When she walked to the Emerald Victorian this morning, Laetitia had already decided to go next to the Giants Causeway, but as the last drops of coffee fell into the carafe, she decided to make a detour elsewhere in County Antrim to Ballywillin Church. The Normans built the church, now a ruin, in the twelfth century. It was originally Catholic and then, after the Reformation, Church of Ireland. Services were held there until around 1840 when a new church was built in nearby Portrush. Among the weathered, lichen and moss encrusted tombstones in the graveyard was the headstone of Dorothea Ross. The Stuart Coat of Arms and Fleur de Lys were faint but still visible.
The Giants Causeway is a stunning array of columnar basalt, a remnant of the region’s volcanic past. The orderliness of its columns once confused the captain of a ship from the Spanish Armada, who shelled it thinking it was Dunluce Castle. Legend has it the Causeway was forged by Finn McCool, the giant Ulster warrior of Irish folklore. Laetitia’s great grandmother had been there in her youth and among the family treasures was a stereoscope that showed a faded image of the Causeway in three dimensions. The Causeway is a designated UNESCO Heritage Site and very popular with tourists from around the world. As Laetitia’s group was crossing the crowded parking lot, they saw a group of German-speaking tourists disembark from a van marked Dieter’s Tours. When Laetitia’s group noticed the van, they began to whisper among themselves and snicker. Laetitia soon understood why. Dieter is pronounced in Deutsch as though it was “deeter” and is a very common German name, but her group was mostly American, and, to them, the name reads “di-et-er” or “one who diets.” Some comments from Laetitia’s group were, “why would anyone want to go on a tour with rationed food?” and “those folks certainly didn’t look like dieters.” This episode spawned the limerick of the day.
To a German, no trip could be sweeter
Than one run by that tour group called Dieter
But, it’s a disquieter
To Yanks who read “di-et-er”
And think it’s not for a big eater.