Sentimento: AR EOCHAIR
(Translation: Feeling on key). (Though, unfortunately, not Marian).
I have to admit it: I get vortexed in when it comes to trinkets. Incredibly so. Buying presents for other people is one of my top three extracurricular activities – I’m a bibelot and gewgaw store’s dream clientele. When I hustled back from the SS last year my suitcase was purely presents – I posted half my clothes home, gave away a third and literally wore the rest. I maintain that zipping up my suitcase upon leaving Nepal was one of the greatest achievements of my life, I should have been presented a certificate.
So being away is incredibly difficult in resisting parting with my cash to asset all the furbelow on offer. The tchotchke, the tsatake; they call to me and beg me to take them home! Henio would love this gaudy Guinness pint, old Carroll’s calls. Oh! How fab would this apron be for Deb, it cajoles. It’s taken all my mental strength to resist and depart Ireland with no more than a handful of postcards, an “Ireland” scarf, a t-shirt and set of baby booties for Hank III and of course, the key ring.
Yes, the key ring. I have decided that rather go cashews and buy memorabilla as soon as I see it, from each country (Paris excluded; I sort of had a momentary lapse and went macadamias buying the fam a fair few little giftings) I am going to buy a key ring to represent my time there. Then, when I get home (whenever and wherever that is), I am going to string them about like baubles around my room. Fab! Smart plan! Now to just resist the rest.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is as I was astounded by the number of Carroll’s stores dotted about Dublin. In Ulysees, author James Joyce said, “A good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub”; no dispute, he is absolutely correct, but i feel it’d be far more challenging to attempt to walk down a single street with busting by a Carroll’s. Seriously, not a word of an exaggeration, I passed three Carroll’s stores within a mere 25m of each other (honestly; I used the step to measurement tactic learnt back in form one to ensure I had the right estimation). And these Carroll’s stores are an Irish wonderland.
Clothes. Whim-whams. Folderol. Key rings, jewellery, figurines, bookmarks, little plaques… you name it, it’s on offer in all its green, shamrocky and leprechauny glory. It’s a real testament to the immense patriotism that the Irish celebrate and display; makes you just want to don on lucky charm boxer shorts with a top hat and roam about with an accordion.
Anyway – to the day!
Initially Kylie and I had planned to roam the city together but on checking her flight details, she realised she was leaving at 6.30am, not in the arvo as first thought. So I made a checklist (the innate organisation will never desert me) the evening previous of what I wanted to tick off; Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Queen of Tarts cake shop (needed to hustle some pics of the famous lemon meringues for Henio) and so forth. So I rose at 8am, careful to not awaken my slumbering hostel bedfellows (although I mindlessly let the door slam behind me – whoops, sorry fellas), laced on my New Balances and headed on my way.
Do you know what I have absolutely adored about being in Dublin? Using a tangible, old education map. What with the old 3 sim card not working in Ireland, data is out and thus navigating by actual palpable map is the go. It has been so refreshing! Trotting about with map out, biro-ing out a route and circling the point of destination; it’s like travelling how it should be, getting lost and asking for directions and unfolding this massive fuck off piece of paper at every corner to make sure you are on the right track.
So anyway, first stop today – St Pat’s Cathedral, the national cathedral of the church of Ireland.
The churches here are incredible, all towering, stately and majestic. The stone structures stand staunch in the middle of the streets (lining the road sides I must clarify, not in the actual roadway) and the insides are colourful hollows of history and beauty. I went inside and – as per every church – lit a candle for the passed on precious. I was being all soulful and shed a tear or two, when the candle I had just lit faulted and then snuffed out. I couldn’t stop giggling; bloody Bampga, I bet he was having a right old chortle as he completely cut my lunch. Luckilly attempt number two took flight (or is that light?) and I departed with the flame on fire.
After a jaunt to Dublin Castle (truly a fortress-looking edifice; until 1922 it served as the seat of the UK government admin in Ireland, but now is home to an independently Irish government), a drop in the Queen of Tarts (got my snap for father and also an offer to be bought a piece of raspberry crumble from a very hungover American lad – after a profuse thanks I turned it down in favour of getting my trot on) and another stop in at the awe-some Trinity College, I headed to the place I had written in capitals on my to-do list: THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND – ARCHEOLOGY EXHIBITION.
(Insert: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how bloody friendly and helpful are the Irish! I’ve always wanted to do a social experiment where in different cities round the globe I stand on a corner with a map and look plainly puzzled, to see if anyone come to my aid to point me in the right direction. Well on my way to the museum I misread my mapped out avenue and was – genuinely – discombobulated on the corner of Leinster and Westmoreland; a benevolent bodach named Bryan asked if I was on point within a mere moment of stand still, then proceeded to take me to my required street. And later on, when on taking note the lid of my pen feel to the ground from my grasp, a lovely young chap instantly bent down to pick it up for me and return it to my hand. As well as the bus building working man who directed me to the correct stop and clasped my forearm in goodbye. That may sound a little squeezy or leersome or what not, but it was genuinely not so; rather, it was like a companionable mark of fondness. So hospitable! Considerate, caring and accommodating. I’ve never experienced anything like it from everyone I cross in one place).
So the museum. As a wee lass I flirted with the idea of becoming an archaeologist – studying Ancient Egypt in topic in year five merged with my love of all things historical led me to believe it was the optimum career choice for me. Plus the idea of dissecting the old and the gruesome greatly appealed to my love-of-sick-stuff side. So when our tour guide from yesterday mentioned the bodies of the bogs and the display of them in the archaeology section of the National Museum, I deemed it a must-do.
What are the bogs?
The word “bog” comes from the Irish “bogarch”, translating as “soft”. A bog is a mire that builds up from peat – that is, deposits of dead plant material. More than 17 per cent of Ireland’s surface is boglands, the third highest proportion in the world (after Canada and Finland). Just one metre depth of bog takes 1000 years to formulate, and the cold, acidic and oxygen-free conditions within the bog’s peat prevent decay with the environment working to mummify and preserve bodies of animals – and humans – within.
Our tour guide had pointed out the bogs to us on the bus, and said how a good hundred human bodies have been discovered within the muddy fields. While some were determined to have been there as the result of accident, a number led the analysts to believe they had been placed there on purpose – in the act of Kingship and sacrifice.
I was enthralled. I wanted to see the bog bods he said were on display for myself. So I bounded up the museum steps, was directed to the display by a bunch of amused desk dwellers, and was in my absolute element.
So the display, well, displayed a handful of the bodies discovered in the bogs, some of which can be dated back to the Iron Age 200,000 years ago. It is believed that they were all young noblemen who had been sacrificed for kingship; what with it necessary to maintain equilibrium between nature and society, the sacrifices were seen as giving back to the land. Clues abound in the surrendered bodies being of aristocracy and peerage in their manicured hands, rich diets (through sifting and scrutinising their stomachs) and by the remaints of hair gel discovered in their once luscious locks – made from the resin of a tree only found in Nothern Spain and Southern France. So, bogged down by my backpack of sightseeing pamphlets and H20 provisions, I gleefully roamed the arena and got up close to all the revived remains.
Meet Baronstown West Man, who was alive and breathing back around 200-400 AD. He was unearthed in 1953 during a peat cutting process and is thught to have been around 25 years old at the time of his death.
And Clonycavan Man, who roamed the earth in about 392-201 BC.He was discovered in February 2003, and although waist down he was severely damaged, his torso was pretty intact. He had a very distinctive Mohawk-like hairstyle going on, as well as the remains of a pretty on point mo and goatee. An extensive analysis of his do took place, finding he was a fan of the expensive hair gel discussed above. As I examined his hair myself, all I could think of was my childhood Cabbage Patch doll Sally, and how Clonycavan Man set a style that was taken up by Hasbro and Mattel multitudinous years on.
Onto Oldcroghan Man, estimated to have been alive abut 175 BC. He was uncovered in 2003 during the digging of a bog drain, and he is pretty much a severed torso that holds insanely-well preserved hands and intact internal organs. An analysis of his stomach found that his final meal had been a banquet of cereal and buttermilk. He was also missing his nipples; apparently, the sucking of the king’s nipples was an ancient Irish form of submission and in Oldcroghan man having his sliced off would have rendered him ineligible for kingship. Well, tits up.
And last but by certainly no means least (he is after all, the most mass of a bod in the display), Gallagn Man. He is thought to be from around 400 BC who was found wy back in 1821. He was found naked bar a deerskin cloak and is thought to have been strangled by its very neck hold. (Observations of oldmate Gallagn had me unable to shake away visions of beef jerky and thoughts of how much Otto would love a chew).
All in all, the museum was not at all bog standard.
I left infused with a great feeling of fulfilment, and made my way back up to O’Connell Street. I saw the markets going on in Moore, so pulled over to have a geeze and was elated on discovering a hair extension shop being manned by a bunch of Jamaican fillies. After a fun time trying on wigs to channel my inner Marian Keyes, I strode on to my next destination.
Hendrick Lane (although the map detailed “Hendrik Lane”). I couldn’t have spotted a street on my map named the same as my dear Dad and Opa and not hike along to it for a pic. So I got my pic (well, a fair few), then saw the time; I was after meeting Dustin and his fam at the Guinness Storehouse at 1pm and being 12.40pm, I needed to dart on.
Now, many had said to make sure I went to the Guinness Storehouse. Part of “doing Dublin”, so I’d been told. So although I wasn’t overly interested, I had it down to tick off so I could claim I’d well and truly done Dublin.
And I am beyond chuffed I did.
Seriously. I thouroughly, thoroughly recommend if you are in Ireland, that you visit the Storehouse in St James’s Gate to pour over the exhibits. The seven storey experience is in a building designed in the shape of a giant pint (if an actual glass, would hold 14.3million Guinnesses in it) and ends at the top floor Gravity Bar that has 360 degree panoramic views of Dublin which you can fawn over as you sip your complimentary Guinness (or take two mouthfuls then pass on to Dustin to finish as you can’t head through the foam and heaviness, take your pick). The floors go through from buying in to orientation and ingredients at ground, brewing, cooperage and transport at one, taste experience at two, advertising and Guinness IQ at three, the academy at four, and onto cafes and bars and what not beyond.
I’m not going to go through the whole process of brewing (I didn’t think I’d be able to beer – purposeful – the boredom of it, but I was truly intoxicated with the whole process) but I need to mention a few things of note and more immense interest.
- The first Guinness was contrived in 1759 – that’s before James Cook even came across NZ! (1769 for all you fiending fun facters)
- The word “beer” is believed to have originated from the Anglo-Saxon “baere” meaning “barley”
- More than 100,000 tonnes of Irish grown barley are used for making Guinness at the St James’s Gate makers each and every year
- Apparently, “yeast is an alchemist” (included as it made me think of Dumbledore)
- Upon opening his works and acquiring the land for the factory, father of the famous bevvy Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease – now that is self belief in our product
- Within 50 years of functioning, the establishment had doubled in size; within 100, Guinness was being shipped to all four corners of the globe. The Dublin location of Guinness works now takes up a whooping 55 acres, from the storehouse to the powerhouse. Will Wonka-esque, it is said that should Dublin ever have an entre failure of power supply, the back ups in the powerhouse holds enough energy to keep the plant pumping and not disrupt the making of the infamous heady drink
- I read all about the process of it coming about, from the mix of ingredients being put in cylindrical ovens at 230 degrees celcius fortwo-and-a-half-hours (it only turns from a pale gold to the rich and dark hue in the last five to ten minutes) before being dosed with 300L of water to be cooled to 135 degrees celcius, to it being “mashed” to look like porridge and placed in a “kieve” (Dublin word for :sieve”; elsewhere all over the world this machinery is referred to as a “mashton”). But my favourite part? At this point in the process, the mixture is known as none other than…. THE WORT. (One of James’ nicknames). For the next fair few signs whenever I read, “The Wort” I broke out into pearls of giggles and took snaps of each and every sign. bear with me as I exhibit a few.
Quotes on the wall declared, “There’s poetry in a pint of Guinness” and that in order to delve deep into the drink, one must always cheers with the “do dheagh shlàinte ” – “to your good health”. I was pumped to actually try the drink, as aside from a mouthful of Henio’s pint a good decade ago when in Taupo and an inquisitive sip of the foam two nights before when Beki’s boyf had it as his tipple, I’d never really properly tried it.
So upon being handed my pint up top after making our way through all the displays, I took a decent gulp down. And it was gross. Bitter yet tangy yet rainwater like. I’d almost go insofar as to say it was – for me – unbeerable. (The barman had a great laugh at my repulsed response and told me to sip below the foam. Which I admit was slightly tastier, But I got four mouthfuls deep then passed it off the Dustin. While I appreciate the history, it’s not really my cup of tea).
But all in all, the Guinness Storehouse is a definite must do. It’s crafty (get that?) and impressively structured and I assure you you will have an ‘ale of a time.
Upon leaving the Storehouse I found I had hit the wall – five hours of tramping about the city will do that to a person on very limited sleep. I made a half-hearted slog the 20 minutes to the Kilmainham Gaol – to find it sold out and closed off, but the façade was impressive – before deciding it was time to Dub(lin)le back to my hostel for a quick kip before my adventures of the night.
(Insert: The Generator in Dublin? Absolutely fantastic as a staying place for one on a budget. I stayed at its counterpart in London, and the Irish sister blew it out of the water. Clean, comfortable, accomodating and with a first-rate (for a hostel) ambience, it was actually less to stay in than my horrid one of my first night. if in Ireland, it’s a goer).
One of the Irish lads from the other night had said about perhaps meeting up one night before I returned back to London, so we organised to go for a pint in the Cobblestones, a little cornerstone pub just down the way. So Fiach came and picked me up from the Generator and we trotted down the street to get a few pints.
It was the simon-pure of Irish pubs.
It was – yet again; I feel this word truly does encapsulate pretty much all my experiences so far – magical. There was such a homely feel to it, all warm and close knit and full of fellowship. And a little bunch of instrument playing people were gathered in a corner, belting out some dinkum Irish tunes.
Fiach told me he was actually a Cobblestones regular, often coming in to have a fiddle – the instrument you ill thinker, not the untoward type of play – with his pals once a month or so. He pointed out each of those engaged in play, including Mick O’Grady, the pub regular who came in daily for some marmalade (I.e., a jam).
As time went on, the door opened more and more often as locals spilled in to join in the kinship feel. Guinness and Bulmers were poured all round, and good natured jostling and joking rose up in volume as all got steadily sozzled. One elderly man stood up and recited a long verse of poetic lyrics which went along the lines of, “Honky tonky, topsy turvy, lass on a river”; that sort of lark. It was stupendous and he received a thunderous round of applause on completion.
Then it was time for the play.
Before leaving NZ I was (once again) back working at my boomerang job at Onyx. One night two ladies were outside having dinner and I recognised one’s accent as being Irish. “I’m going there in two weeks time!” I had exclaimed in delight, prompting a discussion on my love for Ireland and its history.
She told me about her sister who was the producer of a play being shown throughout the month of March and April; “Inside the GPO”, about the Easter Uprising, that was being held – as the title suggests – actually inside the Dublin General Post Office. As the GPO was the building actually the one taken over by the rebels as the headquarters for the rebellion, it was all the more significant a setting. Apparently every evening when the clock struck 5pm and the GPO finished functioning as an the actual postage service for the day, the play’s cast turned it into a stage to perform on and show their, well show.
The lady gave me her sister’s email, upon where we yarned back and forth and she sussed me tickets to the sold out play.
So my final night in Dublin I was super pumped to head to the GPO and see the show for myself. Fiach and I taxied to O’Connell Street where the GPO was located and were hustled inside by the girls on the door.
It was fab; usually I am not really one to go to plays and shows and what not, but this one had me immersed in it. It acted out the happenings of the Easter Uprising play by play (in the one play, I mean; there wasn’t a succession of separates), made all the more pithy by the fact we were actually sitting in the area where it had all actually gone down.
I really, really enjoyed it and found myself deep-seated in the storyline, until I realised the main actor – Ronan Leahy as Patrick Pearse – beared a striking resemblance to the NZ Prime Minister John Key. The magic lessened some from then on, as I spent the rest of the show stifling giggles as I imagined a scenario where old John had a secret double life as a Fishamble actor. (Those two pints had obviously got me better than I had first thought).
Upon the play’s end I was bursting to relieve the bladder, so Fiach and I sprinted down the road to the nearest fast food joint to do so. After making wees, I looked about at the ads adorning the walls and windows. “Isn’t it amazing how although McDonalds is a global chain, different countries have their own take on the menu? Like, NZ McD’s would probably never have like a sandwich on the menu. And meatballs? Not them either!”
Fiach looked at me bemused and said, “Pappy, we’re in Supermax.”
On the way out we were accosted by a busking lady who declared I looked like Britney Spears and was adamant she must play one of her songs for me (we had to stand on the street nodding and looking interested for three-minutes-oh-five until she had played the song through), before we headed back to Cobblestones for a few nightcaps. This time, Fiach jumped aboard and actually played the fiddle too.
As I was watching I engaged in convo with two lads to my left, and we started talking about rugby and the superstar status of the All Blacks in NZ. A man just ahead of me turned around and said, “What’s this about Richie McCaw?” – his name was Christopher, he was a Kiwi and – get this – was an ex Sacred Heart boy whose daughter had been four years below me at Baradene. Seriously, the more of the world you travel, the smaller it gets.
A few hours later I departed for bed, a saddening starting to envelop me as I thought of my imminent leaving the next morning.
I awoke the next day for one last roam around Dublin – including a brief go-to of the Brazenhead, Ireland’s oldest pub dating back to 1198 – then bussed off to the airport to head back to England.
I sincerely felt slightly heartbroken as I boarded my plane. Ireland had really struck a chord with me; I was spellbound with everything about it. I feel that in a former life I must have been an Irish, Nepalese Indian (not sure how that would’ve worked, but I’m going with it).
As we rose up in the air and I looked down at the patchwork landscape of green (so reminiscent of the play mat the brother Michael and I used to have as children that we’d traverse toys cars about on) I knew without a doubt in my mind that I’d be back.
Aaaaaand just touched down in London town!