While staying at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel (by the way that special offer I mentioned in my post is now finished….sorry) Graham and I pretended we were tourists and enjoyed exploring Dublin.
So here is a little snapshot of where we went and who we met.
It was Bloomsday when we were there and town was buzzing with lovers of James Joyce, celebrating June 16th dressed appropriately. ‘Ulysses’, his most famous book, tells the story of one day in the life of its anti-hero Leopold Bloom. The lovely couple below had certainly entered into the spirit of the day.
The garden of The Merrion Hotel features a bronze statue of Joyce standing in the middle of certain passages from Ulysses. It also functions as a sundial. The artist Rowan Gillespie was commissioned by an American Jesuit college to craft it. When representatives came to check on progress, the sculptor said they were “absolutely shocked” by some of the passages inscribed on the sundial. They asked to have the offending words removed, the sculptor refused and the US college cancelled the purchase.
That’s when Lochlann Quinn, part-owner of the Hotel and noted art collector, stepped in and bought it.
So America’s loss was Ireland’s gain.
I lived near the Grand Canal while I was in college and I loved sitting by it, having picnics, watching the swans. But I had never walked beside it with Graham. So we took a stroll from the Merrion Hotel.
Exploring Dublin is often full of hidden gems. I was really taken with this Georgian doorway on Leeson Street. What is the story behind its disrepair?
When we reached Leeson Street Bridge we turned right to have a chat with Patrick Kavanagh. Below you can see the back of a classic trench raincoat which belonged to my mother-in-law. The forecast was for rain which never came.
Kavanagh is one of my favourite Irish poets. He spent a lot of time sitting by the canal and found inspiration in its green waters. He asked to be commemorated there, so it is appropriate that the life-size bronze statue is located next to the canal.
He does look a little grouchy in the depiction as he was in life. But he is probably just contemplating the beauty around him.
If you have not read his poetry have a look at the two famous canal poems.
The beauty of the canal was very evident the day we were there and it is easy to see how Kavanagh found it so inspirational.
Very near the hotel, in Merrion Square, lounging on a rock, is a colourful statue of the playwright Oscar Wilde.
He is looking quizzically at his childhood home across the road. Wilde spent much of his life in Britain, with some of that time in Reading Gaol, and both countries lay claim to his genius now. The park is a pleasant oasis from the noise and bustle of the streets around it.
We, of course, also visited Stephen’s Green and had a look a the swans and their cygnets.
And all of these places are within minutes of the hotel.
‘Dublin can be heaven with coffee at eleven
And a stroll round Stephen’s Green’.
There is a lot of truth in those words from the traditional ‘Dublin Saunter’ song.
Sometimes the best places are those closest to home and exploring Dublin can be fun, even if you think you know it well.
I hope you have managed to take a break or staycation or a holiday.
Stay well. Thank you as always for reading.