The voyage took 6 to 8 weeks. The "steerage" passengers, like us, were given a 7 x 7 ft. surface in which to spend the next 6 weeks. The whole family and their belongings had to fit there. If the family was just a couple with no kids, they had to share the surface with another couple, even if they didn't know each other. There were no bathroom facilities, no running water, no fresh air to speak of, since steerage passengers were only allowed on deck after the paying patrons were in bed so as to not "contaminate" them.
The hygienic conditions were deplorable, and many passengers died during the voyage. The boats were called "the coffin ships". There were many children as well, and you can have an idea of how desperate the emigrants were to leave under such horrible state. There were rules applying to passengers and crew, and the captains were either miserable or benign.
We were treated to a re-enactment of the situation as performers pretended to be passengers on the ship. One was a very poor woman with 4 or 5 small children. She told us her story. Her husband had died on the trip, and she would died as well later on. We were told the children made it to the end of the trip, and were taken in by different families. On the photos it is possible to see their living quarters, as well as "the bucket" on deck that served as a WC. They also were allowed on deck for a little while to cook whatever they had.
By contrast, the paying passengers had better living quarters and comfortable bunks. But it was still rough going. The other re-enactor posed as a wealthy lady, with her nose "up in the air" about "those filthy, uncouth passengers below". She was well fed, had a small cabin, and could get fresh air when she felt like it. Everything was very unfair. "The Famine" is now known as "The Holocaust", since other European countries also had a potato blight, but were able to survive eating cattle and other crops, which were denied to the Irish by the British.
After such a sad experience, we were ready to "drink and forget", so the visit to the Guinness Brewery was the perfect antidote. Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725-1803) at St. James Gate, Dublin. It is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide.
A distinctive feature is the burnt flavor which is derived from the use of roasted barley. The thick, creamy head is the result of the beer being mixed with nitrogen when being poured. It is the best selling alcoholic drink of all times in Ireland, where Guinness makes almost 2 billion Euros annually. Of course they had a gift shop, where we left a few Euros.
On top of the brewery they have a tasting room, where patrons are treated to a pint of Guinness. It is a very large, circular room, with windows affording commanding views of the city. Snippets of Irish literature are engraved on the glass. Paddy posed with Mike, a fellow traveler, and by herself, and finally outside the brewery, by a sign that informs you where you are, in case you drank too much and can't remember.
After the brewery visit we had sometime to walk around Dublin. We saw a pretty modern corner of the city, a "bank" that was so only in name, since it was a bar and restaurant, rows of typical Irish townhouses, a double-decker bus, and buildings covered with green ivy; we also spotted a green mailbox.
The townhouses are very pretty on the outside. Many of them are offices connected with the College. We didn't have a chance to explore their interiors. They all have colorful doors, and Pat & I decided that they reminded us of Georgetown. Along the water we found a group of very skinny figures commemorating "The famine".
A tranquil canal traverses the city; auctioneering houses and betting parlors dot the landscape. We finally arrived to the Burlington Hotel, where we stayed. The lobby was very inviting and a prelude to the night's sleep. It would be our last night in Ireland. Thus ends another wonderful adventure.