BY DARYL BJORAAS
They tell me the weather is always in a constant state of change here in Dublin. Unfortunately, I had to experience this the hard way.
Earlier today I found myself walking out of the Ballsbridge Inn, headed to an on-camera interview with Major General Vincent Savino at the National Museum of Ireland. General Savino was speaking at the museum as part of the new Soldiers & Chiefs exhibit. He was the only Irish historian in what seemed to be all of Dublin willing to conduct an interview in person rather than by phone or e-mail. I wanted my news package to be as visually appealing and credible as possible, so you can imagine the frustration, panic and rush I felt this afternoon.
As I headed toward the bus stop, the frigid wind and rain struck my face in such a manner that I began to question why I got into journalism in the first place. It was colder than a well digger’s arse, as an Irishman once told me.
Yes, I played around with the idea of going back to the hotel and sleeping in, but I realized this probably was not the best nor the most practical option. In my hurry to make it to the museum on time, I forgot to grab a jacket. I had to continue convincing myself that I had come too far to go back and retrieve it. I would simply have to make due with the shorts and polo shirt I was wearing.
When I stepped onto the bus, I asked the driver for directions to the National Museum of Ireland. He made the all-too-typical “What!?” face. I knew then that my already aggravating adventure would continue to deteriorate.
I was right, as I often am about these things, yet I continue to have faith in humanity—and I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because I’m still young.
I continued riding the bus until the driver notified me to get off. I wound up on the front steps of the National Gallery of Ireland instead of the National Museum of Ireland. My video camera was ready to go, as was my sanity and hopes of making this a good news package. I should have taken a cab.
After trying to navigate through Dublin with the help of numerous hotel and convenience store clerks, I realized that the weather (as well as the time) was not my friend. I finally caved. I spent 10 euros and some odd pence (I’m cheap), and wound up at the National Museum of Ireland 15 minutes later. I as well as my wallet were feeling relieved.
Inside the museum I encountered some trouble with the reception desk guard. Apparently, I should have printed the email telling me to be there at noon, despite receiving the go-ahead from the public relation’s person days ago. I assumed she would have taken care of something like this, but again, I expect too much from humanity. After arguing respectfully and suggesting that he get in touch with the public relation’s person who gave me the permission, I finally swallowed my pride and admitted fault. He must have been waiting for this, because it was at this moment that I broke past the cultural barrier and into Mr. O’Shenanigan’s heart. I guess there is a certain level of prestige associated with being a National Museum reception desk guard. Live and learn.
At the museum I learned that I’d sent my alarm clock wrong the night before. I was actually half an hour early. Maybe someone is looking out for me after all, or maybe it’s just the luck of the Irish. I listened to General Savino’s talk, which I thought was very compelling. Afterward, he confirmed that he was willing to speak on-camera; he just had to get his cup of tea first.
I went with him and his war buddy to the cafeteria nearby. They both entertained me with war stories and their thoughts about the way children have changed. Three of General Savino’s grandchildren live in America, and he described how difficult it was communicating with them when he visited them in Denver last Christmas. The men reminded me of my own grandfather, and I couldn’t have been more fascinated. This is what I came to Ireland for—real-life lessons from those who have lived them.
After two cups of tea, several pastries and about one revolution around the clock, General Savino and I broke away from the noisy cafe to conduct the interview. He answered all my questions, despite the camera losing its battery power midway through. Educating me fully on why the Fighting Irish are called so, General Savino had been the most helpful resource I have spoken with thus far for this story. He was truly a blessing and one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed working on this topic so much.
After the interview, General Savino and I spoke for another revolution of the clock despite the two other interviews I had scheduled, but I didn’t mind. It was very interesting and the least level of respect I could pay to a man who had served his country proudly for 45 years. People like him are one of the few reasons I retain some level of trust in human beings. God bless him.
Leaving the museum, I felt a bit wiser but unfortunately not any warmer, so I hailed a cab and made my way to the Trinity Boys Boxing Club in upper Dublin. I made phone calls and lucked out. Neither of my interviews minded my being late and had no problem rescheduling.
The 20-euro cab ride might have depleted my wallet, but not my complaints nor my ambition (nor will it). I arrived at the boxing club on Hole in the Wall Road between 3 and 4 o’clock. Unlike the street name, the club was actually nice.
Jason Bonney, the club’s president, was as top of the line and dedicated to his mission as I was, and his club clearly showcased that. We talked about the club and his mission. In return I found out what boxing meant in Ireland and the prominence it has today. He was a very nice fellow who contributed to the few positives that today possessed.
I was tired, cold and hungry when I headed way back to the hotel, stopping briefly to eat my only meal of the day—at Supermac’s. It was flavorless chicken and it sucked, much like the Kazakhstan vs. England soccer match playing on the television, but I insisted on watching in hopes of experiencing European culture.
My cell phone had died at the boxing club, so I wouldn’t be able to call the other interviewee until I returned to the hotel. Unfortunately, in order to do this, I had to brave the brash Irish summer once more. The rain seemed to be pouring even harder now as I stepped off the bus. The wind left my limbs numb. I ran as fast as I could, knowing that despite the challenges I faced today, I had overcome them.
I made my last phone call just a few hours ago and have been editing my package as the night goes on. As I look out my hotel window and watch snowflakes fall, I think of the most important lesson I learned today. Next time, bring a jacket.