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On Raglan Road

Posted in Uncategorized by sndybeech on June 26, 2011

June 26, 2011

No, I didn’t find myself there today but I did sit with Patrick Kavanagh (at least a bronze version of him) and, even though it’s unlikely that you know the name, the lyrics to On Raglan Road are his–a poem set to a traditional Irish tune.

We went to the very small town of Inniskeen last week because he was born there–saw the house, stood at his grave and spent time at the very well-done Patrick Kavanagh Center. Check him out. His poetry is very accessible and very grounded in the land. He didn’t leave the farm until his mid 30s.
This evening I went to a benefit for One In Four–a non-profit that provides services and support to men and women who have experienced sexual violence. A completely different Irish experience. A jazz vocalist, a former jailer who has become a humorist! two wonderful poets and then a group of gay men who had set interviews with gay men in Ireland and NYC to music. It’s called Silver Stars; it was gut wrenching. One was a man who left Ireland in order to live honestly and his mother came to Paris to tell him her priest told her God says he’s a sinner but “she loves him more than God.”

The sun continues to shine on me

Turns out Raglan Road was right in my neighborhood and I stumbled on it 2 days later–pretty small to get its own song!

Back in Dublin

Posted in Uncategorized by sndybeech on June 25, 2011

June 25, 2011

One of the most interesting parts of travel for me are the tiny cultural differences, e.g. when I was in Australia nearly 25 years ago, restaurants would refuse to give me bread if I had not ordered soup. Here the custom of when you get bread seems to be similar, but the Irish are so nice and so accommodating, they’ll bring you bread if you ask. Bread only comes with soup or appetizers and when that course is over the bread, the bread plate and knife are removed.

Today I walked nearly nine miles, mostly orienting myself to the city but I did go to a street market that’s only open on Saturday and the Museum of Decorative Arts. Walked along the Quay and looked at the many bridges. The River Liffey is not wide, according to gmaps only about .05 of a mile, so a new bridge isn’t billions as we seem to need to build the one some people think we need over the Columbia. Not only are there fifteen Liffey bridges (more over the canals), some built recently, three of them are named after writers: James Joyce, Sean O’Casey and Samuel Beckett. (maybe more are and aren’t writers I know?) The Samuel Beckett reminds me of the Bridge of the Woman in Buenos Aires. This picture is of the Buenos Aires bridge. When I get back to Portland I’ll post the Beckett–computer is not allowing me to download pictures from my camera now!

Okay, here’s some photos of the bridge in Dublin–including 2 because they really are different when you get close

I feel quite at home: the weather might be Oregon. Today was lovely, about 70. Yesterday was much cooler and pouring. But I am lucky, it looks like it will stay pretty dry the rest of my visit. And I was lucky as I traveled around too. The Aran Islands were incredible. 7000 miles of stone walls–some Japanese anthropologists came and measured them we were told 🙂 The best was going to Inishman, the least populated island where J.M. Synge stayed. We heard 150-200 people living there. And we were lucky with the weather there too. It only rained really hard late at night and wasn’t nearly as cold as I’d been warned it might be. I brought way more layers than I needed.


Posted in Uncategorized by sndybeech on June 16, 2011

June 16, 2011

The big day! Started with a traditional Irish breakfast  at a big hotel (including
kidneys–Bloom cooks himself a kidney for breakfast in an early chapter). Dublin’s Lord
Mayor in attendance (wearing his ‘chain,’ this gold colored big chain with a
medallion–by big I mean a couple of inches wide)–he came over to our table and
greeted us. When I said I was from Portland he immediately started asking about our
light rail system–he was in Portland when it was first being built–they have one now too.
At the next table a openly gay politician who our guide says may become the next

After we had finished eating the entertainment began with an actor playing Buck
Mulligan doing the opening lines of the book wearing a yellow dressing gown, of course.
Followed by several wonderful scenes including: Bloom bringing Molly the letter in bed,
Bloom buying the sexy book for Molly, the bar maids giggling, Mrs. Breen telling Bloom
about the postcard, Mulligan and Stephen arguing at breakfast, Bloom telling the anti-
Semites Jesus is a Jew and, of course, the last part of Molly’s chapter…Yes, I said,
Yes. Excellent actors.

After that a young historian took us on a tour to more places mentioned in the book
including the school where Stephen taught, the pharmacy where someone weighed
himself, the block the Blooms lived on (the whole block is a hospital now so the building
is gone)…

There were many people in costume on the streets, some performing but more just
dressed up. My favorite thing we came upon was the costumed group perched on the
Molly Maguire stature (calling mussels and cockles alive alive o) holding signs: Molly
says Yes Yes Yes to Economic Justice; Bloom says No No No to IMF.

We stopped by the pub where Bloom had a glass of wine and a gorgonzola sandwich
(that was their special today) but it was too crowded to eat there so ate at another pub,
then on to St Stephen’s Green (big park) where various actors were reading from the
book on the bandstand. It started pouring but fortunately didn’t last too long. There was
even an opera aria!

Finally, enough Ulysses and on to the National Library where there is a large Yeats
exhibit. I am suffering from pretty severe jetlag today so I dozed in and out listening to
recordings of his poems and watching a couple of short films–one on his women. Maud
Gunn was gorgeous! I’ll return to the library. I didn’t have time to finish the exhibit or see
the reading room. What I did see of the building was very impressive. The tile work
around the mirrors in the women’s room was so spectacular I took two photos!

Tomorrow the Aran Islands!

June 15th– Ireland

Posted in Uncategorized by sndybeech on June 15, 2011

Our first real day! Had an Irish breakfast today: fried egg (the yoke was half the size of
an egg one would get in an American restaurant!) Bacon, 2 large sausages, a slice of
‘black’ sausage and one of ‘white’ and a grilled tomato.

We took the DART into Dublin–actually thru Dublin to the south suburb of
Sandycove to visit the James Joyce Museum in the Martello Tower where Joyce once
stayed for a week in 1904 and which is the setting of chapter 1 on Ulysses. We had a
great introduction from the curator, looked at art and artifacts – my favorite a touching
and beautifully written letter Joyce had written to Nora Barnacle, the woman he would
later marry–then climbed the very narrow winding stone stairs up to the one
living/kitchen/bedroom (oh what a damp place this must have been to live in!) then a
second set to the room with it’s view of the sea all the way across Dublin Bay to Howth
where we had come from! Below us was the Forty Foot Bathing Pool also in chapter 1.
Afterwards 2 of our group went swimming there–a very different place than in Joyce’s
day when it was a nude beach for men only (the sign calls it the Gentlemen’s Bathing
Pool) where people came to get clean. Now there is another sign says Togs Must Be Worn.

Lunch nearby at Fitzpatrick’s Pub which is not mentioned in Ulysses
because Joyce had a falling out with them over his unpaid bill. Nonetheless, it has been
‘granted the James Joyce Pub Award for being an authentic Dublin Pub.’ The walls are covered with drawings and paintings of Joyce are  there is a stained glass window
for each of the eighteen chapters in Ulysses. The food was good too.

Back on the DART to the center to visit the chemist’s shop of chapter 5
where Bloom bought a bar of lemon soap (they still sell it), ordered lotion to be made up
for Molly and outside of which gave his inadvertent horse tip to Bantam Lyons. The shop is now a non-profit and no longer a real compounding pharmacy. They sell the lemon soap and used books now and are staffed by volunteers. One of them donned a bowler had and talked to us about the place and Joyce and read the passage that takes place there. We were served lemon cake and tea.

We also visited the church down the block from the same chapter, sitting briefly in the part of the church where
Bloom sat (I know if you are not into Ulysses this all seems nuts, but trust me, if you put
the energy into reading this amazing novel you’ll understand!)

Just around the corner is a house where Oscar Wilde lived as a child; across the street
is a park with an excellent statute of him and an art installation with what I assume are
quotes of his–some very witty, of course. Many pictures takes.

We then walked around the lovely campus of Trinity College before taking the train
back to Howth for a tasty fish dinner–it was good but everything was very fussy–I would
have preferred a nice plain piece of grilled fish–it all comes from the Howth fishing fleet so is very fresh.

Ireland June 14

Posted in Uncategorized by sndybeech on June 15, 2011

On the second leg of the plane trip I sat next to a lovely Irish woman, who has been in
Canada for 55 years, going home for her 80th birthday party so didn’t get as much
reading done as i would have liked but had a pleasant time.

Landed at 8:30 am Blue skies! Luggage arrived very quickly and I took the airlink bus to
Dublin Center–not as pretty a ride as I would have liked but we did drive along the
waterfront coming into downtown. I missed my stop because I didn’t hear him call it–no
p.a.–and the brochure I was given listed stops that aren’t. Had to walk an extra 2 or 3
blocks to the rail station but found the DART easily. Longish walk to the hotel with so
much luggage but ok. Nice hotel. So tired I had to go to bed immediately and slept on
and off until 2 then I took a walk to Howth just down the road: ½ hour to get there, ½ on
the dock and ½ hour back–some good pictures–fishing boats, island, charming
buildings. Pretty touristy on the dock road with lots of seafood restaurants but touristy in
the way places in the US were 50 years ago.

This is a pretty posh area and the houses along the road there (the main road) were
quite lovely, all with walls and gates and many with names at the entrance. Some
names seemed like they could be the surname of the family but others were clearly
house names. There was even a Heathcliff (didn’t see an attic)

Five pm we met with the group for info and dinner. Food mediocre–salmon, 2 kinds of
potatoes, some overdone vegies and a great dessert of cream puffs. Nice group it

Off now to the Joyce Museum!

Ireland Trip Diary June 13, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by sndybeech on June 13, 2011

2/3 of all people who have made it to 65 are alive today–sign/ad in Toronto airport breezeway

I’m on my way to Dublin for Bloomsday and more. An easy flight on Air Canada; from
Portland to Toronto–only 4 ½ hours, but now a 6 hour layover.

I don’t fly that often; the last time I discovered blankets and pillows had disappeared. They had them on my flight today but charged $3. Headsets the same. Mine were in the overhead with my MP3 so I contentedly watched silent TV: marvelous animation on their Canadian Film Board channel.

This is, of course, a major world airport and flights are leaving for all parts: Egypt, Peru, Germany, Poland, etc. Some great art including a Richard Serra and a temporary display of crafts which includes glass, ceramics, metal work and textiles. I took a good picture but my netbook won’t recognize my camera anymore.

Will try to do a daily entry…stay tuned please