June 14th - DAY 10. I'm in a hotel in Dublin this evening, taxi booked for the run to the airport in the morning. We woke up this morning to sun peeking through the clouds and gorgeous views from our upstairs skylight-window. Oh, Ireland, how sweet you are in your gowns of patchwork green and sunlight.
Clouds began to move in as I went out for a walk on the farm lanes while Cel took care of her morning ablutions. Across the road from our lodgings the local cows marched in a long, straggling line from their milking shed to pastures beyond. On the other side of the river I glimpsed another farmer moving his freshly-milked cows up another lane with the help of a quad bike. I tried to spend a little quality time in this last while with Ireland, walking one last narrow lane amidst acres of grain that nodded in the fields not occupied with grazing cows. Among the hedgerows birds twittered and wild roses wafted their perfume on the breeze.
I finally headed back to the house and breakfast. There Cel and I ate with a view of the garden where the sun briefly warmed the roses and petunias. Breakfast was delicious with all the fixin's and then it was time to bid the garden and the house with its beautiful conservatory farewell.
Rain showers punctuated by glimpses of sun escorted us northeast towards Dublin, but even now we weren't in any hurry to return the press of civilization. Celebsul opted to shift off onto the N81 and so we wended our way through little towns and rolling green fields. At Blessington heavier storms began oozing in from the sea and we stopped there for lunch, picking a traditional-looking pub and restaurant. There Cel introduced me to the wonders of chicken pate - actually very yummy when served with toast and a garnish of some kind of jam. I ate my fill, that's for sure! Then as the rain moved in again, we moved on.
At last we arrived in Dublin, maneuvering our way around the M50 highway that circled the city to find our lodgings at the Skylon Best Western Hotel. Let's just say that website photos may not be quite accurate. The place looked a bit tatty and *tiny,* tucked between taller buildings and we in fact missed it on the first pass. They had a parking garage but their pay-and-display kiosk was broken so we got to park for free. But the desk people were nice and a young man cheerfully hauled our luggage from the car to our room. The room was surprisingly spacious, more than enough room for the two of us and I reckoned it would do.
Once freshened up, Celebsul and I went into the city center on the bus and submerged into the boiling busy-ness that is Dublin. It's big, boisterous, cosmopolitan and avant-garde, the old dragged bodily forward in time by the new. On its busy streets I saw more varieties of human in the space of three hours than I normally see in a year. This city bustles, strides, teems, honks and lurches down narrow streets in two-story buses, and between it all whisk the derring-do on bicycles.
We took a brief, lovely respite from the throng by touring Christchurch Cathedral. It is indeed a bastion of peace and the keeper many tales. We explored it thoroughly, paid our respects to whatever Presence lingers there and even visited the historic catacombs under the building. Here amongst the displays of relics and shadowy but nonetheless ornate stone memorials to noblemen long forgotten, I was more than a little amused to find a gift shop down in those dark, stony bowels. I wondered just how much business the little gal minding the shop actually got. Back up in the waking world, I took a look at the black stone effigy of Strongbow and marveled at the stained glass windows. Then out we fared into the aged streets once more.
We rambled through a few cramped little shops and found a cozy little nook for supper, where besides yummy sandwiches they kept a mouth-watering display of baked goods. We resisted the temptation, however, and once fed we resumed our wanderings. Funny how just coming at the city from another angle makes it seem new all over again. I was here a year ago and yet the simple fact of a different hotel and a different bus route gave me a slightly disjointed sense of finding things strange and familiar all at once.
Dublin is too much city for me to stand for very long, but perhaps she is a fitting simile for Ireland today: a place with an ancient and storied past, but in far too much of a busy hurry reaching the future to fuss much about things that are gone. Except the Rising of 1916. On every lamp post and corner it seemed I saw banners or signs commemorating the century since Irish patriots - or perhaps Irish zealots, depending on who's telling the story - blasted their ill-fated way into history and perhaps carved a path towards Irish independence. One never loses track of the fact that one is, unequivocally, in Ireland.
Finally the hour began to grow late and we caught a bus back to our hotel. One more morning, one more long flight home and the great adventure is over. Thanks, Celebsul, my friend of many adventures, for coming with me on this incomparable journey through the land of my forefathers! Slainte!
TO CLOSING THOUGHTS.
TO CLOSING THOUGHTS.