Friday, December 23rd–Dublin

Dorothy Dunnett; windy Winter weather; Abbey Presbyterian church; Dublin City/Hugh Lane gallery; back to my room for a bit of a nap and missing lunch; over to the Brazen Head by cab for the dinner & evening of storytelling and music; back to the hotel by cab

Jurys Inn Parnell Street



I forgot to mention one of the funniest aspects of the show last night. Instead of Cinderella living with a wicked stepmother and her two ugly daughters, she lived their dad who was called Lord Donald Trumpet.

Although I've been back in my room since about 10 PM, it's now almost midnight before I got around to typing my notes for today. It's not going to take me all that long. I had a very nice if wet & windy morning, a very quiet afternoon, and an excellent evening with good food and a great storyteller and musicians.

I slept fairly well last night. When my body decided this morning I apparently already had enough sleep and wasn't going to fall back asleep again and I checked the time it was already 7 AM. I read for a bit, finishing the book I had been working on ("Game of kings", by Dorothy Dunnett before showering, getting dressed and heading downstairs for breakfast (porridge, fried eggs, and black & white pudding, both of which are very good here in the hotel).

Dorothy Dunnett is a Scottish author I've known about and have had on my "read sometime" list for quite a while. I think I've read at least the first of her mystery series but had forgotten about her historical fiction series until when I was in Edinburgh this summer I bought a CD from the Edinburgh Renaissance Band of music set in the time periods she wrote about at their concert I went to.

I had a technical question about the bodhran instruction DVDs I know Waltons Music sells–I know that many American DVD players cannot play DVDs made elsewhere unless they're also coded to make them playable there, so I thought I'd better call Waltons and ask. The person I talked to eventually found someone who had that information and both of them are playable on US machines. Before I headed on over to Waltons I had another idea. For a very long time, several decades, I've known about this company called Lark in the Morning, based in Mendocino, CA, which probably has and sells the largest collection of folk instruments from around the world and instructional materials. I went online, checked their catalog, and Lark sells exactly the same two bodhran instruction DVDs. I decided that instead of buying them here and carrying them around until I get back home I'll just order them online from Lark right before I leave London and have them shipped to me at home. (A much later note--I did order the DVDs & some bodhran sticks after I got home.)

I decided I didn't need to go over to the Claddagh Records next to the Waltons Music since I'm sure I can probably find some Irish music Christmas CDs in one of the stores in the area. I thought instead I'd just go up to the Dublin city/Hugh Lane art gallery, find somewhere in the immediate area to have lunch, and then maybe go to the Capuchin friary, St Michan's church with its mummies and possibly go across the Liffey to St Audoen's church before going to the Brazen Head about 6 PM for the evening of food, storytelling, and music.

Since my room is facing the central courtyard I sometimes can't tell from here if it's raining or windy or not unless the rain is hitting my windows hard or the wind is rattling them. I can however find out online what the current and expected temperatures are. When I went outside downstairs this morning I was adequately dressed for the temperature but decided I'd better come back upstairs and switch out my lighter vest which I was wearing over one of my sweatshirts for my rain jacket so I came back up and did so.

Back to the orientation of my room here for a second–I left on my trip this summer on June 14 which meant that I was traveling and staying in different places on the longest days of the year. It only took me the first couple of places I stayed to realize I'd better figure out in which direction the windows in my room faced and if they faced East close the curtains at night so I wouldn't be woken up at 4:30 AM or whenever the sun rose high enough to shine in. Although my room here faces East, the sun isn't rising until about 8:30 AM and it's good bit later before it rises high enough over the horizon and the wing of the building on the other side of the courtyard to shine in my window.

When I stepped outside for the second time and left the shelter of the hotel's doorway I found out it was also very windy, almost as windy as it had been that weekend I spent up in Mallaig on the Scottish coast this summer. It was so windy that I often had to grab for my hat and pull it down more securely to keep it on my head.

I had forgotten on which corner the Hugh Lane gallery is and went up the far side of the block which was OK, especially since Abbey Presbyterian church which is up on that corner was open. I couldn't remember whether I'd ever gone in when I was here in July and after having been in it this morning I know I wasn't. It is a very lovely older church, plainer than many Anglican, Church of Ireland or Roman Catholic churches as most Methodist or Presbyterian churches are, but a very lovely place to be.

I got to the Hugh Lane gallery about 11 and learned that they were closing early at 1 PM today (closed all day tomorrow and of course Christmas). I like the Hugh Lane although it's even smaller than many of the former private galleries turned museums I've been to in London or Paris. They don't seem to have a lot of famous or well known pictures, and have a bunch of stuff I'm only mildly excited about if at all but they do have quite a few items I rather liked and that doesn't include several very lovely fireplaces. I didn't take a lot of pictures this trip because I know that many of the ones I took back in July came out very well. The very pleasant courtyard in the center of the building was still very pretty even in today's weather. Because of the early closing today their what looks like a very nice café was closed.

It was still quite windy and rainy when I left the gallery and my stomach had started bothering me a bit so I decided I wasn't in a hurry to have lunch yet so I came back here to my room. I thought maybe I'd go back out about 2 PM to go around the corner and down the street to a sushi place where I had their very good bento lunch box on my last visit here this summer and stop in at the large Irish souvenir store across the street from there to look for Irish Christmas music CDs before continuing on with the rest of my afternoon plans.

I seem to have fallen asleep for a bit while stretched out and decided I'd just take the afternoon off. About 3 PM I had one of my Slimfasts with a small packet of fruit and lemon shortcake cookies they keep leaving here in my room for me.

It's only a 20 or 30 minute walk over to the Brazen Head across the Liffey but since it was now dark I took a cab over about 5:30 PM and back. I really like the BH and if I lived or was staying in the area it would be somewhere I'd go often. It's a rather rambling warren of a place like many older pubs I was in over the summer, with four floors, with offices etc on the top floor and rooms for events and private parties on the second (here) or 3rd (US) floor. I followed the stairs all the way up to where the event was being held but there wasn't anyone there yet so I went back down to the ground floor and settled in at this very nice small room decorated as a library. When the lovely young server asked me if I wanted something to drink and I told her I was there for the event upstairs and asked for some tea she told me it would be free since it was included as part of the evening's fare. There was also a small family in the same room who were also waiting until we could go upstairs and the server told us as soon as they were open. I of course left her a nice tip.

There were only about 20 of us, at three tables. I was seated on my own at the end of a longer table that eventually had a family and a couple of people at the other end but that was OK with me. Michael, our storyteller, introduced himself and the evening's program. He'd talk for a bit about Irish foods throughout history, our starters would be served, he'd then talk for a bit about Irish history, some musicians would play while we had our main course, then Michael would talk about Irish folklore before our desserts were served, then finally he'd talk a bit about Ireland's oral then literary traditions.

Michael was excellent, very genial, informed, and entertaining and the materials he selected and stories he told were very enjoyable and interesting. The service was very good and very well done. My meal was excellent. I started with the fish cake, which was much better than many crab cakes I've had back home in the States, followed by a lovely Guinness and beef stew, and a very moist chocolate cake for dessert. I got a chance to chat with Michael for a bit towards the end of the evening and told him that over the years I've heard several wonderful songs about Irish immigrants to the US during the Great Famine enlisting during the Civil War because at least it was a job. Michael pointed out that there were Irish fighting on both sides at the battle of Gettysburg as at most Civil War battles.

I got back here to my room about 10 PM and read for a while and had my computer download the latest episodes of the podcasts I listen to before typing up today's notes.

At the moment the forecast for tomorrow is for a high about 50 F, with a possible chance of rain again in the afternoon. So far I think what I'll do tomorrow, when I have no plans during the day or evening, is what I had planned for this afternoon–have the bento lunch at the sushi place, look for Irish Christmas music CDs at the souvenir store, drop any I buy off here in my room, then go to the Capuchin friary, St Michan's, cross the Liffey to St Audoen's and either take a cab or walk back here depending on the weather.

I know most places will be closed Sunday, Christmas Day. I suspect/hope at least one of the hop on, hop off bus tours will operate even on Christmas so if I'm right and the weather's as decent as is currently forecast I'll catch one of those. If not, I'm sure at least one of the movie theaters in the area will be open so maybe I'll go to a movie if I can find something interesting I haven't already seen.

It's now about 1 AM so that'll be it until tomorrow.

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