I think I am starting to really lose it....
2 days of inspecting the circuit and trying to make sure no shorts were occurring, I finally gave up and unsoldered the whole thing.
I then through together a quick 555 timer circuit using an ic socket, in order to test if I had destroyed my IC. That didn't work at first (but just in case, I tried a 555 I knew was good, and that did work). Just before throwing out the assumed defunct 555, I looked at it under a brighter light (and low and behold, on the IC was written in very small worn type: 741. It was an op-amp ! I could have screamed....*sigh*. Oh well, at least I got a tester out of the deal LOL