Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Dubliners

We were fortunate to have two visits to Dublin and enjoyed beautiful weather. Dublin being a city moves at a faster pace than the rest of Ireland, but it can still provide unique moments of colorful and kindly people to give it a special charm.

Views of Dublin - from heaven (Christ's Church) to hell (Kilmainham Gaol) and places in between.
Interestingly, Museums are free in Ireland, (as they should be everywhere) however you pay to see the churches. I guess the taxes keep the museums open and fees keep the churches maintained. After Italy and France it will be hard to be overwhelmed by another church, but sometimes the simple and cherished have as much energy as the grandiose.

We went to two plays in Dublin, one at the venerable Abbey Theatre, "The Aristocrats" and then a brilliantly acted  (Don Wycherley, Father Ted) one-actor play  "After Sarah Miles" by Michael Hilliard Mulcahy, which we enjoyed  at Smock Alley Theatre. This captivating story-telling of the life of a fisherman in small village (Dingle was the location for filming Ryan's Daughter) and his experience from the movie being filmed in Dingle and how it has a thread through his life. This play resonates Ireland and it's people, and later when visiting Dingle and the famous dolphin "Fungi" (a tourist Icon), we had the play's images brought to life.

Dubliners refers to the short stories of James Joyce. Joyce's tales of characters from Dublin in "Dubliners" as well as "Ulysses" "The Dead" and  15 others books etc. are cherished here.  Bloomsday, (June 16th, the day Ulysses takes place) is celebrated in week long events and Pub readings, with costumed characters and all things Joycean. It has gone global, but the spirit here is both reverential and commercial as many establishments try to cash in on the celebration. We went to a couple events and it was lively and fun. More fun than trying to get through the Odyssey of "Ulysses".


Our first trip to Ireland, and we had to catch up with our old friends from International Theater in Vienna. 32 years ago Rebecca had her eye on Patrick (top left) and they married and settled in Ireland and raised 2 wonderful sons.

  Rich and Pat are standing in front of  a huge white granite Bullau stone called the Motte Stone.  It stands alone on a high hill close to Pat's home in Avoca.  Lot's of folklore on this stone, from the legendary Irish giant Finn McCumhail who hurled the stone from a high mountain, to making wishes come true if you walk around the stone 3 times.  Some people have claimed to have seen light emanating from it.  
The stone is a mystery - unlike the 2 characters standing next to it.
 Go on to a site that talks about the mysteries of Ireland for more details.

A pint in the local neighborhood pub with two locals Pat and his son Dave

Anywhere you travel in the world - you can always count on finding an Irish Pub.  A famous James Joyce quote, "A good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub."   There are over 1,000 pubs in Dublin, and like the churches in Rome - there is one (or more) on every block.  We enjoyed many blocks!

This was a special pub we closed down one evening.  O'Shea's Merchant Pub was full of locals that welcomed us like we were long lost friends.

No self-respecting tourist leaves Dublin without going to the Guinness Storehouse and learning how to pour a proper Guinness.  Pictured at top are Richard and Renata taking their lesson seriously - you can see my pour in the foreground of their pictures, I failed miserably and did not get certified.  The middle picture shows me wallowing in my grief - at least I passed the tasting skills test.
How can you tell a tourist in Dublin?  They are wearing a Guinness Tshirt - me? I'd rather drink my Guinness.

Of course we can't leave Dublin without writing about what we ate.  Irish Soda Bread with Irish Butter was eaten every day.  It seems everyone makes the bread a bit different adding their own variations- it was all good.  The staples - Irish Stew (no one would admit it was better than their mothers), Fish and Chips, Seafood chowder with lots of Salmon was a favorite.  Top right is a crab pie with fries (I went back twice for that one) Middle left is a fancy mixed fish fry.  
"There is no love sincerer than the love of food"  George Bernard Shaw

We walked around the Motte Stone 3 times and our wish was granted - after a delightful time in Ireland we wished for a safe trip to Norway - stay tuned!