Walking to work one morning, we stopped for a coffee at Foodgame and a cookie from Il Valentino. We paused for a moment along the Grand Canal Dock. Before we knew it, three ducks were wandering our way in search of wayward crumbs from our madeleine.
When they realized we were going to be selfish and eat the whole thing ourselves, they wandered back toward the water.
In the meantime, we walked on and passed this statue of Admiral William Brown outside a nearby apartment building. Admiral Brown apparently founded the Argentine Navy. I'm not sure what a Dubliner was doing in that part of the world or why he was creating a military power -- it was an interesting factoid nonetheless.
Walking back toward work, we passed our duck friends who had now taken to the water. What a life!
San Francisco had a lot of film festivals but there is one thing it didn't have -- a Polish Film Festival. With that in mind, we decided to see a show as part of Kinopolis, the 5th annual Polish Film Festival in Dublin.
We saw The Reversewhich took place in post-World War II Warsaw. Three generations of women lived in one household and were trying to marry off the youngest among them. A promising prospect soon emerged but turned out to be too good to be true. The relationship results in an unplanned pregnancy and murder before the story culminates in present day Warsaw where we see the consequences of the past. I really liked the film which gave a glimpse into life in communist Poland in the 1950s.
We finally managed to wait out the tourist season and decided to go visit the Book of Kells on a cold afternoon in October. Unfortunately, they don't allow pictures inside, so I had to satisfy myself with a view of the building reflected in this broken globe sculpture.
One of the most amazing things about the Book of Kells beyond the age of the volume was the intricate illustrations that accompanied the text. The exhibit also gave a glimpse into life in Ireland and Scotland at the time the book was created as well as the life of a modern Trinity College student. The tour ends in the Long Room of the Old Library -- a dark wood paneled area lined with busts of famous writers and old musty tomes from floor to ceiling. What a great atmosphere to study in.
I've found Dublin to have pros and cons when it comes to walking. On the one hand, the city is compact and easy to get around on foot. On the other hand, you often encounter intersections like this one. Yikes!
A new coffee shop and gourmet grocery called Foodgame recently opened up near Ringsend in Dublin. I've been in a few times now (in fact, I'm currently the mayor on Foursquare) and the owner is so friendly and enthusiastic about his business that I'm really rooting for him to succeed. So far, I think he's developed a winning combination -- an excellent latte that doesn't cost a fortune.
The coffee is 2 euro by default and they often run a promotion where the coffee is free (limit 1) if you order in Spanish or Gaelic. I love this creative approach. We had fun trying to muster up enough español to place our order. We did our best and our broken Spanish got us a Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal. I like that the owner is a good sport. Definitely stop by if you live or work in this area.
Our goal is to learn as much as we can about Irish history and culture while we're living in Dublin. With this in mind, we decided to take the 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour. Our guide, Lorcan, armed us with a sheet of mug shots showcasing the different personalities that played a role in the story.
Lorcan regaled us with the exciting and volatile history associated with the period.
Stops included the Bank of Ireland (former Irish Parliament) near Trinity College.
We then crossed the River Liffey. From this vantage point we could see Liberty Hall which is now the tallest building in Ireland. It has 16 stories -- one for each of the leaders that was executed by the British after the 1916 Rebellion. I thought it was curious that there was a sign on the building reading: "Vote Ireland's Greatest - James Connolly"
We continued up O'Connell Street to the statue of Jim Larkin who founded the Irish Labour Party with James Connolly.
We reflected on the siege that took place outside the General Post Office -- the Irish Freedom Fighters holed up here for 6 days fighting off the British.
We ended the tour at Dublin Castle (maligned by the Irish as an icon of British rule over Ireland). Lorcan pointed out the statue of justice with lopsided scales over the gates of the Castle.
While the 1916 Rebellion was ultimately put down by the British, it paved the way for Irish Independence a few years later. I highly recommend this fascinating and information-packed tour of Dublin.
They offer some excellent and diverse craft brews. I like this huge fermentation tank in the bar that doubles as a table.
We had fun chatting it up with our fellow Americans living in Dublin. However, we soon learned the perils of going out on a Friday night in Temple Bar. A Swedish stag party commandeered an area near our table and proceeded to chant loudly while chugging down beer -- it was a novelty the first time but then became progressively more annoying. If loud binge drinkers aren't your thing (they aren't mine), definitely avoid this part of town on the weekends.
A rainy Saturday is a good time for indoor activities. We decided to visit the Dublin Writers Museum for a good dose of literature and culture. En route, we passed this interesting black crow crest above a Georgian Door on the north side of Dublin (along O'Connell Street).
We walked through the Garden of Remembrance which is across the street from the Writers Museum. The Garden commemorates those that died in the cause of Irish freedom.
A plaque stands at the far end of the park near the statue above.
We Saw A Vision
In the darkness of despair we saw a vision - we lit the light of hope - and it was not extinguished - in the desert of discouragement we saw a vision - we planted the tree of valour - and it blossomed.
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision - we melted the snow of lethargy - and the river of resurrection flowed from it -
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river - the vision became a reality - winter became summer - bondage became freedom - and this we left to you as your inheritance -
O generations of freedom remember us, the generations of the vision -
Milk and Honey offered a great atmosphere and delectable sweet treats.
We walked off our afternoon snack by heading home via Merrion Square Park. We admired the jaunty Oscar Wilde statue in the park and noted some of his famous quotes. I chuckled when I saw at the Writers Museum that Oscar Wilde supposedly once proclaimed to US Customs: "I have nothing to declare but my genius". Brilliant!