Dublin, that first day, was a disorienting, noisy, busy din of people, cars, yellow double-decker buses, bicycles, buskers, and smokers standing on the pavement outside the front door of pubs. Our hotel was along the Grand Canal, a good 15 or 20 minute walk from the city center, and I despaired that we were ever going to be able to get anywhere in an efficient amount of time and without getting lost.
We dumped our luggage (our room wasn't yet ready) and headed out, trying to get our bearings. I couldn't figure out where the river was. We found St. Patrick's Cathedral but Christchurch didn't appear to be where I thought it was supposed to be. Everything was wrong, out of whack, congested, confusing.
Why, oh why, had we left the peaceful Wicklow Mountains?
The unsettled feeling did not last. We love Dublin, and we quickly figured out the best ways to get to the city center (we now love Baggott Street), we made it to Grafton Street (and spent an hour in a bookstore, where I found an unexpected delight: a last, new book from Nuala O'Faolain, who died last year), and that evening we got dressed up and went to the theater.
We walked all the way, from the Grand Canal to the Gate Theater on Upper O'Connell Street on the other side of the Liffey. It was a lovely early-evening walk, the sun low, the wind whipping the litter and dust into little explosions in the air. By now the throngs were interesting instead of annoying, and I was eager to explore the city again.
We had given ourselves plenty of time and arrived at the Gate 45 minutes before the show. In the lobby, two serene women were setting out rows and rows of lovely flowered china teacups along the bar. There was a second bar one flight below, selling beer and wine, but a cup of tea seemed just the thing, and I sat in a little velvet-cushioned nook in the grand lobby and sipped from the delicate cup.
We were there to see "All My Sons," an Arthur Miller play set in the American Midwest. It was charming to hear the Irish actors affecting American accents--they did well, for the most part, except for always greeting each other with an Irish "hiya" instead of an American "hi."
The play was Miller--that is, devastating, and after the final BANG! I started to cry. The audience rose in an ovation, everyone but me, sitting foolishly in my second-row seat, sobbing and groping around for a kleenex. I am such a sap.
We had planned on walking back to the Grand Canal, but it was dark and windy and there was an appealing row of bright, warm-looking cabs lined up along O'Connell Street, so we hopped into one and the chatty, friendly cabbie told us all about Trinity College's ball (which was that evening) and how every year one of the eejits vomits in his cab and how in the morning when we're out and about we're almost sure to see young men in tuxedos, still lurching about, drunk from the night before, and before we knew it he was pulling up outside our hotel and we were home.
4 hours ago