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Date: 8/19/99

We raced from there straight to Holyhead at the northeastern coast to catch the 1:45 Stena Line Catamaran Ferry that races across the Irish Sea in 90 mins versus the 3.5 hrs by ferry. It was a monster of a ship and the whole ordeal from getting in line to getting back on the road again was 4 hrs. The ship is incredible. We thought we were on a weeklong cruise. There was a live band playing (tastefully), full restaurants, a McDonalds and Ben & Jerry’s on board, 4 bars, gambling tables, on and on. The Sea was very smooth and the trip was quick.
Driving off the pier in Dun Laoghaire (“Don Larry”) we drive 6 miles north and arrive in Dublin. After trying to set the GPS for Dublin and it shows that are car is out to sea and wondering why my mobile phone won’t work anymore, I finally come to the realization that we are in a foreign country. So now we have to depend on maps and pay phones. The Georgian House Hotel is an expensive creaky old set of Georgian houses hitched together. We wind up with a room on the top floor with 4 flights of stairs straight up. The room is big enough, however, to throw a party and we are walking distance to everything. After Mass at the University (Newman) Church, a quick change in a pub men’s room and a run in St. Stevens Green (he biggest square in Europe), I meet Marcia at McDaid’s Pub. We strike up a conversation with Bob, a Florida man now living in Munich who runs Barry Diller’s operations there (Home Shopping Network, etc.). He’s 46 and wants LASIK. We all then climb upstairs where they have a live Irish band playing with 3 saxophones and they were so terrific we didn’t leave until the place closed. I had my first real Irish Guinness (that’s plural) and we managed to get back to the room. This morning I look for the Kodak digital camera and it is GONE! Someone must have stolen it out of the bag we kept on the floor in the crowd with all the noise. After trying to except this loss and wondering where I can buy another one we try going back to the pub just in case. As I walk in the bar tender from last nightspots me and says “You’re the guy that lost his camera.” He had seen two people looking at it and felt they wouldn’t have owned a camera like that and just took it from them. His name is David Gordon and I call him the most honest guy in the world. What a pleasure to meet some one like him. When I told him what it cost, he said he had second thoughts (kidding).
We went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells and the Library and then went to the Guinness Brewery where it all started. As I am walking around videotaping in comes a gaggle of beauties to clog up my taping. They were the contestants for the Miss Ireland contest taking a tour. Miss Belfast was something. After walking to St. Patrick’s Cathedral we find we are there for evensong and it is a Protestant Church (Jonathan Swift is buried there). Never found the Catholic Cathedral, if there is one. We got back so I could run the Green again and then go to the Temple Bar area and ate at Gallagher's Boxty House. Boxtys are pancakes made of potato flour that are then filled with beef, lamb et al). That along with the corn chowder, Iris lamb stew, bread & butter pudding and Irish coffee made for a classical meal.
Looking at the map I find that Dimitrii's Company office is three blocks from the hotel and the ESCRS Headquarters is two blocks away. Will visit both in the morning and head West to Galway on the West Coast.
God Bless you, David.        I have had several surprises here in Ireland. The first was the return of my camera by David Gordon. The second is not finding tons of Catholic Cathedrals in Catholic Ireland (St. Patrick’s Cathedral (the largest) in Dublin is Protestant). The third was the 22 Irish pounds ($29) charge to send the last email because the AOL connection for Ireland is so slow (decided to wait to England before sending again). The fourth is what a great town Galway is and I had never heard of it before.
First we went to see Dimitrii’s address at #4 Lower Hatch St. and photographed it. Then visited the headquarters of ESCRS (European Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery and met the Exec Dir. She informed me that they asked me to Chair one of the sessions. We then headed directly west to the Atlantic coast of Ireland to the city of Galway and stayed at the Atlanta (of all things) Hotel. What a great town. It is filled with Italians and Spaniards here on vacation. Now I know where they all go in August. This brought a lively sense to the city with many good restaurants and great Irish band entertainment. After I ran to the jetty and through the town, we took the opportunity to sample both and had a great time.
I wanted to stay several more days because I really liked it here, but we had to go.
The next day we headed south and visited Dungaire Castle, the Aillwee Caves and saw the Burren, which is a large area of limestone outcroppings from the Ice Age. Farther south we saw the Cliffs of Moher, which cannot be described with words. We arrived very late into Limerick, ran in the streets, and then had dinner at The Texas Steak Out (steaks, refried beans and country music). Tasted better than it looked. A late night drive (by me) to north of Cork led us to our hotel in Blarney at 12:30 AM.
        This morning we got up and I ran through the small town 3-4 times and then we headed for the Blarney Castle and we each did what busloads of tourists were doing, kissed the Blarney Stone. Very interesting experience where you lie down on your back, grab some handle bars and project your head backwards until your waist bends back to allow your head to descend to the level of the stone, to kiss it. While in that position you are hanging several 100 feet over the edge of the castle wall being held by Mr. Paddy O’Brien, who you are very happy to tip for his services. A very unique experience.
We then visited the city of Cork and St. Finbar’s Cathedral (Anglican). I had earlier called Paddy Condon, probably the most famous ophthalmologist in Ireland, and he invited us to stay with him tonight. So we drove from Cork to Waterford (of crystal fame) but stopped to visit a beautiful seaside town called Youghal (“Yawl”).
        Paddy and his wife Ann took us to a great seafood restaurant in Dunmore East farther south on the coast. There are two lighthouses there, one at Hook and the other at Crook. The saying “by hook or by crook” arouse here. A couple of Gaelic (Irish) coffees and we finally make it to bed. Up early to run with Paddy on the beach and then we must (sadly) catch the catamaran at Rosslare (an hour away) and land back in Wales at Fishguard. We will try to make it to Cardiff, Wales by tomorrow night.
I like Ireland very much and will definitely return.
 

KJH                                                                                     Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #33 

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

KHofferMD@AOL.com            RETURN TO INDEX

Waterford, Ireland

Sent 8-19-99

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