Traveling to Ireland with my mother: Part 1

Somewhere in between making everyone do my bidding for my birthday and attacking asthma with the Force, I went to Ireland. And I brought my mom.

Here is a summary of the trip: It was perfect. End of summary.

But just in case you are planning to take a trip to Ireland with your mother and she is exactly like my mother, or you are my mother and have been waiting months for me to write about this, here is a slightly more detailed summary.

Part 1: Pre-Travel Panic, Food Hoarding, and Dublin

Our first stop in Ireland was Dublin – but first we had to get there. My mother and I are nervous flyers, so I chose to go to happy hour the night before. Mom chose to stay at my apartment – and text me this:

It was cleverly hidden in my fridge.

When we did make it onto the plane, it was a short jaunt to Chicago. I will never again transfer through O’Hare. The distance between terminals can be measured in human misery. From Chicago, we flew Aer Lingus (I would definitely fly with them again), and our plane was called the Saint Patrick, which is a pretty special thing for us.

There’s a saying in my family: “They mean for me to have these.” My grandmother used to say it right before she cleaned out a restaurant’s supply of Splenda, Half and Half, whatever. Ma and I were unable to leave any leftovers, starting with the plain bread rolls on the airplane. We then carried our “food bag” from city to city to city.

Food bag, deconstructed

Food bag, deconstructed

Here’s some advice for you: pay attention to your arrival time. If, for instance, you arrive in Dublin at 5:00 a.m. and you can’t drop off your bags at the B&B until 8 and even then can’t actually check-in until 12, maybe hang out at the airport for a while. It’s warm there, they have coffee, and – is that a MN Twins game on TV? (It was!) If you choose to ignore this advice, your mother’s first view of Ireland is going to be dark streets, her first beverage will be a crappy coffee in a freezing train station, and her first activity will be surreptitiously thawing out her feet in a convenience store. This is not what you want.

But you will also get to watch the sunrise over the Liffey, if you are into beautiful things.

But you will also get to watch the sunrise over the Liffey, if you are into beautiful things.

We also tried to keep ourselves awake by visiting a library with a thousand-year-old Bible and shelves straight out of Beauty and the Beast. Mom was a good sport, but really only nerds like me or Lacy could possibly find this stimulating after being awake for 30 hours. And possibly Liz Lemon.

trinity college

This was my “So many different types of sparrows!” moment.

The rest of day one involved a nap, dinner, and a pint of Guinness at a pub populated only by cursing old Irish men betting on horse races. Guess which one of these things was my favorite.

Day two began with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. I wanted to do it right away, just so my mother would know how this trip was going to go. Bonus: She also didn’t really want to drink her free beer at 11 a.m., so bonus black stuff for me!

Guinness Storehouse

When I pour stouts and want to get fancy, I draw an "S." I did not pour this stout.

When I pour stouts and want to get fancy, I draw an “S.” I did not pour this stout.

After Guinness and lunch, we tried to go to Dublin Castle, but it was closed to the public…and had been for about six months. I probably could have researched this before. Instead, we went to Kilmainham Gaol, which was fascinating. I don’t know if any of my ancestors spent time there, but we did find our family name mysteriously carved into a cell’s doorway which was good enough for me. And it is featured in basically every Irish period drama featuring a jail, which is basically every Irish period drama, which is basically every Irish movie you’ve heard of aside from Waking Ned Devine.

Next time: Glendalough, Cobh, and Driving in Ireland Without Hurting Myself Or Others!