, so we decided to do go there.  Unfortunately, we were probably 30 minutes walk from the closest DART train station and we had a time limit since we had to be back at the hotel to go to Johnnie Fox's Pub for dinner and show.  So we flagged down a taxi and took that to the Tara DART station.  DART is a commuter line that services the north and south suburbs.  The ride took about 30 minutes.  At one stop, a woman and her husband boarded with what was obviously three of their grandchildren.  They sat near us and the little girl was two and a real cutie.  Very quiet at first as we struck up a conversation with the woman about the area.  She was very knowledgeable and willing to chat.  I took some video of the kids and showed it to them in the viewfinder.  The little girl started to warm up and, by the time we got to Bray, she was starting to be a chatterbox.

Bray started about 800 years ago on the Dargle River.  A church stood on the high ground, the Brae.  In 1173, Walter de Riddlesford, a Norman Knight, was granted the manor of Bray.  The town had a castle, a church, and a mill.  For about 400 years, Bray remained a small village.  In the late 1700s, Bray became a natural stopping point between Wexford and Dublin.  When the railway came to Bray, it developed into a modern town and seaside resort.  There is lots of Victorian and Georgian architecture to be seen.

The scenery was certainly much more pleasant than what I saw last week on the train ride to Cork.  We finally broke out of Dublin and rode along the coast.  The woman on the train told us it was the Irish Sea near Dublin and St. George's Channel near Bray.  There was a lot of beach front with a wide concrete walkway.  So we walked to the end towards a pretty looking hill on which was a golf course.  Then we turned around and headed back on the sidewalk along which were lots of B&Bs.  What was kind of amazing to me was how people adapt to the weather.  It was nice, but very chilly - to me, but then it doesn't take much for me to feel cold.  People were laying out on the grass with short sleeve shirts and even had shoes off.  We even saw a group on the beach, if you can call it that since it was all stones.  They were on blankets, short sleeve shirts, short pants for some.  Brrrrrrrrrrr!

It was time to return to Dublin and get ready to go to JOHNNIE FOX's PUB
.  We had reservations for dinner at 8 PM and the show at 9:30 PM.  This place came highly recommended by an ex-colleague in Atlanta who spent part of her honeymoon a few years ago in Dublin and found this place.  What a great evening it was.  The pub is located about 35 minutes drive up into the Wicklow Mountains outside of Dublin.  It was certainly a pub-like atmosphere and it was packed.  The bar area was packed, the restaurant outside of the show area was packed, and the room where the show is held (also a restaurant) was packed.  And it must be packed every night because it was hard to get reservations.  We had tried to get the entire crew of 11 of us together the prior week, but it didn't work out and we canceled the reservations.  Too bad because 11 people would have been a blast.  It ended up Rufus, Patrick and Sharon, and Diane and me.  The band was four guys doing traditional Irish music and they were great.  Bass guitar, rhythm guitar, mandolin, fiddle.  They played a long set and then took a break.  That's when the dancers came out, three men, three women.  That's about all the small stage would allow.  They were all very good dancers.  Diane and I had taken the kids/grandkids to see Riverdance when it came through Atlanta last year and I LOVE Riverdance.  This show was like a min-Riverdance, but up close.  And they even used some of the Riverdance music.  The place seemed to be a favorite with the locals, too.  Thanks Cristy, that was a great tip to suggest that  we go to Johnnie Fox's.

Sunday we booked a half-day bus tour to Powerscourt Gardens and Glendalough (pronounced glendalock).  The tour was with Mary Gibbons Tours and our tour guide just happened to be Mary Gibbons.  The first stop was the gardens.  On the way there Mary, who was very knowledgeable, told us about the history of the Irish language and its decline in the country, the history behind the potato famine and black plague, the history of religion in Ireland, and much more.  The gardens were some 47 acres of gorgeous grounds once owned by Irish aristocracy.  There are nine main parts to the gardens, but the highlights were:

1.  Italian Gardens - a terraced garden laid out during the 1840s and took more than 100 men 12 years to complete.  There are statues, hedges, flowers, manicured lawn areas, trees.

2.  Japanese Garden - built in 1908.  It contained a grotto built in the late 18th century from petrified sphagnum found on the banks of the River Dargle.

3.  Winged Horses - imported from Berlin in 1869.

4.  Triton Lake - the fountain in the center of the lake was based on the Piazza Barberini in Rome.

5.  Walled Gardens - lots of perennials.

There was this great looking golf course across the road that made me drool.  I would have loved to have had time to play golf over here.  We saw several course on our tours.

After Powerscourt, we drove to Glendalough, which is a monastic complex in a remote valley in the Wicklow mountains.  It was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and was a center of learning and contemplation until the 12th century.  Mary explained how the paganism of the early inhabitants merged with Christianity.  It was pretty interesting.  The Celtic cross that has the circle overlaying the crossbeams is actually representative of the sun god the pagans worshipped.  We had some time to just wander around the grounds to take in the beauty and solitude of the place.  The buildings are all in ruins, but the site still attracts lots of people.  I finally found out on this trip what the prominent yellow flowering bush is that we have seen all over Ireland.  It's gorse.  As soon as she said the word I knew that I had heard it before, but didn't know it was this bush.  Sort of like the briar patch of Ireland because the bush has long spiny thorns.  It is used mostly as a hedge row and you can see how it separates parcels of land and used along the road.  It is also in huge patches of land on the side of the hills and from a distance is quite pretty.

The scenery that I saw this past weekend was more like what I had expected to see in Ireland.  Last week it must have been the route the train takes that didn't let me see the countryside I was expecting.  I saw more of the hills and pastures and sheep and towns that I had pictured about Ireland.

One more thing about Dublin that comes to mind is that, although we feel safe walking around the city, there is a lot of security to be seen.  Heavy metal doors on store fronts, lots of barbed wire and sharp bladed security fences around some apartment complexes and office space.  I asked about that and was told that burglary is a crime that happens fairly often.  One doesn't see a lot of police roaming around with guns.  The 'Garda' are around, but I wouldn't say prevalent on every street corner.  Some are on horseback, some on dirt bike type motorcycles, and some in cars.

Well, that's it for week #2.  We are in our final week and head home on Friday.  I'll wrap up final thoughts about Ireland next week.

Until next time.

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