Posted by: Peadar Ban | June 7, 2012

“You Are Welcome Home” – September 10, 2011

There is not much to do aboard a crowded airplane.  I did all of it from my seat on the aisle.  I eavesdropped on the conversations going on around me and dozed.  I watched the progress of the flight on the tiny TV screen in front of me and dozed.  I read the gift catalogue, fiddled with the program channels and dozed.  I ate a terrible meal, listened to crying babies and dozed.

Mariellen, who was trapped inside in the four across mid-section of the plane did much the same thing with remarkable patience.  But, it was only five short hours.  And we could at least do it while sitting.

A lot worse has happened to so many others.

Soon enough, night became day and we began to slide down across Ireland into Dublin.  We landed at about 8:00 am Dublin time.  It was our second time landing in Dublin; this time exiting into the new terminal, a place with a bewildering amount of glass and steel tubing, exposed structural beams and struts that did nothing for me but confuse.  We followed the crowd to our baggage, zipped through immigration and customs and , after a bit more confusion, found our way in the early morning over to the old terminal in a bit of a shower beneath a partly cloudy morning sky.

Dublin Airport On A Busy Saturday Morning

With a little difficulty we finally found the Dan Dooley car rental desk tucked away in a corner and took our place in a growing line of newly arrived customers.  The one clerk, a young fellow with a harried look which kept getting more so as he glanced at the patient customers slowly materializing before him, was, for me at least, a kind of welcome to the new Ireland.  From his clipped accent I thought he might be a German.  A few minutes later when we had finally become the objects of his immediate attention I asked him where he came from.  He was from the Ukraine.  And, he was not alone.

After our business with the young Ukrainian Celt, we went back outside to take a shuttle to the car rental lot a couple of miles from the airport on the main road down to Dublin five or so miles away.  Our destination was the Four Seasons Hotel in Sandymount, not too far from the American Embassy, the mother house of the Sisters of Mercy, the former home of my cousin Alphonsus (really!) and Donnybrook, a nice quiet place in its own right.

Dublin has always been a puzzle.  In the first place there is an assumption, as there is in Boston, that everyone in the town at any time was born there, so such things as street and road signs are more often than not, it seems, hidden behind something else, or just not present, or too darn small to see.  Also in Dublin, as in Boston, it seems that it is the law a street or road may not be known by the same name for a distance greater than 500 yards.  Along that length it may also change from being called a street to a lane, path, by-way or alley, before it becomes something entirely different altogether.  Add to this left hand drive, roundabouts and maniac drivers and the whole thing becomes a rendezvous with destiny, always harrowing and sometimes harmful.  Well, at least it was a mostly un-rainy day.  There is always something to give thanks for.

So we began.  They had given us a GPS device, a navigational aid which should have been a help.  It wasn’t.  In addition it had the same annoying voice, a woman’s upper class English accented voice whose sole message, it seemed, was to tell us it was recalculating.  We quickly got rid of it, hiding it somewhere in the little car that was barely bigger than the two of us; and all we needed, really.

Things were fine until we got off the “high road”, the M-1 into Dublin.  But, while I new next to nothing (don’t laugh, or nod your head), I knew that the hotel was south of the Liffey River and the airport was north of it.  I also remembered a bit about the embassy’s neighborhood from having been to Sandymount previously.  There was a glimmer of hope we would get where we were supposed to go before dark.

Crossing the Liffey, that fabled and much sung stream which can be swum across in a few strokes, on a new bridge, after only a few missed and wrong turns, we found ourselves in more or less familiar territory.  I was thankful, too, it was Saturday morning and the madmen were still abed.

A Sign I Could Read, But Could Not Understand, And Two Viking Women Making an Early Morning Raid On Dublin

Crossing the Liffey

We were headed for the Four Seasons Hotel on Simmonscourt Road, not too far from Landsdowne Stadium.  I knew that neighborhood a bit.  Cousin Phonse used to work at the stadium.  He lived in Sandymount and I’d been on Merrion Road which ran by the hotel on one side.  I simply followed the signposts for the stadium.  When I saw that in the distance, and passed the embassy, with its yawning Garda lounging in front keeping terrorists at a safe distance, I knew I wasn’t far.  One of the fellows at the car rental place had given us a clue, too.  he told us there would be a large exhibition hall just before we arrive at the hotel.  Even so, I drove right by Simmonscourt Road, and had to make a u-turn.

It had only taken about 45 minutes of a 20 minute drive.  I felt good finally parking our little car next to a dozen or so Mercedes and what alls littered about the front.Another Eastern European Celt opened our door while yet another rushed to get our luggage an we processed into register and relax.  We were greeted by an Italian Celt at the desk with charm, grace and good humor at seeing Ma and Pa Kettle show up.  No one thought us at all out of place, but i couldn’t help wondering what might be said once we were on the way to the room.

It, by the way, was gorgeous, on the third floor looking north, above a courtyard and bigger than three of my rooms together, any three, back home.

A Nice Place to Visit

The bed itself was bigger than the car we had rented.  We liked it!  After a few minutes making ourselves comfortable, we went back downstairs to get ourselves a little breakfast, it still being a little before 11:00am.  While

Mariellen at Morning Tea making Sure We Are Where We Should Be

waiting for a table we had tea in the lounge off the lobby and began to feel as if we were to the manor born.

Breakfast allowed us to understand why we haven’t traveled this way in the past.  It is quite possible that we will finish paying for it some day, but so is travel to the nearest star.  And so, the adventure began:

A Little Nosegay In a Cozy Corner of the Breakfast Place

We had the Table d’Hote breakfast.  Over here that would be the Breakfast Buffet.  With not single service package of corn flakes in sight I was forced to eat a lot of smoked salmon and fresh fruit and cheese.  Our waiter, a nice fellow from some place in Ceylon did his best, but blanched when I asked for a pint.  No, I really didn’t.

We finished and went back upstairs to arrange ourselves for the day.  More of that later.


  1. A luvly beginning, I look forward to the continuation. Serendipitously, Betty and I, being in Da Bronx for a few days, just returned from gorging ourselves on a “Traditional Irish Breakfast” served by a charming colleen at Eileen’s Country Kitchen on McLean Avenue in Woodlawn. With the lilt of her soft brogue still reverberating in my brain and the bangers, rashers, puddings (both black & white), brown bread, hash-browns and over-light eggs still gurgling in my alimentary canal, I can almost feel like I too am in Dublin’s fair city. Slainte!

    • I have eaten there, and have often stopped on the way back from a visit to Da Bronx to load up on scones, etc.

      Thanks, Rich.


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