When we last left our heroine she was finishing up a field trip day with students in Dublin. The afternoon called for some administrative work and then I was invited out to Howth to a restaurant called The House. We had to go in a taxi since Howth is outside Dublin, and the taxi ride took a while thanks to beach traffic. Howth is on the tip of a peninsula that forms the top of Dublin Bay; the scenery was beautiful so the drive was not so onerous (merely expensive!). On the way back the moon was rising over the bay and it was even prettier. But did I take any photos? No, dear reader, I did not. We had an excellent meal at The House. They are hyper-local and give source information for everything on their menus. There was delicious cheese, fish, and charcuterie; I had a very good mushroom risotto; and somehow we all squeezed in desserts as well. One member of our party was in raptures over the ice cream. Worth the side trip if you are in Dublin.
Thursday morning I did not have a field trip with students so I took myself on a field trip to the National Print Museum. Of course, I have been there before but it is always worth another visit. They currently have a special exhibition on the centenary of (the beginning of) women’s suffrage in Ireland–and the museum was pretty empty so I got some good pictures of their collection of printing presses and accoutrements.
From the museum and some lunch (can’t remember; might have been a triangular sandwich from EuroSpar) I had to go back to DCU and go through some email. Technology makes working remotely both incredibly easy and frustratingly difficult: 99% of the time I can dispatch routine requests with ease. The remaining 1% is spent trying to find a single document that as of this writing, continues to elude me for the 5th consecutive day. The document failing to surface, I returned to the city centre and met colleagues to make our way toward dinner. It was a gorgeous evening and I had a plate of veggie pasta in cream sauce at a “Viking pub” called The Long Stone. With the World Cup on the big screen and an overall merry atmosphere I can see why people like the place. Unfortunately we had a couple of administrative interruptions during dinner, but on a different night it would have been perfect.
And this is where I really and truly run out of pictures. Friday was the beginning of our free weekend and some solo flânerie for me. I left the “good camera” behind at DCU on purpose (traveling light) and headed to the National Gallery to visit my two favorite paintings in Dublin (Vermeer’s Woman Writing a Letter with her Maid and Charles Jervas’s portrait of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu). Let me just say again that I love going to museums that are free because you don’t feel any pressure to See Everything. You can beeline it to the things that interest you and just stop at anything else that catches your eye along the way, which is what I did.
On the way out of the museum I passed by Coffee Angel so I bought a flat white (paying rent to use their toilets, plus their coffee is really good) and carried it to Kilkenny Shops to see what they had by Orla Kiely. I’ve gotten so many compliments on the bag of hers that I bought here last year. “Thanks! Orla Kiely, Irish designer!” is what I always say. Did not buy anything but enjoyed seeing their “Celebrating Orla Kiely” promotion featuring oversized O. K. bags hanging from the ceiling. Finally I took to Grafton Street for some high-level retail therapy. Grafton is Dublin’s main shopping street (Henry Street is a close second) and is closed to car traffic, so on a good weather day it’s thronging with shoppers, buskers, and tourists in an overall convivial atmosphere. For maximum poshness, I recommend Brown Thomas, a department store that’s a smaller version of something like Galeries Lafayette. There’s also River Island (women’s clothing), Marks & Spencer (literally everything), plenty of shoe stores, cosmetics, clothing, a few jewelers, and of course Irish souvenirs. Without going into the gory details of my purchases I’ll just say I left poorer than I went in, but also better dressed and accessorized. Along the way I had an excellent lunch at Lemon & Duke, in a little pedestrian passage called Royal Hibernian Way just off Grafton. Shout out to all restaurants that give good tables and good service to solo diners and do not make us feel like outcasts.
I had to wrap up my day a little early as I’d left my backpack at DCU for the day and needed to retrieve it, then come back to the city centre to meet students who were going back on the Kavanagh bus with me. Hooray for the Leap Visitor Card and its 72 hours of unlimited rides. We added those to the program this year and they were extremely handy. With backpack retrieved and snacks purchased near the bus stop, I collected my 5 fellow travelers and we said goodbye to Dublin for this year.
It was interesting as always to see students’ reactions to Dublin. I’m a city mouse in some ways (more by inclination than experience); I love the energy of a city and the ability to be anonymous in a crowd. But for lots of people the exposure to a dense urban environment is offputting or even frightening. Modes of public transportation, especially buses, are foreign to the point of invisibility and/or aren’t considered “safe.” Hopefully this weekend gave everyone at least a bit of exposure to a different way of life. Dublin is definitely growing on me now that I’ve clocked a little more time there.