Under the stain glass of Harry Clark
Friday, 11 am - Outside, the sun has pierced the clouds, lighting up the moist facades. At Hugh Lane art gallery, the rays of sun cross the stained glass of Harry Clarke, who founded the museum in the 1900s, bathing the visitors in their colourful warmth, reminding me John Keats' poem, “The Eve of Saint Agnes”. Like in Keats' verses, through the high window, a “rose-bloom” falls on my hands and “on my hair, a glory, like a saint”. Such is the effect of the light of Ireland. The gallery, one of the first in the world in the field of contemporary art, boasts an incredible collection of the works of Francis Bacon. What's more, admission is free!
Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane
Parnell Square North
Ireland rebels on O'Connell Street
Friday, 12:30 pm - I treat myself to a little stroll through the city on my way to lunch, two kilometres away. I walk down O'Connell Street Upper, Dublin's largest avenue, and stop in front of the emblematic, neo-classical and impressive General Post Office building. Since being built in 1814, it has been the headquarters of the Irish national post office. More than a simple administration, the place is, first and foremost, a powerful historic symbol of the capital, since it played a major part in the famous Eastern uprising in 1916 (Irish revolt against the British occupiers). In memory of the event a statue of Cúchulainn, a hero of Irish Celtic mythology, stands tall front of the building. Now I resume my stroll, crossing the famous O'Connell Bridge headed toward Poolbeg Street, where I'm going to have lunch.
General Post Office
O'Connell Street Lower
Seasonal dishes at Vintage Kitchen
Friday, 1 pm - I enter the modest Vintage Kitchen with its bric-a-brac décor. Despite being close to Trinity College, I don't see any students among the diners. They come in droves in the evening, in this room with space for 20. The customers, relaxed, brush past each other from table to table. On the old record player, crackling vinyl send me back to my youth. I treat myself to a little seafood soup, then a tender breast of mutton, slightly sweetened with molasses sauce, garnished with lentils, pancetta, roasted vegetables and the delicious sautéed potatoes.
The Vintage Kitchen
7 Poolbeg Street
On the campus of Trinity College
Friday, 2:30 pm - Trinity College campus, open to the public, welcomes me with open arms. I climb roam the prodigious Old Library and its Long Room, spread out over two stories of impeccably waxed wood, with its countless treasures. Here we find, the "Book of Kells", one of the most sumptuous illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, which dates back to the year 800, created in the monastery of Iona, an island off the coast of Scotland. I politely refuse to join an illumination workshop, buy myself a souvenir mug from the library and being a rebel, take my leave: women were not allowed in until 1904!
Marching to the beat of Thin Lizzy's drum
Friday, 5 pm - I stroll through crowded Grafton Street, filled with shops: Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein as well as a number of fast food joints line the street, along with countless pubs with dashing paintings. I leave the statue of the buxom fishmonger Molly Malone to take a little detour down Harry Street and stop to admire the bronze statue of Phil Lynott, Irish singer and bass player from the band Thin Lizzy, who died in 1986. “Wack fall the daddy-o”: Listening to the tune of Whiskey in the Jar, I roam through this Temple Bar neighbourhood with its numerous cultural centres. It's started raining again. So, I decide to take shelter and push on to Meeting House Square to view an author's film in the original version at the Irish Film Institute.
Phil Lynott Statue
lrish Film Institute
6 Eustace Street
Guinness Pie at the Schoolhouse Hotel bar
Friday, 9 pm – After a short walk towards Ballsbridge, I savour a Beef & Guinness Pie at the Schoolhouse Hotel bar. It's simply a meat and onion pie, flavoured with Guinness, thyme, sugar, orange peel... and then coated with egg yolk. The night is milder as it progresses. Warm and cosy, facing the fireplace, I relax in a deep armchair, cradled by the sounds of Irish ballads. Languishing, I call, like the poet John Keats, for the supremacy of sensation (Ode on Melancholy). It's time to go up to my room and sleep on a Super King Size bed where I can drift off.
Quartier de Grand Canal Dock
2-8 Northumberland Road
Gulliver at Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Saturday, 10 am – After hiring a DublinBike (self-serve bike hire), here I am in front of an epitaph: “Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity, dean of this Cathedral Church, where savage indignation can no longer lacerate his heart. Go, traveller, and imitate if you can one who with all his might championed liberty.” This is because Gulliver's Travels, a philosophical tale, was censured and modified by the vindictiveness of Queen Anne. I depart from the North transept of the cathedral to gaze at the beauty of its central nave, its stained glass and its Gothic architecture, dating back to the 18th century, in stark contrast to the austerity of its grey granite façade.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Close
Black pudding and Yeats in a literary bistro
Saturday, 2 pm – Swift's vindictive prose has given me wings. Here with the poet and playwright William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), I have my lunch. “the heavens' embroidered cloths, / Enwrought with golden and silver light, / The blue and the dim and the dark cloths / Of night and light and the half-light, / I would spread the cloths under your feet: / But I, being poor, have only my dreams; / I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. (He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven)”… Definitely worth a Nobel prize (1923). I put the book back down on a loaded bookshelf and turn my attention to rustic food: a wonderful black pudding which I spread on house bread.
The Winding Stair
40 Lower Ormond Quay
Irish nature at St. Stephen's Green
Saturday, 4 pm – I won't be visiting the James Joyce Centre yet this time (I haven't managed to finish Ulysses yet), or even the Dublin Writers Museum. Enough literature for today! I cross the river again to enjoy watching Irish families strolling through the very popular Victorian park, St. Stephen's green. In the middle of the city, we find the beauty of Irish nature in all its glory. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know” writes John Keats, and I breathe it in.
St. Stephen's Green
John Keats in a pub
Saturday, 9 pm – The lounge of my luxurious boarding house features a lovely pub atmosphere. I lecture on the epitaph engraved on the tombstone of John Keats, at the non-Catholic cemetery of Rome (where he's joined by Shelly): “Here lies one whose name was writ in water”. But, now it's time to go to bed. Tomorrow, I have to get up early and grab a taxi to the airport. Once I've returned to my quarters, I'll never look at rain the same way again, and for a long time to come, I'll remember Dublin, as I will the words of Swift and Keats...