Well my gosh, Laura came to visit Ireland in August and here I am only getting around to writing about it in December!
The joys of being busy!
So, a brief synopsis of her flying visit to this fair City of ours…
Laura landed in Dublin late Thursday evening, most of the restaurants were closing their doors so she was dined in style with Pembroke Townhouse homemade cookies, not exactly the feast of Kings & Queens but tasty nonetheless. An early night was key to making the most of Lauras visit to Dublin so the evening drew to a close from the hotel lobby.
Friday dawned bright and cheerful but with the expected threat of drizzle. Our first stop was Kilmainham Gaol. A building steeped in history from the 20th century. Some of the most famous of politicians and soldiers were executed within its walls for their part in fighting for Irelands independence from Britain. Would highly recommend this museum to any visitors to Ireland. On route from the hotel, I did of course play Irish ballads telling the story of the those great Irish soldiers, such as James Connolly and Joseph Mary Plunkett. Musical treats included the song “James Connolly” and “Grace“, written as a love song on the eve of Josephs death and the day of his wedding to his betrothed Grace.
After that historical immersion we had built up a little bit of an appetite, so decided to check out a local haunt of mine called Anglers Rest on the Strawberry Beds of Dublin. A famous seafood restaurant but with fabulous choice on the menu. I advised Laura to try the garlic prawn & crab claws with home made brown bread. To die for is holding back a little! Laura loved the ambiance, if we had more time on the whistle stop tour we would surely have returned for the evening menu and some live Irish music, but it was not to be!
Heading back for the City, we took a panoramic trip through the Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European Capital City. We were lucky to happen upon a herd of deer relaxing in the pleasant surroundings they have as their home. Taking a moment to watch, we saw them at play fighting, a very special memory I do believe for Laura. This glimpse was of course engineered by my good self and nothing at all to with getting lost in the 707 hectares (1752 acres) of space that makes up the park.
Next stop was Guinness Storehouse, how could we leave it out! In 1759 the famous Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the disused brewery housed at St James Gate, Dublin. A man of great vision, Arthur knew he could create a tipple of great substance particularly with pure ingredients such as water from the Wicklow mountains. The exhibition itself runs over 7 floors with each level covering a different aspect of Guinness the drink, Guinness advertising over the years how it has evolved and the history of the Guinness family and their relationship with Dublin. We must have spent 4 hours wandering around culminating in Laura gaining a certificate as an expert pint puller and a spot of shopping in the Guinness shop. All good fun!
Feeling a little weary we retired to Pembroke Townhouse for an hour of down time then off we went to Milanos a popular pizza joint in Ireland. Whilst not a particularly Irish meal, Laura vowed she had never tasted anything so good, so again a success. From the City Centre, we paid a visit to my local bar in Chapelizod called ‘the Villager’. Laura experienced some true Irish hospitality with music, drink, chats and craic flowing. We didn’t stay too late, and managed to retired about 1am. At this point I was in absolute awe of Lauras energy levels. We agreed to meet early the next morning and walk in the City exploring some of the shops and taking in another little bit of culture.
Saturday morning dawned a beautiful crisp morning, we set off down Baggot St to enjoy the Georgian architecture on route. We made a stop at the ‘Little Museum of Dublin‘ a wonderful spot brought to life by enthusiastic guides giving a story associated with each piece of memorabilia on show. The tour takes about 45 minutes and you can roam at will, there was an exhibition at the time telling the story of the US connection with Ireland which Laura very much enjoyed.
From there nothing for us but a spot of shopping, we visited some of the gift stores on Nassau Street and Laura purchased for friends and family. Grafton Street is the pedestrianised area of Dublin and is always full of atmosphere with street performers and musicians galore. To stroll that street alone with its choice of bars and restaurants is almost a days entertainment. We dined on a light lunch at Bruxelles, a haunt of the famous musician Phil Lynott in his day. Easily found by the large sculpture of the rock artist outside the premises.
We had an early date for dinner at the Brazen Head and the story telling evening so with time to change, we headed off into the night again. Phillip was the storyteller of the evening, I was so proud to listen to this man weave his magic with tales of fairies or as perhaps better known ‘the little people’. Each story that fell from his lips had a powerful message all so relevant in todays world. I think Laura particularly loved the evening, of course when that was all over, it was hardly time to go home! Gosh No!
The night was still young, so off we went to Rathmines for a seisuin, this session is a weekly gathering of musicians, drop ins welcome. It was a lovely end to what I hope was an interesting glimpse of Ireland for Laura. Of course there is so much more to share of this lovely island of ours, there is beyond the pale (outside Dublin). I can only hope that one day Laura will return and allow me the privelage to show her around some more.
For some more photos of the trip, visit our Facebook page albums here…
Written by Majella O’Connor