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A quick pic from my place of birth

Four Courts Dublin, November 2009

There was I wandering about on the Quays in Dublin by the River Liffey. It was sodden brass-monkey weather as I had to keep dodging the rain, like effing April showers that creep up on you and drench you with cold injustice. My camera was with me and I was holding a banjaxed umbrella in my left hand while attempting to snap away. I must have looked a sight in the dampened surroundings. All of a tic, I was resting against a wall on Merchant’s Quay opposite this well-known grand yoke of a building, you know, old and fancy-looking like them big places over the water in England. I was staring at this Georgian edifice when a well-dressed woman approached me saying “I think you need this more than I”. She thrust something into my hand and with that she was gone this fancy one with her confident Anglo-Irish tone to match her sensible, old-fashioned outfit. I glanced at my unexpected gift, a creased bit of paper that looked like it had been torn from a notebook with the date, 1937 inscribed on it. It read:

“To many an Irish person looking at this image of the Four Courts, it is redolent of ‘home’, of Ireland’s capital city, with the River Liffey flowing nearby. And yet the Four Courts (Chancery, King’s Bench, Exchequer and Common Pleas) based on a classical Palladian blueprint of James Gandon, a London-born architect who went to live in Dublin and designed a number of important public buildings in one of Europe’s largest and thriving cities at the zenith of British (colonial) rule there in the late 18th century.

“The benign aesthetic appeal of this landmark belies a turbulent past where colonial domination, religious and political marginalisation, historical loss and national resurgence are part of Ireland’s cultural texture.

"After the disastrous fire in 1922 during the Civil War, the newly-installed Free State government of the time had neither the inclination nor the money to restore the Four Courts to its former glory imbued with the influence of a foreign power in occupation of Ireland for over 700 years. To this day you can still see evidence of Ireland's recent bloody past in the form of bullet holes in the fabric of the building." 

My mind was on other things so I stuffed the paper into my coat pocket and decided to take advantage of a dry spell as I stood there on the Quays. I took a photo of the reflection of the Four Courts in the slow-moving River Liffey. But instead of being satisfied with an upside-down image, I flipped the thing round to come up with a (right-way up) picture which was shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London, in 2010 -  as attached to this article.

But as it happens, I've kept this weird, A5-sized battered manuscript gifted to me from this chance encounter with an unknown lady by the River Liffey and despite its air of stilted officialdom, this snapshot of history resonates with me as I lost something of great value - as did many other Irish people - in the catastrophic fire of nearly a century ago at the Four Courts. We Irish lost much of our (official) history. You see, the inferno took with it many of the nation's government records prior to 1922 and delving into our past is now made that bit more difficult because of the actions of some warring Irishmen fighting amongst themselves - not that of a foreign power, mind you.

The quirks of Irish history that make us, er, Irish, I suppose.

 

  

Comments 13

 
Katherine Gregor on Monday, 25 July 2016 11:10

Very interesting, Nicholas.

Very interesting, Nicholas.
Nicholas Mackey on Tuesday, 26 July 2016 09:49

Thank you, Katia for reading and your comments are always appreciated.

By the way, 1937 (the date written on the document mentioned in my article) was a very important year in modern Irish history as the country's (written) constitution came into force and where many of the vestiges of foreign colonial rule were stripped away in a youthful Irish Republic that was only 15 years old then.

Thank you, Katia for reading and your comments are always appreciated. By the way, 1937 (the date written on the document mentioned in my article) was a very important year in modern Irish history as the country's (written) constitution came into force and where many of the vestiges of foreign colonial rule were stripped away in a youthful Irish Republic that was only 15 years old then.
Rosy Cole on Monday, 25 July 2016 13:30

A powerful story of how a chance encounter can bring so much revelation into the lens and crystallise it . I think the spirit of William Butler Yeats lingers about this image of your birthplace. What would he have made of such an incident, I wonder?

A powerful story of how a chance encounter can bring so much revelation into the lens and crystallise it . I think the spirit of William Butler Yeats lingers about this image of your birthplace. What would he have made of such an incident, I wonder?
Nicholas Mackey on Tuesday, 26 July 2016 10:33

I've noticed that over the many years I've been taking photos - since the early 1970s, in fact - that there is now a tale attached to each image. I could probably produce a book with such anecdotes behind the pictures shown. Maybe that's an idea for a future project!

Interesting that you quote W.B. Yeats as Ireland being the small country that it is, when I was a student at Trinity (in the early '70s) two of my contemporaries were the granddaughters of Yeats and around the same period when I attended French classes at the Alliance Française de Dublin, one of my 'classmates' was the son of Ireland's illustrious poet, Senator Michael Yeats.

Thank you for your kind words about my writing on an event which revolved around the simple act of taking a photograph.









I've noticed that over the many years I've been taking photos - since the early 1970s, in fact - that there is now a tale attached to each image. I could probably produce a book with such anecdotes behind the pictures shown. Maybe that's an idea for a future project! Interesting that you quote W.B. Yeats as Ireland being the small country that it is, when I was a student at Trinity (in the early '70s) two of my contemporaries were the granddaughters of Yeats and around the same period when I attended French classes at the Alliance Française de Dublin, one of my 'classmates' was the son of Ireland's illustrious poet, Senator Michael Yeats. Thank you for your kind words about my writing on an event which revolved around the simple act of taking a photograph.
Rosy Cole on Thursday, 28 July 2016 14:57

A book of pictures and anecdotes sounds like an inspired idea. I really hope you will pursue it, Nicholas.

Some time ago, I lamented the introduction of images on Twitter, but there can be no doubt that they snag attention, impart information and conjure atmosphere. (It's up to users to make sure they get the kind of feed they want.) It's true shares and retweets may sometimes be on account of the picture alone - in your case that's got to be good! - but it's one way of getting posts into timelines they wouldn't reach...and, coupled with (recognised) hashtags, this can make quite an impression on the hit counter overall.

A book of pictures and anecdotes sounds like an inspired idea. I really hope you will pursue it, Nicholas. Some time ago, I lamented the introduction of images on Twitter, but there can be no doubt that they snag attention, impart information and conjure atmosphere. (It's up to users to make sure they get the kind of feed they want.) It's true shares and retweets may sometimes be on account of the picture alone - in your case that's got to be good! - but it's one way of getting posts into timelines they wouldn't reach...and, coupled with (recognised) hashtags, this can make quite an impression on the hit counter overall.
Barbara Froman on Monday, 25 July 2016 18:59

I loved reading this...the glimpse into the past. There's so much I didn't know. Thank you, Nicholas, for the history and your reflections. :-)

I loved reading this...the glimpse into the past. There's so much I didn't know. Thank you, Nicholas, for the history and your reflections. :-)
Nicholas Mackey on Tuesday, 26 July 2016 10:49

Thank you, Barbara for taking the time to read and to comment - I'm very grateful.

Being the son of an historian, I was extremely fortunate to be exposed to so many ways of viewing the past and thankfully my father always held to the view that history was to be presented without bias.

Thank you, Barbara for taking the time to read and to comment - I'm very grateful. Being the son of an historian, I was extremely fortunate to be exposed to so many ways of viewing the past and thankfully my father always held to the view that history was to be presented without bias.
Nicholas Mackey on Wednesday, 27 July 2016 07:01

I don't know about you, fellow writers, but I am never satisfied with what I write. And this morsel about the Four Courts Dublin is no exception. I am truly grateful for the time people have taken to read and even to make the additional effort in commenting on what I have written. It does lift my heart when I see that some thoughtful person has said something in response to my attempt at describing an event on a truly awful winter's day of nearly seven years ago in connection with the fairly mechanical operation of taking a photo - such comments really do 'add value' to my existence and I am buoyed up by it. Thank you.
As an aside, I revised this article 19 (yes, you read correctly, nineteen) times before it became partly acceptable to me. More about this later.

I agree entirely with the sentiments so ably expressed by Barbara in her recent article about plagiarism in which she goes on to describe the challenges experienced in writing. When reading this I said to myself, "That's exactly how I feel. Barbara has hit the nail on the head of the remorseless struggle when writing." If it reads well, then probably the author shed blood, sweat and tears in the creation. Other writers have talked openly and cogently about their battles to tease out the correct word, the well-formed sentence, the smooth-flowing paragraph and then the page that sits well within the tale being conjured up from the imagination. But the truth is that writing is a bit like a wrestling match with a sullen opponent who is of inexorable strength ready to cast aside your nebulous inspiration, your fragile dreams, your nervous first attempts at drafting those incomplete ideas on paper for the very first time. So easily our first endeavours into this magical and wonderful world of the creative can be thrown off course and wrecked on the needle-sharp rocks that represent the reality of our daily existence. English teacher admonitions about mixed metaphors come to mind all of a sudden - I can't imagine why!

And the above reference to numerous revisions relates to how I try to put down my ideas on paper as it were - not always successfully I hasten to add - but here goes: often ideas for writing come to me visually, a bit like a film or video that plays out a single short episode - often with dialogue and varied angled views - or even a complete story unfolds in the realms of my filmic imagination and I rejoice in its fluency, the scintillating precision of the story as it clips along at a fair pace and I enjoy the 'ride' so much. Then I awake from my (day)dream and very quickly the finely-textured fabric of my story begins to unravel. As fast as I can, I begin to write, often in vain, attempting to recapture the excitement and magic of the story I had swirling around so effortlessly in my head perhaps just moments before. So I write and I write and I write and I write endeavoring to recollect the finely-tuned clarity of my dreams where I hope a story worth telling can be brought to the attention of readers in search of a decent tale.

But the truth is that it really takes stickability to see the whole process through from that first draft to the nirvana of publication.

I don't know about you, fellow writers, but I am never satisfied with what I write. And this morsel about the Four Courts Dublin is no exception. I am truly grateful for the time people have taken to read and even to make the additional effort in commenting on what I have written. It does lift my heart when I see that some thoughtful person has said something in response to my attempt at describing an event on a truly awful winter's day of nearly seven years ago in connection with the fairly mechanical operation of taking a photo - such comments really do 'add value' to my existence and I am buoyed up by it. Thank you. As an aside, I revised this article 19 (yes, you read correctly, nineteen) times before it became partly acceptable to me. More about this later. I agree entirely with the sentiments so ably expressed by Barbara in her recent article about plagiarism in which she goes on to describe the challenges experienced in writing. When reading this I said to myself, "That's exactly how I feel. Barbara has hit the nail on the head of the remorseless struggle when writing." If it reads well, then probably the author shed blood, sweat and tears in the creation. Other writers have talked openly and cogently about their battles to tease out the correct word, the well-formed sentence, the smooth-flowing paragraph and then the page that sits well within the tale being conjured up from the imagination. But the truth is that writing is a bit like a wrestling match with a sullen opponent who is of inexorable strength ready to cast aside your nebulous inspiration, your fragile dreams, your nervous first attempts at drafting those incomplete ideas on paper for the very first time. So easily our first endeavours into this magical and wonderful world of the creative can be thrown off course and wrecked on the needle-sharp rocks that represent the reality of our daily existence. English teacher admonitions about mixed metaphors come to mind all of a sudden - I can't imagine why! And the above reference to numerous revisions relates to how I try to put down my ideas on paper as it were - not always successfully I hasten to add - but here goes: often ideas for writing come to me visually, a bit like a film or video that plays out a single short episode - often with dialogue and varied angled views - or even a complete story unfolds in the realms of my filmic imagination and I rejoice in its fluency, the scintillating precision of the story as it clips along at a fair pace and I enjoy the 'ride' so much. Then I awake from my (day)dream and very quickly the finely-textured fabric of my story begins to unravel. As fast as I can, I begin to write, often in vain, attempting to recapture the excitement and magic of the story I had swirling around so effortlessly in my head perhaps just moments before. So I write and I write and I write and I write endeavoring to recollect the finely-tuned clarity of my dreams where I hope a story worth telling can be brought to the attention of readers in search of a decent tale. But the truth is that it really takes stickability to see the whole process through from that first draft to the nirvana of publication.
Ken Hartke on Wednesday, 09 November 2022 18:30

A great tribute to the city. St. Brendan is the patron saint of elderly adventurers, and he led me to Dublin by sea in my 70s and, in my mind, I have never left. As a photographer/poet I appreciate how powerful an image can be as a stimulus for writing. https://feralchats.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/approaching-dublin-coming-home/

A great tribute to the city. St. Brendan is the patron saint of elderly adventurers, and he led me to Dublin by sea in my 70s and, in my mind, I have never left. As a photographer/poet I appreciate how powerful an image can be as a stimulus for writing. https://feralchats.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/approaching-dublin-coming-home/
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 16 November 2022 13:57

Ken, thank you for sharing your wonderful poem which brings alive the concept of inherited memory and the sense of those who are gone being with us now. I had a similar experience visiting Eliot's East Coker, but I guess it's much more profound when a family's life has been rebuilt on a faraway Continent where cultures merge in a mist and, deep down, you know there's another place. Approaching Ireland by sea set you up for a richer experience.

Ken, thank you for sharing your wonderful poem which brings alive the concept of inherited memory and the sense of those who are gone being with us now. I had a similar experience visiting Eliot's East Coker, but I guess it's much more profound when a family's life has been rebuilt on a faraway Continent where cultures merge in a mist and, deep down, you know there's another place. Approaching Ireland by sea set you up for a richer experience.
Nicholas Mackey on Wednesday, 16 November 2022 14:57

I am touched that something I wrote six years ago has prompted comment towards the end of 2022 - many thanks to both Ken and Rosy. Ken: I love your poem and its narrative reflective style - thank you also for sharing it. This gave me an idea. Permit me to relate the following:

A Visit To Ireland In September 2018
As an expatriate Irishman now based in London who has lived out of Ireland since 1979, I have been back many times over the years but a trip completed in September 2018 to Counties Meath, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin with my wife and two close friends (also living in London) turned out to be an uplifting and moving experience.
Over the six days of our Irish visit, I especially wanted to explore in depth what Ireland is as a country, its people, history and culture and, of course, what it means to be Irish. It was not all serious of course as there was plenty of craic introduced at many opportunities enroute; thankfully we were blessed with the best of weather throughout.

I had devised an itinerary that started in Co. Meath with a visit to the Hill of Tara, exploring an ancient place with a history going back nearly 6,000 years. The Hill of Tara ranks high in the collective Irish memory where mythology, spirituality, power and the ceremonial have been part of the Celtic psyche for millennia. It can be easily reached from the nearby Jordanstown/Old Ross Road where the entrance is replete with well-presented, informative signage describing the archaeology, geography and the fabled symbolism of this hallowed site. As you walk over the windswept rolling hills of this place, you begin to imagine what sacred and powerful events must have occurred on this soil all those years ago.
For more detailed information, please see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Tara

Afterwards, we headed over to Trim (also in Co. Meath) and visited the magnificent Anglo-Norman castle there built by Hugh de Lacy in 1180. Our friends were captivated by the fact that the Normans had visited Ireland also after conquering England in 1066 but I pointed out that it was the beginning of a sad and bloody tale with the domination of Ireland by a certain foreign power. 752 years of colonial rule kicked off when two Irish high kings, locked in a local squabble for power way back in the 12th century CE, and one of them, a certain Dermot McMurrough inveigled King Henry II of England to send over an Anglo-Norman lord of Wales, Richard FitzGilbert, Earl of Pembroke (aka Strongbow) and a posse of soldiers to enable the aforesaid Dermot M. re-establish his position of power. Looked at from the perspective of the cold light of day, this episode of political shenanigans more than eight and a half centuries ago served as the progenitor of where one country came to be subservient to its nearest neighbour for three quarters of a millennium. But I digress.

After our Hill of Tara visit, we drove westwards through Westmeath, Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon in glorious sunshine and in the afternoon arrived at our destination: the Riverside Hotel in Sligo town where we had a marvellous view of the River Garavogue. We visited the Yeats Society Building in the heart of Sligo where some fascinating details and memorabilia associated with 'W.B.', (one of Ireland's literary Nobel Laureates), are on show to the public - a chat with the curator also proved to be entertaining and enlightening.

The following morning, in continuance of the focus on classical Ireland, we ventured out of Sligo town and climbed the hill of Knocknarea, an outcrop of limestone reaching 327 metres (1,072 feet) in height on a windy and showery morning. At the plateaued summit, we gazed in wonder at the high rocky cairn, legendary burial mound of Maeve, warrior queen of Connacht - Connacht being one of the five ancient provinces of Ireland: the others were Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Meath. From the top of Knocknarea, we also had a marvellous 360-degree panorama where it is said that six counties can be seen.
Later, we found ourselves at the seaside in Strandhill and ate at the incredible Shells restaurant on the sea front. My friends remarked how delicious the food was and the very high standard of service despite the place being packed. Even though this was only the second day of our visit, we noted the friendliness of everyone we met; the very good service we received in shops and cafés and that everywhere seemed so clean and tidy.

A further peep into Ireland's past was next on the cards so we visited Lissadell House and our inimitable guide, Leo, who was a tour-de-force character in not only beguiling us with an entertaining account of the house, the people associated with Lissadell such as the Gore-Booths, W.B. Yeats, et al., but Leo also gave us a fascinating albeit unorthodox, no-nonsense view of Irish history which held us in thrall, his delivery peppered with wicked humour.
It may interest you to know that my Scottish grandmother told me when she was a 'gel', that she had ridden on horseback with the Gore-Booth sisters, Eva and Constance in the grounds of Lissadell. But I digress again.

We pressed on to Galway and checked in for two nights at Flannery's Hotel. The following morning, fortified by a 'full Irish', we embarked on a tour of the city and the only negative experience of the entire trip was when I was scolded by an elderly Galwegian for taking pictures of boats in the harbour; to date I have no idea how innocently taking photos of an attractive local nautical scene could cause someone to become so exercised. Undeterred, we later drove out to Clifden in search of a well-known eatery renowned for its marine cuisine. But this is Ireland and we were not in a hurry so we detoured to Cong, just inside Co. Mayo and visited the charming town along with the ancient abbey. You will no doubt recall that Cong served as the backdrop for the film, "The Quiet Man" featuring Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne - both Hollywood stars with Irish roots.
On the road again via Clonbur and the enchanting Lough Nafooey (known as the lake of the winnowing winds – what an incredible name from the original Irish) where I regaled our small group about a geological field trip I had been on to the area more than 40 years previously as a Trinity College Dublin undergrad in Natural Sciences. I found myself reliving old memories and dreams and I felt this familiar haunting magic when the Celtic world re-enters my soul. We journeyed on past the incomparable Lough Mask, Killary Fjord, Finny, and stopped briefly at Kylemore Abbey where the afternoon sunshine danced on the waters of the lake enhancing the beauty of the place.
Happily our goal was achieved when we rolled into Clifden late that afternoon and as weary, famished travellers, we were treated to a veritable fish feast at Mitchell's Seafood Restaurant. Most memorable.

We returned to Galway city and headed out to the Latin Quarter which was pulsating with energy and people. Pretty soon we realised that there was music a-plenty on offer and we found ourselves in the famous musical watering hole called, Tigh Cóilí where a live band was playing some Irish tunes. The place was heaving but yet the people present made room for us with a smile and a cheery word as we were kindly given seats as we supped away on liquid refreshment savouring the atmosphere. The craic was stupendous.

We returned to our hotel around 11.30pm thinking we'd get the semblance of an early night but as we walked through the foyer it was obvious a hooley to the accompaniment of music was in full swing. We were invited to join the group, drinks magically appeared on the table where we sat and, from what we could gather, we had crashed a hen party with men and women present. We were welcomed into the fold, as it were, and the party carried on to the small hours in a very joyful fashion: life itself and the continuation of life were the joint foci of this celebration. A heart-warming way to end a wonderful day.
Or, if I think of it from a philosophical viewpoint, a most postive existential experience. Take your pick.
(To Be Continued)






I am touched that something I wrote six years ago has prompted comment towards the end of 2022 - many thanks to both Ken and Rosy. Ken: I love your poem and its narrative reflective style - thank you also for sharing it. This gave me an idea. Permit me to relate the following: A Visit To Ireland In September 2018 As an expatriate Irishman now based in London who has lived out of Ireland since 1979, I have been back many times over the years but a trip completed in September 2018 to Counties Meath, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin with my wife and two close friends (also living in London) turned out to be an uplifting and moving experience. Over the six days of our Irish visit, I especially wanted to explore in depth what Ireland is as a country, its people, history and culture and, of course, what it means to be Irish. It was not all serious of course as there was plenty of [i]craic[/i] introduced at many opportunities enroute; thankfully we were blessed with the best of weather throughout. I had devised an itinerary that started in Co. Meath with a visit to the Hill of Tara, exploring an ancient place with a history going back nearly 6,000 years. The Hill of Tara ranks high in the collective Irish memory where mythology, spirituality, power and the ceremonial have been part of the Celtic psyche for millennia. It can be easily reached from the nearby Jordanstown/Old Ross Road where the entrance is replete with well-presented, informative signage describing the archaeology, geography and the fabled symbolism of this hallowed site. As you walk over the windswept rolling hills of this place, you begin to imagine what sacred and powerful events must have occurred on this soil all those years ago. For more detailed information, please see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Tara Afterwards, we headed over to Trim (also in Co. Meath) and visited the magnificent Anglo-Norman castle there built by Hugh de Lacy in 1180. Our friends were captivated by the fact that the Normans had visited Ireland also after conquering England in 1066 but I pointed out that it was the beginning of a sad and bloody tale with the domination of Ireland by a certain foreign power. 752 years of colonial rule kicked off when two Irish high kings, locked in a local squabble for power way back in the 12th century CE, and one of them, a certain Dermot McMurrough inveigled King Henry II of England to send over an Anglo-Norman lord of Wales, Richard FitzGilbert, Earl of Pembroke (aka Strongbow) and a posse of soldiers to enable the aforesaid Dermot M. re-establish his position of power. Looked at from the perspective of the cold light of day, this episode of political shenanigans more than eight and a half centuries ago served as the progenitor of where one country came to be subservient to its nearest neighbour for three quarters of a millennium. But I digress. After our Hill of Tara visit, we drove westwards through Westmeath, Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon in glorious sunshine and in the afternoon arrived at our destination: the Riverside Hotel in Sligo town where we had a marvellous view of the River Garavogue. We visited the Yeats Society Building in the heart of Sligo where some fascinating details and memorabilia associated with 'W.B.', (one of Ireland's literary Nobel Laureates), are on show to the public - a chat with the curator also proved to be entertaining and enlightening. The following morning, in continuance of the focus on classical Ireland, we ventured out of Sligo town and climbed the hill of Knocknarea, an outcrop of limestone reaching 327 metres (1,072 feet) in height on a windy and showery morning. At the plateaued summit, we gazed in wonder at the high rocky cairn, legendary burial mound of Maeve, warrior queen of Connacht - Connacht being one of the five ancient provinces of Ireland: the others were Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Meath. From the top of Knocknarea, we also had a marvellous 360-degree panorama where it is said that six counties can be seen. Later, we found ourselves at the seaside in Strandhill and ate at the incredible Shells restaurant on the sea front. My friends remarked how delicious the food was and the very high standard of service despite the place being packed. Even though this was only the second day of our visit, we noted the friendliness of everyone we met; the very good service we received in shops and cafés and that everywhere seemed so clean and tidy. A further peep into Ireland's past was next on the cards so we visited Lissadell House and our inimitable guide, Leo, who was a tour-de-force character in not only beguiling us with an entertaining account of the house, the people associated with Lissadell such as the Gore-Booths, W.B. Yeats, et al., but Leo also gave us a fascinating albeit unorthodox, no-nonsense view of Irish history which held us in thrall, his delivery peppered with wicked humour. It may interest you to know that my Scottish grandmother told me when she was a 'gel', that she had ridden on horseback with the Gore-Booth sisters, Eva and Constance in the grounds of Lissadell. But I digress again. We pressed on to Galway and checked in for two nights at Flannery's Hotel. The following morning, fortified by a 'full Irish', we embarked on a tour of the city and the only negative experience of the entire trip was when I was scolded by an elderly Galwegian for taking pictures of boats in the harbour; to date I have no idea how innocently taking photos of an attractive local nautical scene could cause someone to become so exercised. Undeterred, we later drove out to Clifden in search of a well-known eatery renowned for its marine cuisine. But this is Ireland and we were not in a hurry so we detoured to Cong, just inside Co. Mayo and visited the charming town along with the ancient abbey. You will no doubt recall that Cong served as the backdrop for the film, "The Quiet Man" featuring Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne - both Hollywood stars with Irish roots. On the road again via Clonbur and the enchanting Lough Nafooey (known as the lake of the winnowing winds – what an incredible name from the original Irish) where I regaled our small group about a geological field trip I had been on to the area more than 40 years previously as a Trinity College Dublin undergrad in Natural Sciences. I found myself reliving old memories and dreams and I felt this familiar haunting magic when the Celtic world re-enters my soul. We journeyed on past the incomparable Lough Mask, Killary Fjord, Finny, and stopped briefly at Kylemore Abbey where the afternoon sunshine danced on the waters of the lake enhancing the beauty of the place. Happily our goal was achieved when we rolled into Clifden late that afternoon and as weary, famished travellers, we were treated to a veritable fish feast at Mitchell's Seafood Restaurant. Most memorable. We returned to Galway city and headed out to the Latin Quarter which was pulsating with energy and people. Pretty soon we realised that there was music a-plenty on offer and we found ourselves in the famous musical watering hole called, Tigh Cóilí where a live band was playing some Irish tunes. The place was heaving but yet the people present made room for us with a smile and a cheery word as we were kindly given seats as we supped away on liquid refreshment savouring the atmosphere. The craic was stupendous. We returned to our hotel around 11.30pm thinking we'd get the semblance of an early night but as we walked through the foyer it was obvious a hooley to the accompaniment of music was in full swing. We were invited to join the group, drinks magically appeared on the table where we sat and, from what we could gather, we had crashed a hen party with men and women present. We were welcomed into the fold, as it were, and the party carried on to the small hours in a very joyful fashion: life itself and the continuation of life were the joint foci of this celebration. A heart-warming way to end a wonderful day. Or, if I think of it from a philosophical viewpoint, a most postive existential experience. Take your pick. (To Be Continued)
Ken Hartke on Friday, 18 November 2022 20:27

Nicholas -- Thank you for the trip (so far). I long to go back as our stay was truncated by the pandemic. Not in time, we were there for three weeks, but by closures. We saw a different side of the place -- more personal. I think one must be a little more Irish than I am to keep a peat fire going. In Dublin we walked -- from Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park to St. Stephen's Green and most places in between. Even Trinity was closed to visitors. So, I will go back before too long.

Nicholas -- Thank you for the trip (so far). I long to go back as our stay was truncated by the pandemic. Not in time, we were there for three weeks, but by closures. We saw a different side of the place -- more personal. I think one must be a little more Irish than I am to keep a peat fire going. In Dublin we walked -- from Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park to St. Stephen's Green and most places in between. Even Trinity was closed to visitors. So, I will go back before too long.
Nicholas Mackey on Sunday, 20 November 2022 18:34

Ken: Thank you for your comment and I hope your 3-week trip to Ireland you have described was a good one. The Dublin walk you mention going from Phoenix Park, one of the largest public parks in Europe, all the way to Stephen's Green would have given you a fascinating view of the city centre. Your starting point from Phoenix Park would have been on the northern side of that momentous social divide, the River Liffey and (while still on the northern bank) perhaps you walked along the quays skirting the river and maybe you came across the imposing thoroughfare of O'Connell Street, named after a major Irish political figure of the 19th century, Daniel O'Connell. Crossing the Liffey would have taken you into the (supposedly) salubrious south side of the city. I'm sorry that my alma mater, Trinity College was closed to visitors on the day you were there. When you're next in Dublin, I urge you to pop into my old university - it's well worth the visit and a must is a visit to the Long Room and the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and Brian Boru's Harp. It may interest you to know that my late father was Research Librarian at Trinity and early on in his career in the 1940s as a junior academic, it was his job, among other things, to open/close the Long Room on a daily basis having in his possession a large bunch of bulbous keys that must have been originally made in the 18th century. Also, my father had to turn the (vellum) leaves of the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow on a regular basis availing of a special pair of white gloves. I recall him telling me that 'he sweated blood' in the early days of his career lest he lost the keys to the Long Room or damaged the beautifully-crafted pages of the Book of Kells.
As I'm sure you already know, the word 'Dublin' is an English derivation of the Irish 'Dubh Linn' (pronounced Duv Ling) with 'dubh' meaning black and 'linn' meaning pool; so, Dublin is the original Blackpool!
As a resident, I believe you are Ken, of New Mexico - my favourite state in the USA, by the way - I would be fascinated to learn of your impressions of Ireland, a small country on the north-western edge of Europe when compared to/contrasted with the vast open spaces of the western United States.
As it happens, I visited New Mexico with my family in 1990 and we were fortunate to see Albuquerque, Santa Fé, Truchas, Taos and Chama: a most memorable trip and before I go gaga, I'd love to go back to The Land of Enchantment. But, hey I've digressed yet again!
Hasta luego.

Ken: Thank you for your comment and I hope your 3-week trip to Ireland you have described was a good one. The Dublin walk you mention going from Phoenix Park, one of the largest public parks in Europe, all the way to Stephen's Green would have given you a fascinating view of the city centre. Your starting point from Phoenix Park would have been on the northern side of that momentous social divide, the River Liffey and (while still on the northern bank) perhaps you walked along the quays skirting the river and maybe you came across the imposing thoroughfare of O'Connell Street, named after a major Irish political figure of the 19th century, Daniel O'Connell. Crossing the Liffey would have taken you into the (supposedly) salubrious south side of the city. I'm sorry that my alma mater, Trinity College was closed to visitors on the day you were there. When you're next in Dublin, I urge you to pop into my old university - it's well worth the visit and a must is a visit to the Long Room and the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and Brian Boru's Harp. It may interest you to know that my late father was Research Librarian at Trinity and early on in his career in the 1940s as a junior academic, it was his job, among other things, to open/close the Long Room on a daily basis having in his possession a large bunch of bulbous keys that must have been originally made in the 18th century. Also, my father had to turn the (vellum) leaves of the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow on a regular basis availing of a special pair of white gloves. I recall him telling me that 'he sweated blood' in the early days of his career lest he lost the keys to the Long Room or damaged the beautifully-crafted pages of the Book of Kells. As I'm sure you already know, the word 'Dublin' is an English derivation of the Irish 'Dubh Linn' (pronounced Duv Ling) with 'dubh' meaning black and 'linn' meaning pool; so, Dublin is the original Blackpool! As a resident, I believe you are Ken, of New Mexico - my favourite state in the USA, by the way - I would be fascinated to learn of your impressions of Ireland, a small country on the north-western edge of Europe when compared to/contrasted with the vast open spaces of the western United States. As it happens, I visited New Mexico with my family in 1990 and we were fortunate to see Albuquerque, Santa Fé, Truchas, Taos and Chama: a most memorable trip and before I go gaga, I'd love to go back to The Land of Enchantment. But, hey I've digressed yet again! Hasta luego.
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