Thursday, February 11, 2016

Travel Report: EPT12 Dublin, Arrival -- Ballad from Kilmainham Gaol

Checking in here at the end of a very, very long day for your humble scribbler. In truth it was a night plus a day plus part of another night, as that’s what has transpired for me since my last post from the Charlotte airport Wednesday afternoon.

From there I flew up to Philadelphia early last evening, then after a longish layover took the redeye across the ocean to Dublin, Ireland where I landed around breakfast time here. Took a taxi into the city, and despite being a little fuzzy-headed from a lack of sleep on the crowded, narrow-bodied 757 that American Airlines chose to fly me over the Atlantic, I greatly enjoyed the conversation with my amiable driver who taught me a great deal about the current tram strike (“53% pay increase they want!”), the upcoming elections (“They serve one year then get lifetime pensions -- a sham!”), and the identities of those piloting other stop-light-ignoring taxis we witnessed (“Not Irish.”).

Got to my hotel -- my home-away-from-home for the next week-and-a-half -- where I thankfully was able to check in early and rest up a little. Soon, though, my colleague Howard Swains arrived and he recruited me to accompany him on a sight-seeing excursion that wound up carrying us all over the city.

We rented bikes for the purpose, and pedaled clear across to the west side of Dublin where we arrived just in time for a fascinating hour-long tour of the famous Kilmainham Gaol. First built in 1796, the prison was the site of public executions while housing men, women, and children throughout the 19th century. It became a flashpoint during the 1916 Easter Rising as the site where leaders of the revolt were executed almost exactly 100 years ago. The prison closed in the 1920s, then in the 1960s became a museum.

Kilmainham has been used as a location for a number of films, including The Italian Job, In the Name of the Father, and Michael Collins. U2 shot an early video there, too, in which they run about the panopticon-style jail and in the famous prison yard where the executions occurred.

It was an eerie place to walk about, with the tour guide doing well to evoke some of the horrors experienced by those who long ago had tread the same paths through the narrow hallways, in and out of the small cells, and around the yard. (That’s Howard below, serving a sentence of a moment or two in one of the cells.)

We saw a lot else and I managed to take a lot of photos, too, some of which I’ll try to share over the next several days. By the evening I managed a quick trip over to the venue to meet up with Gareth Chantler during the dinner break of the UKIPT Main Event which he’s playing, and we had a very enjoyable visit talking about his many travels, James Joyce, and Jonathan Swift. Then after that Howard, Stephen Bartley, and I had a nice dinner at the restaurant located at the Schoolhouse Hotel not too far from where we are, followed by a visit to the adjacent pub.

I’m a little disoriented but I think that added up to about 24 hours, close to 4,000 miles of flying, around 10 miles’ worth of bike riding and walking, and well over 20,000 steps (says Fitbit) since I was sitting in the airport terminal.

Too tired to scribble more now, but I’ll be back again with more tomorrow, likely after having spent a less manic day watching folks play poker at the Royal Dublin Society. More to come.

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Blogger AgSweep said...

After your tour of the gaol you will appreciate my favorite Irish ballad. Have your hanky ready.

2/13/2016 12:35 PM  

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