Quick Trip

June 27, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Brian in Roundstone

Brian in Roundstone

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It was great to be back in Dublin. I arrived in on a Friday, landing at lunchtime. My flight had been delayed four hours, but thanks to Netflix’s streaming movies and free WiFi at the airport, I hardly noticed the time passing. Before I knew it, I was back in Dublin, where my stay was to prove as hectic as ever. I was met at the airport by Ann, who took me home to meet up with Caitriona and Tim. I had a quick lunch with them before rushing off into the city to meet up with Dave. We had planned to hit the new museum in Glasnevin but, due to both of us running late, we skipped that and headed straight to the pub, where we were to meet some other friends of his, fellow cyclists.

Driving through Dublin it seemed to me that the level of traffic continues to decline. On each of my quarterly or so trips home over the past two and a half years the volume of traffic seemed to have dropped by about 10%, and this time was no different. On Saturday I was also struck by how the numbers of people strolling on Grafton Street were down – I would say down to 50-60% of recent years. How much of this was due to a drop in tourist numbers and how much was due to locals staying at home I can’t say. One of the things I miss about being in Dublin is the whole banter with waiters and waitresses; in the States, for whatever reason, it seems that most of the time comments I make go straight over their heads, but in Dublin the give and take makes a meal so much more more fun. After the pub we went for dinner, eating at a place called The Green Hen, where the food was pretty decent and the repartee with the waitresses was lively. I left the guys there and headed off to meet Maureen at one of my old haunts, The Stag’s Head. I hadn’t seen Mo since her return to Ireland a few years ago after an eight year stay in the US, so it was great to be able to catch up. We were joined by Gordon, whom I had warned Mo is completely insane, and sure enough he lived up to his billing. Dave managed to catch up with us after a while, as well, and we had a typical Dublin pub session, with great conversation and a great laugh. Dave and Mo were smart enough to call it a night early, both leaving us around 1am or so, but Gordon and I soldiered on until the wee hours, trying out some of the hostelries in Temple Bar and finishing up with some chinese food. I didn’t make it back to my hotel until 4am, despite not having slept on the plane from NY the prior night.

Saturday morning saw me up and at ‘em early, with a 9am start, notwithstanding my late night the day before. I discovered that Dublin has a new ‘Italian Quarter’ – perhaps an Italian 32nd is a better description – between the quays and Jervis Street. There I met up with Grace, who ironically was heading to NY the next day. Despite her year and a half stay at Yale we hadn’t managed to meet recently, our last meeting being several years ago, so it was great to catch up and drink coffee al fresco while getting sunburnt !

Next item on the agenda was the ‘Taste of Dublin’ at the Iveagh Gardens, hidden off Harcourt Street to the southwest of St. Stephen’s Green. If you were to ask random Dubliners where the Iveagh Gardens are, probably 90% of them wouldn’t have a clue. As it was, I had never set foot in them before now. The weather was absolutely glorious, with the gardens providing a perfect setting for the food fair, which was very impressive. I had originally planned to meet Carmel for lunch, but alas she had to work, so we had to take a rain check. Instead, I trotted off to Ann’s for Tim’s fifth birthday party. His birthday is actually in the summer, but the party was held early so that his school friends could make it. They had a blast, loving the bouncy castle that Ann and Tom had set up in the back garden. Most of Tim’s Irish cousins were there, and all had a great time. Of course, seeing England only manage a draw against the USA in the world cup was the icing on the cake !

Sunday saw me meet up with John for coffee in Bewley’s. It’s hard to believe I left Lake in 1992 or so, although I later did some contract work for them before heading to the US in 1994. It’s always good to catch up and hear how the old gang are doing.
From there I headed out to along the seafront to St. Anne’s park for a picnic with Leanne and Anthony. Unfortunately, while throughout the rest of the trip I basked in glorious sunshine, on this particular day we got absolutely drownded, or completely soaked. Fortunately Leanne had her car, so we were able to drive back to her house where Anthony was waiting for us. The rain didn’t dampen our spirits, and Ella and Sophia entertained us with their singing in Irish, and Leanne gave me a tour of the house. Time just rushed on, and pretty soon it was back to Ann’s for dinner, and then to Niall’s to catch up.

Monday saw me back on the northside, where I stopped in to visit my Aunt Maureen in her nursing home, before heading for lunch with Fr. Eoghan. We met up with Dave once again, lunching at Dunne and Crescenzi, and after saying goodbye to Fr. E I met up with yet another cousin, Yvonne, for coffee. She was trying to land a spot in a lawyer’s office, and so was doing some networking. With the lousy economy it seems like no-one is hiring, but at least I could point her to some relatives who might find some sort of internship for her.

On Monday night it was off to Trinity College, where Cormac O’Raifeartaigh was giving a talk about the Large Hadron Collider at an Astronomy Ireland meeting. The talk was very interesting, but I had to leave as soon as it was over to head over to Neary’s to meet Brendan and Peter for a few pints. It seems I hadn’t seen Peter since before I left Citi, so it was definitely time to catch up, although Brendan had made it to NY since then. We’ll have to try and get together for golf later in the summer- although given our success at organising a cruise on the Shannon I’m not too optimistic…

On Tuesday Cormac MacF came into the club for lunch, so we were able to catch up on life in UCD and some of our mutual friends. After that I had to take part in a conference call which was not too exciting, but then it was time for dinner. Donal and Leanne arrived in about 6:30, and we had our usual good time. We had to cut it short, though, as we were off to The New Theatre for Anthony’s directorial debut. The play was actually pretty good, and since I hadn’t been to his theatre before I was keen to see it. I was quite impressed, and definitely recommend it as a venue. Once the play was over it was off to the pub for a few pints, this time to Brogan’s.

Wednesday saw me take the train to Galway, for the first time in 30 or so years. I figured I’d try it, instead of driving across the country, and instead picked up a car right beside the train station. From there it was just an hour or so to Cashel, in Connemara, although first I headed off in the other direction, to see if Vera was home in Loughrea. Unfortunately she wasn’t, so I didn’t get to see her this trip.

Cashel House Hotel

Cashel House Hotel, in Connemara

It was great to spend the best part of a week in Cashel. The food and service was, as usual, beyond reproach, and the weather was simply amazing – it was like being in Bali, without the heat, with blazing sunshine but temperatures no higher than 70F. Perfect !
Ian came in on Saturday from London, stopping off on his way from Knock to climb Croagh Patrick. On his arrival we headed out by BallyConneelly, stopping off at the Alcock and Brown memorial, commemorating their first transatlantic air crossing in 1919. We continued on to Cleggan, where we had a few pints, before returning to Cashel for dinner. On Sunday morning we climbed Cashel Hill, taking in the spectacular views of the Twelve Pins and Cashel Bay and enjoying the incredible weather. Ian’s trip was all too short, however, and he had to head back after lunch.

The next few days were pleasantly uneventful – apart from a great night with Paddy and Rita Moloney – and spent just as I like them, reading a few books, walking on the beach at Dog’s Bay, and eating and drinking too much. All good things come to an end, however, and Tuesday saw me head back to NY, flying out of Shannon.