Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Walking Through the Heart of Dublin

Dublin statue of James Joyce.

"There are two important books in every Irish home," said my young guide, a student of history at Trinity College, Dublin.

"The Bible and James Joyce's Ulysses." He paused an Irish pause.

 "Alas. Both unread." 

Thus began my guided walk through the landmarks of Dublin with the kind and funny Ronan. We saw the bullet holes that still mark the General Post Office from the Easter Rising in 1916 ...

And, since the building is still a working post office, I was able to mail a letter to my Aunt Ruth. The stamp was the first and only thing I've bought here for under 1 Euro: it costs just 82 cents to send a letter across the Atlantic to America.

We then found the last Royal Mail Box remaining from English rule in the 19th century. "The Irish being the Irish," said Ronan ...

"We kept it and just painted it green. Is it a good disguise, do you think?"

My guide Ronan and the non-royal mailbox.

Moving on, I had to confess--when asked--I was not sure who Phil Lynott was, of the band Thin Lizzie. I did recognize the name of one of his hits, "The Boys Are Back in Town," (one of my nieces loves it for its association with the film "A Knight's Tale.") Anyway, the late Afro-Irish musician (drugs, unfortunately) not only has his own Dublin statue, he seems to be particularly well-remembered by the Japanese.

Musician Phil Lynott, and friends, in Dublin.

Down the road from Phil, The Occupy Wall Street people have produced a sister movement in Dublin: this group is occupying the plaza around the Irish Central Bank, a cold, damp spot for a vigil.

All was quiet at Occupy Dublin, surrounding Ireland's Central Bank.

Every now and then--it seemed like every block or two to me--we would pass a pub and Ronan would say: "Now there is a pub that was one of Brendan Behan's favorites."

McDaids Pub.

Behan, the author of Borstal Boy and A Quare Fellow among many other works is quoted as calling himself "a drinker with a writing problem." Oh wait, there's another of his haunts:

 The Foggy Dew pub.

But talent is often leavened with misery and we cannot take one without the other. Behan died as he lived--collapsing on a Dublin bar stool at the age of 41. Tortured, not by failure, but by his own success.

Ronan and I walked miles and miles through Dublin on this sunny, cold, sparkling day, speaking of Irish poets and patriots. James Joyce, Sean O'Casey, J.M Synge, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Charles Stewart Parnell, Eamon deValera, Michael Collins--not to mention the works of the Irish of the diaspora.

We could have gone on, but by 1:30 p.m. we had walked so far as we talked I was too exhausted to go another step. Ronan is a student at Trinity College and wants to be a journalist. He's such an engaging storyteller he should become a great one. What he could not tell me is how a people on an island this small could produce so much great talent?

I walked slowly back to my hotel as the light began to fade and pondered the wondrous mystery of the Irish.

Dublin's Bohemian Temple Bar neighborhood is now known for its nightlife. I stayed in a quieter quarter, lucky for me.
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Perry Klein said...

If you happen to run into any of the Tuatha de' Danann, give them my regards ;)

Robin Chapman said...

Ah, the Ancient Tribe of Dan. No contact so far, except from an Estonian of that tribe who tried to pick me up on the flight over. I'll keep my eyes peeled!

Florida Beach Basics said...

what a great adventure you're having! Happy Thanksgiving - marge

Robin Chapman said...

Hope it is sunny and bright in Florida for the holiday. God Bless Us Every One!