The efficiency with which Santiago Spain became part of our past and Dublin Ireland became our present was almost dizzying. Taxi from our hotel to the ultramodern airport, 2 hour Aer Lingus flight to Dublin’s ultramodern airport and taxi to our hotel. The only (brief) glitch was at Ireland’s passport control where it seems there was no record of us having left the States and arrived in Europe. Apparently, since we arrived by boat and did not have a followup itinerary, we fell through the immigration cracks. At least on paper we were like refugee “illegal”… boat people!
It didn’t help when the Immigration Agent asked how long we intended to stay and I said “About 2 weeks”. She REALLY didn’t like the “about” part. It never occurred to me that travel is usually a precise thing with a set beginning and end. Our lack of itinerary is an anomaly, and boarder agents become on guard in the face of anomalies. A little explanation and Christine’s disarming smile resolved matters. A stamp in the passport and we were on our way.
We miss walking! After we put our things into our clean and serviceable, but not very elegant room (Dublin is expensive, especially in the heart of the old town. Our room is a very reasonable 90 euros a night), we went walking. 30 minutes later there loomed at the end of the street the House of Jamison Irish Whiskey!
Providence served us up a real treat. Not 2 hours on the Emerald Isle and I was touring and tasting one of Ireland’s great delights. We learned the Distillery’s history which dates to 1780, and it’s dedication to the employees and community. There were the rough spots of 2 world wars, the Easter Rising Insurrection of 1916 where 1,200 men and women openly revolted against England and the roof of the distillery was used as a sniper’s nest, and of course American Prohibition.
The most amazing “tidbit” of information had to do with the “Angel’s share”, that portion of aging spirits that evaporates through the oak barrels and becomes “lost to the Angels”. 2% of aging spirits are lost this way each year. As tribute to the size of the Jamison operation, that means the “Angels” consume 30,000 bottles EVERY DAY! Of course they must be Irish Angels.
The tour and tasting behind us we continued to saunter. Not long thereafter we encountered Christ Church Cathedral. Christine and I were still carrying our Camino Credentials and we entered to see if we could get them stamped. The clerk was delighted to do so, indicating the request was not a common one even though the Cathedral has a special stamp for that purpose. She then invited us to tour the Cathedral and waved the 15 euro charge! Wow, more Angels! However, Camino Angels tend to be of a different “spirit” than the Jamison variety.
The current Christ Church Cathedral is built upon the site of an 11th Century Cathedral church built by Silkenbeard, the Viking King of Dublin. The “modern” Cathedral dates to the 12th Century and is believed to be the first place that King Henry II took communion after the murder of Bishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury. It is also the final resting place of Strongbow, who was instrumental in the Norman conquest of Ireland. The Cathedral contains a remarkable crypt and relics from its history.
Notability absent from the relics is the iron heart that encased the actual heart of Saint Laurence O’Toole, Archbishop of Dublin. The heart was stolen 6 years ago, recovered 2 weeks ago, but for now only the iron cage that once housed the relic remains on display.
Another notable is the mummified remains of the cat and rat which were found in the pipe organ and memorialized by author James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake when he described someone as being “…As stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of that Christ Church organ…”
Enough for now. Ireland awaits and it is the dawn of a new day!
Peace Everyone. Pete