For my first full day in Dublin, my priority was sorting out money for the four-month stay. Based on a recommendation, I’d brought a cashier’s check that I’d use to open an account. I’d supplement the rest with ATM withdrawals and purchases from a debit card.
Before money, I decided to grab breakfast. It was unseasonably warm in Dublin and restaurants had kept outdoor dining open. I found a place with a full traditional breakfast that included Irish bacon, pork sausages, fried eggs, white pudding, black pudding, toast and fried tomato. After breakfast I found an Internet café (hey, it was 1999 – those were a thing back then!). I hadn’t fully figured out phones and very few people I knew were using email. At a loss for how to call home, I emailed an ex-girlfriend and asked her to call my mother. Someone had to let her know I’d arrived safely.
Dublin was surprising. Almost everyone was young, stylish, and attractive – not the tweedy old men I’d pictured. Cell phones had already taken hold and most young people had one in one hand, a cigarette in the other.
I made my way to a bank to open an account and cash the check.
“Oh, I apologize, you can’t open an account unless you have proof of residency. No, your college acceptance letter doesn’t count – I need a utility bill.” No problem… I still had my debit card from home and all would be right.
I’d left my debit card sitting on the counter of a camera store back in Maine on my way to Logan Airport. This meant a new card would need to be sent from my bank, which would take at least two weeks. I was left with only the pounds in my wallet, a useless cashier’s check, and the items in my backpack and camera bag. I’d spent money on the bus from the airport, that random call home to an automated number, a full breakfast, an internet café, and the hostel.
I had to prioritize my spending until I could get to the college. Logically I bought a pack of cigarettes (I didn’t smoke, but stress does funny things), a phone card to call home and, eventually, a ticket for the Guinness factory (there was no way I couldn’t). The rest of my time there would be spent cooking meals at the hostel, doing activities that wouldn’t cost money, and just generally trying to have fun while being resourceful (and stressed).
I got over my fear of phones and used the phone card to call home and explain the situation. On the second day my mother offered a solution – the family friend in Roscommon had son living in Dublin. Conor lent me enough money to make it through a little longer and I’d pay him back when I returned to the city.
If Conor hadn’t been there, I’m not sure what I would have done. The surge in funds meant I could make my way to Roscommon to stay with Conor’s mother for a dew days and continue exploring the country.
Song referenced: The Luck of the Irish