By Mike Faricy
On a recent trip to Dublin I received a pleasant call, oddly enough from my twenty-one year old son. “Dad, I’ve seen everything in London in four days, can I join you in Dublin?” I should inform you here and now that my son and I have worked together for the past year. On any given day, we work no more than six or eight feet apart and at the end of most days I head home, sore from laughing over the past eight hours. I love it. A call from him, always enjoyable, held out the promise of new adventures. He joined me seventy-two hours later. I felt one of the best introductions to Dublin that I could give him, would be the Dublin City bus tour.
The tour costs 12 Euros a head and the tickets are good for twenty four hours. We picked the bus up on O’Connell Street, next to the GPO, capturing the front seat on the second story of the tour bus. We stopped at Trinity College to check out coeds. Had a whirlwind look at the Book of Kells, window shopped along Grafton street, walked through Stephen’s Green. The tour took us past the Temple Bar District, and Dublin’s oldest operating pub, the Brazen Head. Past city offices, a life size bronze of sweet Molly Malone, then back across the Liffey past the courts building. It’s a great way to get your bearings, see some things you should see and in our case, gradually approach that Holy Grail of Dublin City sights, the Guinness Brewery.
The brewery is located in an area of Dublin know as the Liberties, so called because the area was free from Dublin tax collection, a circumstance long since rectified by the city council. The brewery tour begins on the first floor of a seven story building and is comprised of interactive stations throughout, you tour at your own pace and yes, it is interesting and fun, made even more so by the Free Guinness token that accompanied our tour tickets.
The Free Guinness is rationed out in pints on the seventh floor, in the world famous Guinness Gravity Bar, a round, all glass room providing a wonderful 360 degree view of the fair city. I’ve been here before and it’s usually jammed with upwards of a hundred people from all over the world. But on this day, middle of the week and off season, there was a thin crowd of just 30 souls. We patiently waited for our pints— some things in life should not be rushed and the proper pouring of a pint of Guinness is one of them.
No sooner had we latched onto our pints, toasted one another with Slainte, than the barman got on the microphone with an announcement. At this juncture I should remind you I work with my son, daily. Oddly, given our heritage, we actually agree on a radio station, I’ll call it contemporary classics. He calls it ancient history, among other things, as he derides my perfect pitch accompaniment to an infinite number of soulful, moving arrangements. Still a victim of youthful opinions he derides such artists as Elton John, Ricky Nelson, groups like the Dave Clark Five, all of Motown and even Fleetwood Mac. It’s at this point, with silky Guinness foam coating my upper lip, that the barman wishes a hearty welcome to none other than Fleetwood Mac. They’re in Dublin as part of a world tour, and here, with the two of us, seeking health and nourishment from a pint of Guinness. A year of derisive comments are forgotten in an instant and my son yells to the barman he’s good for a pint to every member of the band and their entourage. A neat trick since he had no money. It was the quickest service I’ve ever witnessed up there, fully a dozen pints were distributed to these aging rock and rollers and they hoisted their glasses towards my son in thanks. It doesn’t end here, nothing would do but the women, Christy McVee and company, sauntered over to personally thank the lad, who’s not paying by the way. They do more than thank him, they fondle him, rub his shoulders, hold his hand. When they leave he tells me, “They were really old, probably about forty.” Thanks my lad, forty is such a distant shore, I can’t even see it when I look back through the fog. Owing to my advanced age, I need the rest room on our way out and we arrange to meet in the first floor gift shop.
Maybe it’s their life style, but rock and rollers, even ‘old ones’, work fast. By the time I stroll down seven flights of stairs the female contingent of Fleetwood Mac have Mister ‘Buy A Round On The Old Man’s Tab’ with his shirt off, in the gift shop and they’re selecting a Guinness sweater for him. Apparently, I’ve labored under the mistaken impression, lo these many years, that bald and mature is beautiful. They didn’t seem interested in fitting out some old guy who knows all the words to their greatest hits album. We finally left, him wearing the sweater, to wait on the dark corner for our Dublin City Tours bus. Fleetwood Mac hopped onboard a shiny, deluxe bus labeled World Tour in four-foot letters. But, not before throwing a last wink and a wave in our direction. He’ll never convince me it wasn’t meant for dear, old, dad.