Monday, 10 September 2012

Day 34 - Dublin

A rare second night, this time in Dublin, gave us the chance to discover more about Ireland's capital city.

Our tour director's home city bias shone through as she proudly pointed out landmarks in a morning tour, mostly from the bus, which culminated near Trinity College aka Dublin University. It has over sixty thousand students these days and has been servicing higher education in Dublin for more than 400 years after being established by the Virgin Queen. It has many reasons to be considered famous but chief among them is the revered "Book of Kells".

The beautifully illustrated manuscript was hand copied by monks more than 1200 years ago.The text is in Latin and the colour plates are still striking today and Trinity have an excellent display which includes large colour plates on the walls, back lit in the fashion of stained glass windows and with excellent explanations so that we visitors finally see the book, you know exactly what you are looking at. Almost as fascinating is the journey through the university original library, like a scene from Harry Potter, with its long central hall and reading tables and movable ladders which climb high to the heavens in order to reach books at every part of the enormous book stacks. Crusty but richly bound texts adorn the shelving and two rows of marble busts loom at the reading tables from either side of the hall in order to remind the undergraduates who would have sat here of their responsibility not so much to themselves but to the history of Trinity.

It was an awesome place.

"Sweet" Molly Malone
We had earlier taken in an abridged walking tour after leaving the bus, which included a pilgrimage to the statue of the infamous and much sung about statue of sweet Molly Malone. Bing Crosby, who often went to Ireland for holidays and a chance to improve his handicap, was one who sung tenderly of the woman but in truth, she was a lady of the night with a big generous heart matched only by her big generous breasts. The statue reflects both - or is that all three - and whilst the majority of it is the weathered bronze you expect of such public outdoor memorials, her breasts have a remarkable high sheen of polish as they continue to be appreciated by passers by to this day.

By the time we left, the earlier drizzle which had been bothersome over an outdoor lunch had take on a more serious inclination and Sue's gut reaction to bring rain gear in the morning was proven accurate. My dismissal of her planning was proven diametrically wrong! We purchased ponchos which at least kept our core dry and walked the promised 15 minutes back to the hotel in half an hour of steady rain. It stopped as we arrived on the hotel steps, half sodden.

Our evening treat was dinner and cabaret of Irish dancing, crooning and one of the funniest stand up comedians I've heard. Some of the jokes were familiar, most were brand new but his persona of the tragic clown, which dates back to Greek theatre, was better played than most. Among many favourites, the news of Murphy going to a restaurant and questioning why it would take five hours to cook an octopus, was Sue's favourite. Because, the waiter said, they cook them live and the buggers keep turning off the gas.

The frightening aspect of his work was his uncanny likeness to one Barry Everingham, a mate from Tamworth.

My poem "Stone Cottages", was liked so much by the tour director that she intends passing it on as a piece of writing to be considered by the Irish as they reflect on their current financial situation. Chief among the people she will be passing it on to is Michael Higgins, an Irish poet. That would be enough for me to be happy at its reception but Mr Higgins is also the President of Ireland!

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