“On your right side,” the tour bus guide announced in a monotone voice, ” you see City Hall, the Gandon Customs House Building and there is the site where the City of Dublin was founded 1,200 years ago by the Vikings.”
Rather than fall asleep, a thought came to me, “How could the beginning of the capital of Ireland and one of Europe’s great cities be so boring when explained by a tour leader?”
” What was it really like here on this spot in the year 800 A.D.?” I was beginning to wake up. Vikings didn’t have an archivist with them at the time. Other items were on their minds. But what? Archaeologists dug up a bone or two, but there aren’t many Norsemen records.”
Allow me to speculate. If Rome was founded by the mythical Romulus, Remus brothers, then Dublin of my myth was settled by Ingmar, Olaf and Bjorn. The three of them had had a tough winter of 799 and 800. These Vikings had been cooped up in their stinking windowless sod huts for six dark months since November. They had drunk too much grog, put on a few pounds and had spats with the wives. Spring arrived and the three were conflicted about spending another summer on the fjord tending their flocks. Worse yet, Olaf was having a midlife crisis. He was 27 and didn’t have much time left. Life was slipping through his fingers. Sitting around the fire pit one evening Olaf blurted out his goofy plan:
“Why don’t we get a long boat, round up a bunch of oarsmen, go down to Scotland and spend the summer pillaging?”
“What are you nuts?” replied Ingmar, “You heard the guy two fjords to the west. They tried that last summer. All the towns and monasteries had already been picked over. ‘couldn’t find a single virgin. Nothing left worth pillaging.”
Just trying to be helpful, Bjorn suggested. Bjorn was the youngest of the three and still had assertiveness issues whenever the three got together. He was determined not to be cowed by the other two. He continued as boldly as he could:
“It is only a suggestion but has anyone tried plundering the island of Hibernia/Ireland?”
The other two usually didn’t like Bjorn’s suggestions but the grog had scrambled their thought process and they challenged to formulate an objection.
The three set about locating a longboat and rowers the next morning. The boat was no problem but it took them a month or more to agree on forty stout oarsmen. When spending months in a big canoe, belly to belly with forty stout rowers you can’t be too picky. It wasn’t till July that they finally launched. Then with constant rain, rough seas and no navigational GPS assistance it was nearly September before they reached the Emerald Isle. Then suddenly their luck turned for the better. By October the boat was stuffed to the gunwales with food supplies, silver altar pieces from the monasteries and a few cute nuns. Heading back, a storm forced them to take shelter up the Liffey River. By the time the sky cleared those oaf oarsmen were objecting to rowing crossing the North Sea in November gales.
“Why are we rushing home to spend another five months of Norwegian winter cooped up in a stuffy sod hut? This place ain’t bad. Food is plentiful, the weather is warmer and we like the redhead Celtic women.”
The three leaders once again sat around a fire pit to decide whether to stay or go. Ingmar and Bjorn couldn’t agree and left the decision to the older Olaf.
While he didn’t like to discuss his dirty laundry with friends, Olaf had a separate agenda. Before they left Scandinavia the Mrs. had been on him about his drinking.
“Your whole life is nothing but grog, beer and mead Olaf. If you think I’m spending one more winter is this smelly hut with a flatulent rowdy drunk, you got another think coming Buster!”
With that, she had washed her hands of him, in the biblical sense. And with that, Olaf made his decision. Dublin was founded on the Liffey River in 800 A.D. by a Norwegian alcoholic.
This history is uncorroborated by any reputable source. Nor has it been refuted. It simply attempts to flesh out and add interest to one bus tour guides abbreviated but insufferable account.