Our second day started with a full Irish breakfast in the hotel. It was good but a bit industrial.

After walking around exploring and getting lost, we finally found the start of the free walking tour. Just in time for the rain to start.

Our guide was Kieron, pronounced keer + awn, and he stood in the rain introducing himself while we took shelter under a building overhang.

We went by Dublin Castle, now home to the tax man. He told us about Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal, where he proposed the Irish would sell their babies to the English as food.

He also shared some interesting history about Christchurch Cathedral. It was built by Protestants then abandoned.  A tavern opened, followed by a distillery and a brothel. Later, when Catholics took over, the organist found a mummified  cat and mouse in one of the pipes. He put them in a glass box and brought them to the crypt. And they’re still there.

Another big stop was Trinity College. Originally it was only open to Protestants, but now it’s open to all, and many international students attend.

After 18 months, all students are invited to take the Scholar exam. Successful candidates receive free tuition and accommodations for life plus €1500 per year of study.  All Christian students also have free access to the chapel for their wedding within 7 years of graduation.

We also learned about some recent history. The Dublin Spire cost €4 million. Kieron contacted the city and couldn’t get anyone to explain what it represents. There is no plaque at its base either. So he calls it the Stiffy on the Liffey.

We ended the tour at the statue of Molly Malone. We learned that she never existed but likely symbolized the women of her time. Legend had it that if you rub one boob it brings you good luck. We got some strange looks from other tourists but soon they were rubbing one too.

Inside the Ladies' Room at O'Neill's

Inside the Ladies’ Room at O’Neill’s

Our guide had invited us to join him for a pint at O’Neill’s at the end of our tour. He and another guide, Conner, had plenty of funny stories to share about life as a guide. To make a living at it, you really need to be a good actor, always on your game.  I asked Conner  who tips the best. He said Canadians and Americans tip the best, followed by Germans.  The cheapest … the French, followed by the Argentinians.

Next post: The real walking begins

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