Gaynelle and I started our tour of Dublin by wandering through the Temple Bar area, then heading straight for the closest graveyard. Yes, that may have been my idea. Mt. Jerome was a beautiful cemetery to wander about, and we ran into some odd folks walking their dogs and resting on the headstones.
After a quick dinner at Cornucopia, we hit the town to find some craic. What we found was John Denver. A lot of Denver. Why does every Irish crooner want to sing Country Roads? And why hasn’t someone written a song about Irish roads? It would probably be more terrifying than nostalgic, with a minor chords and canon fire, but I’d listen to that. Anyway, we had a blast, sipping Guinness and Bailey’s in dark, old pubs.
The next day we did Dublin up right. Breakfast at Bewley’s, Grafton Street, Kilmanhaim Gaol, stew at the oldest pub in Ireland, theater, and mummies.
Yes, mummies. St. Michan’s church is a bit off the beaten path, and because of that, we were the only tourists on the crypt tour. This is not a crypt in the track-lighting, paved-path, big-cathedral sense of the word. This is a dark, cramped, dirt-floor basement under a church. That happens to be full of mummies. At some point, a few of the coffins collapsed, revealing the fact that the dry, limestoney air down there was preserving rather than decaying. There are now four mummies that you can see truly up close and personal, including one they call the Crusader, due to his assumed age.
Another room held the Sheares brothers, which kicked off our rebel history tour. From there, we went on to Kilmanhaim Gaol, and later, Glasnevin Cemetery and the General Post Office (with the bullet holes still in the columns out front from the Easter Rising). For a country with such a wealth of history, it’s interesting how some of it lies fallow and forgotten (passage tombs untouched, grand towers abandoned and forgotten) and some it is as sharp and immediate as yesterday’s lunch. For obvious reasons, but still. Small, personal stories from the times of Pancho Villa and Woodrow Wilson are as well known in Ireland as Angelina Jolie’s babies names are in the US
We managed to swing another day in Dublin at the end of our trip, to decompress and poke around a bit more. That first night back we found Devitt’s pub on Camden Street, and an amazing upstairs music seisiun. See the huge delighted grin on G’s face?
The next day, another cathedral, another graveyard, another pub. Except the cathedral was Christchurch where I took a belfry tour, just me and Leslie, the ringing master, and my off-rhythm peals going out over Dublin. And the graveyard was Glasnevin, chock full of history and rebels, labour leaders and fat cats. And the pub was known as Gravedigger’s, a pub as old as the cemetery it butts up against. There’s a divot in the wall where gravediggers used to bang their shovels against the wall to request another round.
So that was Dublin. C asked me how I liked it, and I mentioned that I would probably not be coming back as a tourist. I would, however, love to live there. What an awesome city!
Next: On the road. Close shaves and madcap adventures, and the pictures are better. Plus there’s loads more sheep. Stay tuned.