Monday, May 18, 2009

Last Day in Ireland

The Phoenix Column, Phoenix Park

The Wellington Testimonial...he was Irish

Phoenix Park scene

"April 3. Met Davin at the cigar shop opposite Findlater's church. He was in a black sweater and had a hurley stick. Ask me was it true I was going away and why. Told him the shortest way to Tara was via Holyhead."


Sandycove Martello Tower, James Joyce Museum..."Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed."

Second-floor interior

The gift shop; the cartoon above reads "The Buck stops here"

After County Meath, we drove on west of Dublin and found a campground in Clondalkin. Squalls continued through the night, but, as in previous nights, lifted enough for us to set up the tent.

Sunday was our last day in Ireland. We had a signature Irish breakfast at a nearby hotel. I particularly enjoyed the black and white puddings and sausages. After breakfast we drove into the city and explored a bit of Phoenix Park, another storied Irish place. It is Europe's largest city park, centuries old, many hundreds of acres, enough to support a long-standing deer population. In addition to all the monuments, gardens, zoo, equestrian center, etc., the Park also contains the US embassy and the residence of Ireland's head of state.

We next drove through the CBD out beyond the port to Sandycove, site of the Martello tower where Ulysses begins. (Twenty-some such towers were built around the bay in the early 1800's to defend Dublin from Napoleon). It is, since 1962, the James Joyce Museum. We toured it at leisure, savoring every letter, first edition, cigar case, guitar, vest, and all the rest. It is actually a very small place for a life so full of reflection and experience. But as with any author, I suppose, the main monuments and museums are the creative works.

We drove back to the CBD and, while Vicki read, I ventured through Temple Bar, Grafton Street, Nassau Street, and beyond, in search of a book. I found the bookstore, but not the book. Story of my life. The downtown was bustling despite the continuing downpour. We drove back to our campground and commenced packing for our next removal.

Despite roughing it in often rough conditions, we thoroughly loved Ireland. We earned our enjoyment of the place. I'll post some Irish out-takes sometime, some further observations on a wonderfully rich and interesting place.

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