Dublin has a bustling neighborhood called Temple Bar. Similar to our Bourbon Street, it’s known for its vibrant music scene, delicious food, and lively pubs. People from all over the world fill the streets, and the air is a mixture of laughter, music, and the smell of Irish cuisine; and the smell of beer. In fact, the essence of beer wafts like a prohibition axe raid on a bootleg warehouse.

The area was originally named for Sir William Temple, provost of nearby Trinity College from 1609 – 1672, whose house and gardens were located here in the 17th century. Temple Street serves as the neighborhood’s primary artery and the iconic Temple Bar Pub is its centerpiece.

I spent a few days here in the early 1970s looking for a contact with the codename Dylan. We were supposed to meet in a small, old-fashioned pub tucked away down a narrow alleyway. The message read; look for a worn, wooden sign above the door that reads “The Old Dubliner.”

I parked myself at the bar and waited with a pint of Guinness. The small room was dark and looked a little off center, but I attributed that at some level to the beer. Old photographs of Dublin lined the walls and a roaring fire crackled in the hearth. A couple of friendly locals seesawed to my left while discussing today’s football match, and by friendly, I mean loud. A middle-aged couple sat dreamy-eyed at a table by the fire. A man stood alone in the opposite corner, nursing a whiskey like it was the last glass in all of Ireland.

True to Irish religion, Dylan didn’t show on the first night. I walked the evening streets, winding my way through cobblestones and concrete until well passed the witching hour. I was hoping Dylan might be able to pick out the only semi-sober American in Dublin, that is, if he himself was still standing and able to focus on faces.

The area was thick with bodies. Revelers poured out of one pub long enough to help each other into another next door. Others rambled, looking through windows to assess drinking establishments, but all were starting and stopping, then starting again like North Carolina drivers. I weaved through an obstacle course of oscillating motion until I passed a man leaning against a wall, trying to light a cigarette against a light breeze. After I passed by, I realized he looked familiar. It was the man from “The Old Dubliner” that had guarded his whiskey so carefully.

Time to retreat, I found my way along the river back toward my hotel. I stopped near a pedestrian crosswalk over the Liffey and leaned on the stonework barrier. The noise in the Temple Bar neighborhood had faded. A faint draft ran along the quiet river canyon below. The water glistened with the light of a half moon. A soft current carried the shiny fragments into the blackness under the bridge.

I glanced down the road leading back to Temple Street and noticed the glow of a cigarette swing in the shadow of a building, maybe 30 meters away. The red ray burned brightly and then shot out toward me. The cigarette exploded in a supernova as it bounced on the cobblestones. The figure turned and walked away. The dark form reminded me of the man I first saw in “The Old Dubliner” then again on the busy street. I saw him a few too many times.

The following morning, I checked the drop at Heuston train station at the far end of a Hitchcock-ian hallway. The small locker was only slightly larger than a standard parcel box at the post office. I opened the metal door and pulled an envelope taped to the top of the inside. The note read, “You were followed. Situation corrected. Meet me at Guinness tour 11:00 AM.”

I stood at the end of the queue waiting for the tour to begin. The guide collected us around to welcome the small group and provide some ground rules for the excursion. Basically, the only real rule was drink only one pint per station otherwise the tour may take all day.

A woman bumped into me from the side. I turned.

“Pardon me, sir,” she said, not that I cared one way or another. “Please allow me to pay for your tour. I insist, for the inconvenience.”

She handed me a folded five-pound note. Confused, I pushed it back at her. She folded my fingers around the money with her hand and pushed back. She nodded her head. Her eyes stretched slightly.

“Dylan?” I asked.

“One and the same,” she said. “Put this away before you’re too drunk to remember.”

I folded the note open and saw the information I had requested.

“Watch your back until you’re out of Dublin,” she advised. “Then you’re someone else’s problem.”