"This lovely land that always sent its writers and artists to banishment ..."

Ireland

David is off for a week to Ireland, centered around the celebration of Bloomsday in Dublin.

In James Joyce's novel Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and a cast of dozens spent June 16, 1904 meandering about Dublin doing pretty ordinary things, for which they have been immortalized.  It's likely the reader will agree that this web site, which will describe meanderings in the same general locale, merits an earlier demise.

The trip is under the auspices of the Academic Enrichment Workshops working with http://www.discoverytours.ws/ .  Half of the week will be spent in Sligo, in the northwest.  There we will study W.B, Yeats, the favorite poet of D's youth.  The rest of the week will be spent in Dublin, where we are to be housed at Trinity College and will be concentrating on Ulysses.

Ulysses is not an easy read.  A practical algorithm:

  1. read a "cliff notes" synopsis of a chapter
  2. read the chapter
  3. read or listen to a learned dissection of the chapter.  (Ulysses has provided much employment for learned dissectors, some of whom save their sharpest scalpels for their learned colleagues!)
  4. oh my god, how many chapters are in this damned thing?

 

June 10-11, 2007

Overnight Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, hoping to catch up on homework.  Forget it, arrived at 6 AM, waited till 10 AM to learn that everybody else's flights were late.  6 "students" (all private high-school English teachers excepting David) trooped into a bus at about noon, and took the long way to Sligo, namely passing through Northern Ireland.  No shots fired, no border check, just an old deserted police station.  Arrived Sligo about 5 PM, time for a quick wash before we headed off to a "Yeat's dinner".

Two more students (also high-school teachers) joined us in Sligo.  In toto, Heather, Graham, Fred, Ellen, Jeff, Matt, Leah and David under the tutelage of Dan and Debbie.

Dinner was at the Innisfree  (lakeside) home of Damien Brennan, a personable and accomplished scholar of Yeats and gastronomie.  Damien prepared the meal, read Yeats selections, and patiently edified travel-weary students.

In bed before midnight, the pumpkin picks us up early tomorrow.

 

June 12

At left, the Clarion Hotel in Sligo on a cloudy Tuesday AM.  A former institution (criminally insane?), the Clarion now houses our 8 slightly loopy students in very nicely appointed apartments at the rear.

We bussed off to town for a lecture at the Yeats museum.  Then to Yeats' burial site, and thence on a pleasant bus tour around the area.  Cloudy and very green.  Dinner at a new restaurant in Sligo, where there were some difficulties in communicating with the servers, who weren't entirely sure what ingredients go into Irish coffee.

 

June 13

A free morning, most students hiking and/or taking seaweed baths.  The afternoon spent with a local raconteur visiting legendary Sligo county sites.  Little to do with Yeats, much to do with the spiritual environment that nourished him.

We had dinner in a local waterfront restaurant.  Some local and US golfers came over and sang a very passable "Danny Boy" with our very own Fred.  Near riots ensued, must be something in the water.

June 14

We left early and arrived in rainy Dublin to get settled in to our Trinity College apartments.  A local young gentleman gave us a historical tour of Temple Bar and the immediate area.  Dinner was followed by a lively "Joycean Pub Crawl", conducted by our host Professor Burt (in center on left) and a Dublin raconteur and author.

Landline internet connectivity at Trinity is for professors and students.  There's spotty wireless for guests, but you have to apply via internet and receive your credentials via email.  Chicken/egg?  I.e. this website may not be updated until David returns to the States.

June 15

The last pre-planned day of the Yeats/Joyce tour may have been the best.  First we visited the Joyce Museum in Sandycove, where the opening chapter of Ulysses takes place.  A terrific wind off the Irish Sea abbreviated a short lecture.  Next we continued  with a wind and rain storm on the beach where Joyce's hero Bloom fantasized about a local young lady.  Half the troop gave up after this.

The rain let up a little when we went to the Glasnevin cementary, where much important Ulysses plot unfolds.  On the right, one of the more famous Glasnevin residents.  A strangely moving epiphany for David at Maud Gonne's resting place, closed cycle or widening gyre?

The sky cleared as we headed for a two mile hike along a oceanside cliff near Howath, the site of Leopold and Molly Bloom's first tryst.  Gorgeous.  The best day of the week.  Tomorrow, a free-form dive into Bloomsday.

 

June 16

Bloomsday.  Dublin is crowded with folks who neither know nor would care about James Joyce, but there are hundreds of Joyce Trekkies, many in costume, conducting and attending reenactments around the town.  Many of our group attended faithfully, faithless D walked off to the Guinness Storehouse tour, the view on left from the pub on the top floor.  Thence to The National Library for a Yeats exhibition.

On the walk to the Joyce Centre, D passed a statue of Joyce and a rapper calling lost souls to Jesus.  At the Joyce Centre there were re-enactors invoking lost souls to Bloom.  David, whose soul is simply taking a nice nap, walked on by.  A pleasant little adventure.

Replacing the Wellington, or was it Nelson, monument blown up by the IRA, we see below the "Stiffie on the Liffey".