Thursday, January 2, 2014

In Dublin Town, or, RoseE Sleeps a Lot

What's the first rule of international travel? The cardinal sin of spending your first day in a foreign land?

What did I do?

That's right. I made it to my lovely accommodation . . .
Cute little bedroom just over the front entryway. Perfect!

. . . was treated so some tea and toast to warm my bones after my rainy journey from the airport, unpacked my bag, had a shower, and . . . 

You guessed it. I went to sleep.

I would like to cite the following pieces of information in my defense:

1. I had just done four flights in two days, two of which were red-eyes, and had slept on a sofa the night before that. 

2. It was pouring rain, and wet and drippy and chilly.

3. I was on day 5 of the never-ending common cold, which I hadn't been able to rest through because I was too busy getting ready for this trip.

4. I didn't have the wifi password, so I couldn't look up how to get to the museums I wanted to see. 

So I slept. I slept through most of the morning and part of the afternoon. Then I got up, popped across the road for some sandwich fixings and a hairbrush (always forget one thing; thank goodness it was a replaceable thing), had dinner with the family next door, watched Coronation Street, and went back to bed. And woke up again at half past one, of course, watched a movie on my laptop, fell back asleep, woke up at half past noon. Jet lag's a bear.

But it was sunny outside, I was feeling less cough-y, my internet was working, and I finally felt in shape to go see Dublin. 

Here is Miss Molly Malone, whom I wandered past on my way to the National Gallery, ready to sell you some shellfish and get that song stuck in your head for the next hour. 

 My tour today included the National Library, National Gallery, National Museum of Natural History, part of the National Museum of Archeology (gotta go back tomorrow), a real Irish pub, and a Tesco's.

The National Gallery had a truly lovely medieval collection. I like medieval art, partially because I tend to understand what's going on in it. So here we have the Virgin and Child, attended by St. John the Baptist and St. Lucy (Hi, Lucy!). Apparently St. Lucy is offering the Christ Child her own eyeballs. Maybe her future eyeballs or something, because she seems to have eyes in her face, too. At first I thought maybe she was Judith offering the head of Holofernes, and Holofernes had a head kind of like a frog, with the eyes all sticking up, but no. I'm assuming the eyeballs have something to do with the gruesome way in which she was martyred, which I'm not going to bother to look up because I already feel bad about giving my-niece-Lucy Dracula for Christmas. I feel I should limit her exposure to famous Lucys in history and literature who died in gruesome ways. 

 Here's the ascended Virgin healing Pope Leo I. This painting harked to a story I'd never head, and that fascinated me. Apparently Pope Leo had committed a sin, and he felt so guilty about it that in penance he cut off his own hand. The Virgin, hearing of this, healed his hand for him without permission.

The image really struck me. Here's Leo, trying to suffer for his own sins--trying to make himself acceptable in the eyes of God. And Mary's all "Nope. You don't get to do that to yourself on my watch." It was a very powerful image to me of the idea of grace. God will heal us whether we think we deserve to be healed or not. Deserving grace isn't our purvey or our business; it relies on God's merits, not ours. It's not just that we don't need to punish ourselves for being imperfect; it's that we are cruel to our Heavenly Father, and contemptuous of his Son's sacrifice, when we try to damage what He has died to save.

One other highlight of the day was wandering into Merrion Square, where I was greeted by this cheeky fellow:

 Couldn't put him on a column in the middle of a roundabout. Oh, no. Not Oscar Wilde. Not the greatest social satirist of this or any other age. He'd come back from the dead to vandalize such a memorial. Nope, he sprawls cheerfully in the corner of the park, in his smoking jacket, wearing a wicked grin that seems to say "Up yours, society! Love ya. Mwah."

Around the corner is another bit of social-commentary statuary, which I found really fascinating. This is the memorial to Ireland's military killed in action:
You can't see too well, but inside the pyramid are statues of four soldiers, standing around a flame. Which I thought was lovely. Because if we're going to have an eternal flame in our soldiers' honor, it should at least be keeping them warm, poor souls. And I love how encapsulated this memorial is. It simultaneously honors the war-dead and hopes that the idea of war in general can be someday entombed and forgotten.

Other un-photographed highlights included a coffee shop called Insomnia (sandwich and hot drink for five euros; the hot chocolate is fair trade and tastes like drinking a melted Cadbury bar) and a display on the strikes/lockouts of 1913 that led to Bloody Sunday. (Lesson: the British should not be allowed to run any other country until they've proved they can run their own in a sensible manner.) I also stopped in at a pub to listen to the music, which was lovely, but the place was crowded and I wasn't sure how to obtain a drink (or what to obtain) so I just stood around, looking rather idiotic but liking the music too much to leave before it was over.

I'll close with a parting word from my buddy Oscar Wilde, framed by a selfie in black marble.


  1. I adore Dublin. And now I have more things to do the next time I go. Melted Cadbury's? Yes plz.

  2. You can be my tour guide anytime! Thank you for sharing your marvelous day around Dublin!

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  4. RoseE. Thank you for sharing the day with me. Not having traveled to any part of Europe and am grateful for the glimpse. I love the Oscar Wilde statue and quote. "Who, being loved, is poor?" You are a marvelous story teller.