This was our one day to leave Dublin. I booked a tour of Newgrange and Tara Hill with Mary Gibbons. This tour is highly recommended, and when you first sit down on the bus, you understand why. Mary Gibbons is what every historical guide aspires to become. When the bus started moving, she got on the microphone and started blasting us with information. At one point, I thought we might be listening to a pre-recording, but no, she gave us as much information as a multi-season podcast.
We first stopped at Hill of Tara. The Hill of Tara is associated with the inauguration of the high kings of Ancient Ireland. The grass was very wet while walking amongst the ancient mounds, so our feet were soaked when we returned to the bus. The sun was shining, and the green rolling hills, damp with melting frost, epitomized the emerald nature of the island.
After that, we went to the ancient tomb of Newgrange. It is a 5,200-year-old passage tomb that predates Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its entrance is adorned with carvings that depict spirals, circles, and other geometric patterns. A guide leads you into the internal chamber. On the winter solstice, around December 21st, a shaft of sunlight illuminates the chamber. They have a light to simulate the effect. This phenomenon is believed to have held great significance for the Neolithic people. Before you arrive at the site, the exhibit is excellent and explains much about the site. This may be the oldest site I have ever visited.
A funny part of this tour was Mary herself. When she discovered that Sam is from Lebanon, she gushed her love of Lebanon. She talked about the Irish and Lebanese’s long history because their military was part of the UN deployment to Lebanon. Whenever I tried to engage in the conversation with an anecdote about my travel to Lebanon, she completely ignored me and returned to Sam. When I gave her a tip at the end of the trip, she hugged Sam goodbye. Mary Gibbons: Fantastic Irish Guide and Lover of Lebanon.
After the tour, we shopped before returning to the hotel. We purchased tickets to see The Quare Fellow by Brendan Behan that night. This is an older play and not my first choice, but it was our last night, and if I was going to see theater, this was it. On our way to the theater, we stopped at a gay bar, Pennylane, to have a drink. It’s a smartly decorated, casual, and hip bar that was very close to our hotel. I loved it, and the waiter was a cute Brazilian guy who just arrived in Ireland. Ireland owes a lot to the people of Brazil for making it a way sexier place.
We headed to the Abbey Theater to see the play, and as soon as it began, I knew we had a problem. The actors leaned into thick Irish accents, and I could tell Samer was missing much of it. I was missing some, but I could follow along. For Sam, this was like watching a play in another language. Well, it was not a problem we needed to solve because 10 minutes into the play, a stage director walked onto the stage and said that the play could not continue and was canceled for the evening. The actors were as shocked as we were.
We all wondered if the riots had started again. The woman behind me said, “Is there another right-wing attack?” Everyone started to look around when the stagehand returned to let us know there was an internal problem that had nothing to do with public safety. There was a collective sigh of relief and then a bit of kvetching. My last chance to see a theater in Dublin was dashed.
With time, we decided to get a pint of beer and some dinner at a pub. We walked to the Celt, which was supposed to have music, but it missed it because it didn’t start until 9:30. The Celt is a massive bar that does not have the charm of the CobbleStone. It was loud and swamped with people, so we didn’t wait around after eating. We took one last walk by the river and bid Dublin farewell.
Next: Ireland – Conclusion