Our Day in Dublin
Our Irish tour ended in a flourish of gardens in Dublin … we started our day at our “hotel” for the night. It was chosen for its proximity to the National Botanic Gardens and had we actually stayed there we would have been looking out at the imposing entry gates to the park and may even have taken a stroll there. As it turned out none of this transpired.
We wove our way through the peak hour traffic after emerging from the motorway travelling from Waterford, of course, as I was navigating, we had a few false starts until we finally parked the car in the deserted grounds of the Addison Lodge, it had looked charming on Booking.com, we had envisaged it to be a variation on the country pub you’d expect to punctuate every corner in Ireland. On arrival, it looked a little “dishevelled”. Nevertheless, we pushed through the main entry door where my feet stuck to the lairy carpet that looked and smelt like it had not been touched since the disco era in the 70’s. We took a deep breath and thought… well it is old and frayed but its cheap and it’s convenient.
The place was deserted save for the young lady pottering at the bar, her English was undecipherable, possibly Irish with a Romanian twang but eventually, she managed to check us in and was almost willing to show us our room. Having made it up the soggy staircase to the salubrious wing of guest rooms, she opened the door to a tiny box room with a single bed. Hmm, we thought, a bit of a tight squeeze – not exactly what we had booked. After some time fractiously negotiating with the manager who slid out of the grime, it was established that that particular room was earmarked for some other lucky traveller called Chris. We were allowed to chose a slightly larger grimy room with a squeaky double bed. Jennifer would be pleased she had not booked the adjoining room. We prudently decided to leave our bags in the car and head off on our adventure for the day.
Chris had visited Dublin before and had arranged to catch up with a friend at Trinity College, we followed the canal path towards the city marvelling along the way at the pretty bridges, lochs, waterfowl and majestic trees busy shedding their autumnal coats with the wind. Naturally, we underestimated the timeframe of our walk and emerged from the canal with arms raised trying to hail a cab. We must have looked like hobos because nearly every taxi slowed and passed us by.
I absolutely loved Trinity College…after a hurried catch up on the deck of the University sports bar, we headed to the historic library. Chris had talked enthusiastically about the book of Kells and on our travels around Kerry it was mentioned regularly at various landmarks, so it was with great delight that we jumped the queue for the exhibition, I wasn’t entirely sure of the mechanics but Chris put his hand up for a pair of tickets purchased by someone who apparently had to run and we were ushered through the throng of tourists waiting at the door. I suspected we may have had to run too but the tickets were kosher.
On the advice of our luncheon partner, we headed off to find St Stephen’s Green Park, my knowledge of Ireland’s cultural heritage is sadly sketchy in spite of my own heritage, so as we mooched through the gorgeous gardens, I started to read the plaques adorning the many statues placed strategically along the pathways. The park was the site of one of the 1916 uprising’s strongholds with bullet holes still visible in the masonry. We wandered the gardens in awe sensing a little of Dublin’s recent history and greedily absorbing the hints of the struggle to gain their independence. It was during this feeding frenzy that we came upon the bust of James Clarence Mangan – poet laureate apparently. I made Chris stand beside it to see if I could catch a family likeness… and am still to plunder his life work but apparently, his most loved piece is the Dark Roselean, he has apparently been called one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century. I would imagine his work was the result of trying to overcome his unfortunate circumstances, according to the clippings of his time, “his life may only be considered miserable; he was an opium addict at one time and a hard drinker.”
The Irish Times lists his Dark Rosaleen as their favourite poem.
“This O my Dark Rosaleen,
Do not sigh, do not weep!
The priests are on the ocean green,
They march along the deep.
There ‘s wine from the royal Pope,
Upon the ocean green;
And Spanish ale shall give you hope,
My Dark Rosaleen!
My own Rosaleen!
Shall glad your heart, shall give you hope,
Shall give you health, and help, and hope,
My Dark Rosaleen!…”
After wandering the streets in the twilight we found a bar and perched on swanky stools to catch our breath, then caught our breath again when we calculated the price of the drinks as our dollar continued to sink against the Euro. We decided it was time to find a cosy Irish bar with a band and slightly cheaper beer. Naturally, this is not what happened, we had settled on the little laneway on the other side of the canal with a cheerful Italian but somehow kept moving only to find ourselves almost back at the City centre. The Gresham beckoned and the obliging waitress after pouring me a lovely glass of red and regaling us with tales of her time in Oz, pointed us to Murray’s Bar almost next door for a taste of Irish music and traditional fare.
And so it was, that we were ensconced in the subterranean womb of Murray’s Bar contemplating our trip back to the Addison Lodge. Well, I was contemplating our return, Chris was tucking into his meal, I was thinking about the key we had been given for the room and wondering out loud about whether it would open the door to the hotel which had all the markings of being closed on our return. I had hardly sipped the glass of wine which had just arrived when my digital warrior blanched and suggested we eat up and put the cap back on the bottle of red.
When we finally made it back to the Addison Lodge, we were wide-eyed and slightly agog to find the carpark was now the site office for the roadworks that were being completed on the adjoining cul-de-sac. Our little rental car was tucked behind a monolithic machine with huge tines ready to gauge the offending tarmac stretching out in front of the Botanic Garden gates. Chris grabbed the room key from the car and pressed it into the hand of the night manager before gallantly handing me the car keys.
We were off to the airport to find something a little less exciting! It turns out the Addison Lodge had been the scene of some rather recent underage sex trafficking complaints and the guests from two nights ago had witnessed the bludgeoning of one of the offenders…I had wondered about the neon police tape on the door at the end of the corridor but naively thought it was just off limits and frankly, the hotel looked like it was ready for demolition. We both made a mental note to check the reviews before clicking the book now button.