Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dublin, Part II

Jim Larkin Sunday was my first full day in Dublin and I spent a great deal of it on foot again and getting to know my way around. I was up early enough that O'Connell street was mostly devoid of people, which I'm sure is not its usual state. By the time I made my way back this side of the Liffey, though, things were waking up more.

Spiralling Snake I went by Dublin Castle, though I didn't go in for a tour (still too early). Nearby is a delightful little snake-themed garden. It's mostly a large circular lawn with narrow brick snakes forming paths that twist around in Celtic knot-work. There are other little sculptures and things around the edges as well, hidden behind the shrubberies.

Trinity College I took a tour of Trinity college and was amused by their two bells. One is an everyday bell, but the Great Bell is rung only for examinations and funerals. One hopes that isn't because the two events are related. Trinity is also the home of the Book of Kells, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures of it, or of the rest of the illuminated manuscript exhibit. (Though I did sneak one photo of the Ogham script display, so I could learn the code.) Even more disappointingly in the can't-photograph category was the Long Room. This is the library that houses the 200,000 oldest of the college's books. It's 65m long and has bookcases reaching all the way up to its towering ceiling. Enough to strike awe and reverence into the heart of any book lover. The tricky thing about this library comes when you want to find a particular book (not that we tourists were allowed near them, of course). For reasons, I presume, of space efficiency, all the books are organized by height. Tall books are on the tall shelves near the floor, and everything shrinks as you go up.

In the afternoon I went to the National Museum, which was mostly interesting for the ancient dead people they've dug out of bogs from a couple thousand years ago. I also went to the National Gallery (both of these are right near my hotel) but failed to be very impressed. Of course, I was also kind of tired by then, which probably affected it.

After dinner and a bit of a rest, I headed out with my mandolin to find my first pub session. The Cobblestone had been recommended to me as the best place to go, so I landed there around 9:30. The musicians there let me play with them but, while I don't think any of them were trying to be outright rude, I did feel distinctly ignored. The piper pretty much ran the session, started all the tunes, and nobody did anything without him. He would also spend several minutes in between each set just tuning and adjusting his pipes and reeds, during which time nobody seemed to want to speak to me. The most I got out of anybody was when the bodhran player suggested somewhere else I could go play, "where they're more open to newcomers." I think he was trying to be nice, but the implication was very much that I was in the wrong place. So I felt pretty bad about that. Especially since I felt I was doing the session justice, musically. The other musicians were all good, but not stellar, and I don't think I was dragging anything down. So anyway, not sure what I'm going to do next in the music department. I don't actually want to try the pub that was suggested to me, since someone at work said it was more of a tourist pit and not recommended. So we'll see what else I can find.

There's a TV in my room and the other night I found an Irish language channel, with English subtitles, so I watched that for a while. I know a few words in Irish, so it was fun to try to catch them going by, and also to try to pick up a few more. I saw one talk show discussing someone who had been a great linguist and proponent of the Irish language, which was rather interesting historically. After that was a sitcom about an undertaker. Apparently he wasn't prepared to handle both a cremation and a funeral on the same day. Ah, the hilarity.

Work has been good so far. I like the office and I like the people, though it's also weird being on an almost non-overlapping schedule with the people back in California.

Coming up, I'm planning on going swing dancing tomorrow night, and I'd like to hear Handel's Messiah in Christ Church Cathedral. Oh, and I probably won't actually be going to Galway during my time off after next week, as I had planned. Cryptosporidium in the water doesn't sound like much fun.

5 comments:

Adam Lasnik said...

Sorry to hear about the jerky musicians! That doesn't remind me of the typical Dublin friendliness I encountered. Buggers!

But glad you've gotten to walk around a bunch and... yeah... going to Galway would be, uh, crappy right now.

Say hi to any of the cool SQE'ers or AdWords'ers that happen to remember me (er, that's a toughie to know ahead of time, though), and enjoy the rest of your trip!

Lara said...

swing dancing in ireland. that's so cool! glad to hear you're enjoying yourself. :)

Ken said...

There used to be a guy who guided a short walking tour, starting in front of Trinity, for a few pounds. You may want to look into that if you have some free time.

Miriam said...

Behold, the New York Times has heard your lamenting, and it has answered it. Blessed is the name of the Times.

Graham said...

Ooh, excellent photo. Thank you!