Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It’s been six years since we were first in Ireland and I had almost forgotten why we love this country and its people so much. In fact as we left for Dublin last Friday morning, both Sharon and I were concerned that maybe Dubliners would not be as warm and welcoming as people in Connemara, in the west, where we were last time. We need not have been concerned. Even with the metric system, its own language and a state religion, in many ways Ireland feels less foreign than England. Maybe it’s because there are so many freaking Americans (and everyone else) here.

It is impossible, for example, to get lost in Dublin. The moment a Dubliner sees you standing pondering at a bus stop or with a map in hand, he or she, regardless of age, will stop to offer help and always in the nicest way possible.

As soon as we decided to come, it was clear that our “must-do” was not the Guinness Storehouse, much as I used to love the stuff, but Yeats’ Abbey Theatre (founded along with Lady Gregory in 1904). And so off we went Friday evening after a brief stroll through the city, seeing most notably Trinity College and the main shopping area, Grafton Street, with its buskers, street performers and toney shops .

Well, the Abbey Theatre production was nothing traditional, but a debut of Marble by Marina Carr. It will stand as one of the most memorable, if most problematical, theatrical nights of my life (along with the recent RSC Taming). What danger lies in our dreams, especially if we try to follow them?

Saturday was to be our only full day in Dublin and we wanted to make the most of it. Things turned out a bit otherwise, as a fire alarm closed our major site to see, the infamous Kilmainham gaol, and protests disrupted the hop-on, hop-off bus routes. Still, we managed to get a real feel for the city.

Saturday night we took a chance and attended the “Irish House Party,” put on at a nearby hotel. We werereassured by the desk clerk at the Leeson Bridge House where we stayed that this was representative of the real thing and that no leprechauns would appear. He was right. It was a fine evening and I must admit regrets that I had left my camera at home. The experience was heightened by the fact that more than half the attendees were members of a Dublin bridal party. When it came time for the audience participation part of the evening two of the young women offered songs that were heartbreakingly beautiful and their song and dance and high spirits greatly enlivened the evening.

Our hotel in Dublin, The Leeson Bridge house was on a canal, just as our Bath flat is on the river. A coincidence? I think so.

Music everywhere. This group was very good, but thinking on it, we did not hear bad music in Ireland. Everything you may have heard about the musicality of the Irish has been understated.
Trinity College. Our visit here hardly did the place justice, as one of the oldest universities. We'll have to return I think

St. Stephen's Green Park, like so much of Dublin, has corners that commemorate the martyrs and and the uprising of 1916 that led to Irish Independence. The reminders struck me in the same vein as the plaques in Hamburg commemorating the Jewish families who died there.
We loved the whimsically painted doors, this one facing the Park
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. Yeah another church. I'm powerless
The floor is the thing here. Sharon just loved the Foxy Friar motif, so I got busy with the camera
Strongbow led the Anglo-Norman invasion of Dublin in 1170. This tomb is a 14th century replacement for the original. Still cool

This was our greatest disappointment. We had tickets for a 2:15 tour of the gaol, scene of the trials and martyrdom of many Irish heroes of the early 20th century struggle. But it was closed by a fire alarm. Guess we'll have to go back

No trip to Dublin could be complete for me wihout a bit of pen hunting. The folks at the Pen Corner were welcoming. It was a treat to be in a traditional pen shop, here since 1927.

Sunday morning, just before our reluctant departure, we took a stroll along the Grand Canal, which our hotel overlooked.

1 comment:

Gilly said...

So weird seeing all these white swans. Our swans are black, you know. Did your pen hunting result in any actual captures?