Shortly before we’d left for Ireland I messaged Sinéad to let her know we’d be “in her backyard” for a few days and to see if she’d be interested in meeting in person. The reply was an enthusiastic “yes” and, so, we made plans to meet with her and Fergal the second day we were in Dublin.
Sinéad offered to meet us at our hotel, noting that she’d always wondered what the inside of the grand old place we were staying at looked like. Having visited her blog many times over the past few years I also had the feeling that her kind nature was showing through and that she was also making it a bit easier for us visitors.
Bewley’s Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin. It used to be the Masonic Orphanage. Decent prices, nice rooms and good food. I recommend the place.
We were to meet at 12:30 and then walk down to meet her husband more-or-less halfway and then have lunch together. I, being the type who likes to be early decided to go out to the lobby at 11:30 and, since the hotel WiFi was not great in the hotel room, spend the time just mucking around on the web for a while.
It needs to be pointed out that we’d never met in person before; instead, our friendship was, up to that point, confined to exchanges on our blogs.
In a simplistic kind of way you can classify those you “encounter” on WordPress into two groups. Group one consists of those whose goal it is to rack up as many views as possible. They generally do this by “liking” or “following” the blogs of others, in the hopes that they’ll get a follow back. Now, there’s nothing wrong in this—after all one of the two main reasons why we write is to have others read our stuff and, maybe, make a living off it. That said, I’ve noticed a distinct thread of disingenuity from some members of that group: they don’t actually read any of the stuff they like or follow. It’s easy to spot if you have a blog like mine; one with limited readership. If you get a follow or like from someone from that group just note the country of origin and then check your stats to see if you’ve had recent views from that country. Chances are you won’t. But I digress.
Then there’s group two, which consists primarily of those who blog because of the second main reason people write: to express themselves. They are the real gems of the blogging community. Their posts are interesting to read, they respond to your comments and, when you post something of interest they’ll take the time to read it too.
Of course, for any given person, group two cannot become all that large. In my case it’s confined to a dozen or so blogs I look forward to. Sinéad belongs to that group and there was no way I was going to visit Ireland and pass up the chance at meeting her in person.
She was already there, her backpack by her side and sitting in a comfy chair beside the same coffee table I’d intended to use. I stopped by the table and grinned at her. She grinned back. Josephine and Lesley joined us shortly after and we spent some time there in the lobby, just chatting. At around 12:30 we left to walk down further into Ballsbridge to meet Fergal and have lunch together. “Now, don’t mind me, I walk kind of slow,” Sinéad said. “Fergal, who’s 6’2” walks pretty fast but not me.”
We set out, heading toward the city centre. Along the way she pointed out items of interest and offer up much more background than I could have possibly found any other way. The walk was around 1.5 km and I estimated that her “slow” walking speed was just barely at sub-light speed. Given what she said, Fergal must therefore leave a warp signature I his wake…
We arrived at the Old Schoolhouse hotel. Fergal was already there and we shook hands and all went inside. Fergal is quiet, thoughtful, sincere. There’s something quite statesmanlike in the way he carries himself and you are left knowing he’d be equally comfortable running a courtroom or a server cluster. It turned out we’d quite a few common interests and found ourselves turning to those from time to time.
After lunch we walked through Merrion Square and saw Fergal back to work for the afternoon. On the way Fergal stopped by the statue of Oscar Wilde and pointed out the house where he’d grown up. It turned out that Sinéad had kindly giver over her whole day to us—a gift we were happy to accept—so, for the remainder of the afternoon she was our guide.
Me and Oscar, hanging out.
First, a stroll through Trinity College. “Would you like to go to see the book of Kells while we’re here?” A quick glance at the long lineup than extended through the entrance-way, “No!” Too bad. Had it not been the height of tourist season, the opportunity to just stand in the shadow of a couple of volumes of that great work of art would have been truly awesome. Not today, though. Enduring a long lineup for just a quick glance was just not worth the effort. Dublin had other attractions.
Lesley with the Pomodoro sculpture in Trinity College
Next, Grafton street: throngs of tourists, shoppers and street artists, all attesting to the vibrant, outgoing nature of the city of Dublin. Everywhere I looked—groups of people chatting away in all sorts of languages.
And buskers—everywhere, along with other…attractions.
Still, mostly too expensive for my station. Having read so much about the outlandish prices one often finds in the Dublin tourist areas I certainly had my doubts about the place. In all fairness it was not quite as bad as I expected, though.
At the head of the street we found the entrance to St. Stephan’s Green. Sinéad pointed out that the entrance was, in fact, a war memorial.
Quietly we walked through the park.
It was coffee time.
The day was coming to a close. Fergal and Sinéad had taken the van in to town that morning and soon it would be time to go home. Sinéad—still looking out for her charges—wanted to walk us back to Merrion Road so we could easily find our way back. We weren’t done with Grafton Street, though, at that point so we elected to stay and explore some more.
We hugged and Sinéad and her backpack were on their way back to Merrion Square.
We explored and shopped some more until we decided we were done.
By that time I’d pretty much lost my sense of direction but discovered that Lesley had not. She led the way and soon we were back at the Hotel.
I had Guinness stew that night. No, I would not be drinking the stout as my fondness for the locally brewed Irish Pale Ales trumped both (1) the incessant marketing as well as (2) the fact that my Grando had worked at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin for all his adult life after being discharged from the army.
And that backpack? I’d wondered a bit about it. It’s not unusual to see a person carrying a tote of some sort, of course. We all have some stuff that we just can’t be without. Backpacks are fairly rare, though. I later discovered that it contained a draft of ”Emmeline,” one of Sinéad’s major WIPs at the moment. She’d, in fact, spent the morning going through it before we met up. Had I known that it would have been difficult for me to not beg for at least a peek at some of it.
I’ll have to wait for it to be published now.