Pub Crawl Failure – My First Taste Of Guinness

I’m a woman who believes in marking an occasion and while I’m not a big drinker, when I learned I’d be spending a weekend in Dublin, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to have my first taste of Guinness in the place it originated. I spotted the sign above on the day we arrived and briefly and I do mean briefly, considered doing the tour, but decided since alcohol consumption was the implied expectation, I’d be a dismal failure.

We squeezed in loads of sightseeing during our Dublin experience, but it wasn’t until our last day that I had an occasion to make good on my plan to have a taste of Guinness. By Sunday afternoon we were trying to find a pub with live Irish music for David and a Guinness for me. Michael was happy leaving the choice to us and having read the reviews for the Oliver St. John Gogarty pub, we chose it for a late afternoon rest stop.

It was our only pub visit and as it turns out, the best choice I think we could have made. Having researched the man the pub is named for, I discovered Oliver St. John Gogarty was the contemporary of a many literary figures of his day and served as the inspiration for several important characters as this snippet from Wikipedia revels ” His most famous literary incarnation, however, is as Buck Mulligan, the irrepressible roommate of Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s Ulysses.”

I left the pub that evening assuming he’d been a publican, but discovered later that he was medical doctor, published author, playwright, and poet who was involved in Ireland’s fight for independence along with Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. 

The Gogarty pub was so much more than I’d expected and the music and atmosphere alone would have made it worth talking about, but the fish and chips … were the best I’ve ever eaten! The tartar sauce alone was good enough to make a southern woman weep.

There’s a saying I’ve heard somewhere that goes like this, “Southerners like to think that God invented fish just so there’d be a vehicle to eat tartar sauce.” Can anybody help me out with the proper quote and the origin? It sounds like something Paula Dean would say.

You can see the musicians in the distance by the windows. They provided a perfect accompaniment to the fun we had and I was well pleased with the whole experience especially the one in the photo below.

You must know by now that I like to document a lot of my expat experiences and having a taste of Guinness in Ireland is worth a snap or two. I’d heard a great deal about the taste and what to expect and I was prepared to find it too strong based on its consistency and color, but I thought tasted a bit like coffee in a way only sweeter than the black coffee I drink. It was heavier than a regular beer and felt richer like a milk smoothy in a health food bar.

While I photographed a pint, I only drank a half. That’s me as you can see having my first taste. I look a little apprehensive, but I was all smiles later. Remember … I barely drink so a few sips in and I was feeling it.

There’s one last thing I wanted to share about Gogarty and it was one I would not have expected. When his return to Ireland was delayed by WWII after completing a lecture tour in the United States, Gogarty applied for and was granted American citizenship and spent most of the rest of his life in New York where he wrote for a living after giving up medicine.

So while we skipped the literary pub crawl and our consumption of Guinness was pretty limited, we still managed to choose the one pub with something for all three of us. Without knowing the history of the man that Gogarty’s was named for, it seems a happy coincidence that a doctor (David), a published author (Michael), and a (now) Guinness loving expat (me), chose this pub to round out our Dublin experience.

Until next time … Cheers!

Photowalking Through Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green

Photowalking - spellcheck is screaming red warnings that this is not one word, but two that I’m squeezing together to suit myself. A quick Google check reveals that there are groups of people who write it this way all the time so lets ditch the classroom now and move onto the green.

St Stephen’s Green is right across the street from the Fitzwilliam Hotel where we stayed a few weeks ago during our visit to Dublin. The main entrance can be seen in the photo above. The world outside the gates is a busy one with shoppers, cars, and buses all rushing past the edges of St Stephen’s. Inside the park, there are 22 acres to explore, use for exercise, or just rest a while.

David and I did a bit of all three during our Sunday photowalk and it was interesting to see the different things that caught our eye. Obvious to us both when we began was the man who was hand feeding the swans and ducks. After snapping more than a few photos from across the lake, I tried to creep up undetected so I could get close enough to grab a tight image of his hands near the swans.

These are still a bit fuzzy for me, but interestingly I discovered he was talking to the birds as he fed them and when he spotted me hanging around he had a few words for me too.

You can see him waving his hands while telling them what I think was something like, ‘That’s it, no more for today!’ I could hear him saying a few words I recognized, like Mr. and Mrs., but the rest of it was in another language.

After telling the birds goodbye, he turned to me and began to try to explain how he came here everyday to feed the birds. He had very limited English skills, but managed to communicate by way of the months of the year touching his fingers in the same way you might list numbers, that he came very day to feed the birds. I also picked up the word Hungary making me think he was speaking mostly Hungarian which explained our strained verbal exchange.

While I was having a chat of sorts with the very nice bird man, David was taking pictures of me. This was one of my favorites. My friend Patrice said it captures my spirit, but it also shows me wearing my glasses. It’s the rare photo that slips through where I’m actually wearing them as my vain self tends to snatch them off now if I see a camera pointed at me. This never used to be an issue for me as I’ve worn them to see distance since my mid 30s. (There’s a funny story in that which I may share later)

David snapped this one of me hanging over the fencing with my camera around the monument below.

This is the photo I took from my draped fence position. I love to remember that changing the perspective can affect the whole look of something. In this case, I was more interested in the signs of season change coming and the flowers beginning to bloom than I was with the monument of Sir Authur Guinness.

The wild branches of this tree drew me into to this shot just as I imagine it did for the couple sitting on the bench together.

There’s a center part of this park with fountains and wide open places for sitting and watching children while they play or pushing them in strollers (pushchairs) while talking with friends. At least that’s where my imagination went when we walked into this space. I noticed the plaque on the park bench almost immediately and went over to discover another connection to mothers and babies.

Not too long ago I read a book about horror of being put in and left a place created with an idea towards helping girls and women in need who were usually, but not always, unmarried and pregnant. It evolved to the point that a teenage girl might be locked up in a Magdalen institution for being too flirtatious or for having a contrary opinion with a church or family member. It’s a very sad story.

 David took this shot of me trying to get a different view of a bust of Irish novelist and poet, James Joyce.

I think I like him better in black and white. I was particularly interested in his rings and how he wore them on his first and second fingers.

This was my favorite view of his bust and I was glad I was able to capture the couple under his chin.

Around a corner on our way to one of the park exits, we came upon a little cottage that looked as if it belonged in a children’s fairy tale. Ardilaun Lodge was built as a home for the park superintendent by Sir Arthur Guinness who bought St Stephen’s Green from the city in a dilapidated state and re-landscaped it for public use before gifting it back to the city of Dublin.

 

I thought this tree was gorgeous and took three shots of it quickly hoping to catch the man walking towards me before he noticed what I was doing.

As you can see in the close-up of him taken from the photo above … he noticed.