As we made our way back to the Dublin Castle for a tour, we again found ourselves distracted by the numerous beautiful churches around us. We stopped by the stunning St. Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church to admire the architecture and breathtaking interior.
As we observed the inside of this astonishing building, I noticed a small altar with votive candles on it. As I got closer, I realized that this altar was actually a coin operated votive candle machine, where one would insert the appropriate amount of coins, and then a “prayer candle” would then be lit for a period of time depending on the amount of coinage inserted. Now, perhaps this is common practice, and a way to cut down on the purchase of real candles and such, but I found it rather odd. It wasn’t the exchange of money that I found peculiar - religious establishments of all sorts have each developed their own manner of collection over the years, and I at least understand the concept, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the methodology or use of said funds. What seemed strange was this tangible, mechanical depiction of prayer for one another.
It’s most certainly possible that I read far too much in to this, but to see a small chantry of prayer set up like up a video game just left me feeling unsettled. And there are certainly many aspects of liturgy that still elude me, and I have no problem admitting that outright. All I really can say with any amount of confidence is that I hope in my life, my prayer and petitions to God aren’t reduced to the exchange of currency in a well-decorated machine. I hope they are forged amidst the messiness of community, in the blood of turmoil, and in the praise of the One who set me free. And perhaps one can do this by way of inserting a coin, in which case I praise God for our incredibly diversities here on earth.
We left St Catherine’s and made our way back to Dublin Castle but, of no surprise to anyone, we missed our tour. So we decided to snag some lunch across the street and wait for the next tour to start. I snagged myself some cannelloni and bruschetta, which may seem like a strange purchase while in Dublin, but I assure you that it was mind-meltingly tasty. I almost asked the waiter if they were hiring –it was that good.
So we finally got the tour we had been waiting for. Just us, and three other pleasantly touristic new friends. We learned about the courtyard and the significance of this castle throughout history. They took us to a small chapel that apparently has been used in numerous TV shows and movies in years past. Our guide said that it was likely due to the incredible woodwork and stonework and massive pipe organ that was still in functioning condition today. We also learned that the stonework wasn’t nearly as old as it appeared though. Apparently there was a method of mixing plaster with beer in order to give it a much older, more aged appearance. This method of mixing plaster with beer is evidently where we derive our phrase “getting plastered.”
We learned more about the wonderful architecture, the stained glass, and the Lord of that time who put his image above that of Christ’s in the arrangement. Apparently that wasn’t a particularly popular move in that day, but historians believe that it was because he was drunk with the obsession of being remembered once he was gone, so this was his attempt at longevity.
After we left the chapel we were brought to a fascinating subterranean river under the one remaining tower. The other towers were no longer with us because they were blown up 200 years prior in an effort to stop a raging fire from destroying the rest of the castle. Their plan didn’t work nearly as well as they had hoped. Aren’t we sometimes the explosion that does far more damage than the “catastrophe” we face ever could do? It’s interesting to note that the black river (named for the black plague) still leaked through the walls of this cavernous space.
When the tour was over, we began walking to our next destination and an American and Aussie that we had met during the tour came along for the wandering adventure as well. We discussed politics, sports, economics, and a whole host of other pleasantries until we came upon a high-end liquor shop where the Aussie bought Zach a cigar in honor of his upcoming wedding. Zach however, it strongly opposed to smoking of any kind, but it was a very nice gesture nonetheless.
We then walked to Trinity College and caught a little bit of a cricket game. In the middle of the match, Trav yelled “French!” for no good reason, and we all had a good laugh about it. We walked the wrong direction for awhile until we again found our center point – the lovely river – and began our walk home. Amidst our walking we saw many interesting storefronts, including this deeply poetic portrayal of a rat holding a woman. Truly a deep metaphor for life in all its complexities, no?
Arriving back at our hostel, we picked up our luggage that the clerk kindly allowed us to keep behind his desk for the day while we wandered around the city. We said our goodbyes, and boarded a bus toward the airport. While at a red light on the top level of our bus to the Dublin airport, some ladies in the apartment next to us began making lewd gestures to us as we sat, patiently waiting for the green light. It was a strange and slightly alarming display, but we laughed about it anyways. The Irish are so hospitable.
As we stumbled to the terminal, eager to board our flight to Galway and exhausted from the day’s adventures, the fine folks in security informed us that our good friend Strawberry Jelly wasn't going to be able to accompany us on our journey. This distressed us a great deal because we fully intended on introducing SJ to Off-Brand Peanut Butter and Budget-Buy Wheat Bread the next day, right before we consumed them for energy amidst our day's travels. We asked them if Sir Jelly could join us if in fact he was in sandwich form before boarding, and assuming that we were joking, they told us that would be acceptable.
So we did what any thrifty, money-conscious, suit wearing world travelers would do in this situation- we grabbed our things walked backwards through security, pulled out our supplies, and made all of our sandwiches right there in the lobby, with the use of a couple plastic forks we had snagged earlier in the trip. Here's our proof:
Despite the disgusted and jovial expressions of the other eager travelers who walked past us, we effectively made eight sandwiches ,stuffed them back into the bag that the bread originally came in, wiped the crumbs off of the baggage carousel top that we used as our kitchen, and walked right on back through security. The guards found the entire ordeal entertainnig enough and didn't razz us too badly about our "unique tactics".
When we finally made it to our terminal, the flight attendant informed us that he had to move us from row 8 to row 7, and that he was very sorry for the inconvenience. What was humorous when we boarded the plane was that no one else was seated in row 8 of this flight –or rows 9, 10, 11, 6, or 5 for that matter. Cute little plane. I’m sure they were simply trying to impress us.
By the time we landed in Galway, the entire airport was already shutting down. I’m not eve sure we had an actual human pilot, because there wasn’t a single person around. A couple of us went to the bathroom, and by the time we exited their tidy liquitorium, the lights were already being turned off. As we made our exit, we saw one homely gentlemen whom we assumed was a part of the cleaning “crew” and jokingly asked him if we could go home with him. He of course, didn’t catch the sarcasm in our tone, stared intently at us and said “No you may not”. We laughed it off, and made our way to where we prayed a taxicab might be.
As it turns out, not only was there a cabby there to give us a ride, but it happened to be what I’m certain to be the most intelligent, humorous and kind cabby on the face of the planet. During our hour-long trip, there wasn’t a single thing this man didn’t know, and know well. Every topic we offered he answered with the utmost poise and authority. It was unreal.
As we got closer to the city center, we realized that Trav didn’t know the name, phone number, address, or even street name of the hostel we were staying at that night. Our driver suggested one place, but Trav said that wasn’t it. We pulled up to another hostel, but that wasn’t it either. “Where to?” the cabby inquired. “Uh, forward!” responded Travis. So we drove a couple streets further until Trav shouted that he found it. With some creative maneuvering, we were now in front of our hostel (the name of which none of us know to this day), paid our new friend and thanked him for the conversation, and grabbed our luggage –all while in our suits still, of course.
We made our way upstairs to the front desk, met the nicest receptionist we had encountered thus far, and by 1:30am we had made it to room #7 and immediately crashed.