Saturday, 13 May 2006

Dublin Diary

It had been more than 5 months since my last visit to Dublin so it was long overdue. I can never go for long without seeing the city, or feeling the excitement of it. At times that can be quite palpable, and it doesn't necessarily have to do with what is actually happening there, but more to do with what you know has happened there in its rich past. To me it has always been a very exciting place: romantic; bustling; defiant; colourful; at times and in parts, poor... and at others wealthy and prosperous - but always rich with spirit.

I have seen Dublin change in great, undulous waves over the last 15 years since I have been going. I first went in 1991 and that year it was chosen as the European City Of Culture. It would be romantic to think that it was that that started its recent changes, because since then, to me the skyline has altered considerably. And it would also be romantic and lovely to think that all those changes have been for the better. But, for me, somehow the heart is going, and the real truth is that this kind of thing has been happening since way back in the 60s and before. Today, two and three storey, red-brick works of art along the quays are being replaced with vast glass and metal monstrosities, ready to house corporations full of people with money; and with similar vast glass and metal creations to house the same people and also the world's rich who will flock - as people have a wont to do - towards the waterside of the cosmopolitan city that Dublin is becoming. Like it or not.

Incidentally, U2's own wonderful office building on Sir John Rogerson Quay (named after the elected mayor of Dublin of 1693) used to be a banana warehouse and has keystones on it that were originally part of the first O'Connell (then called Carlisle) Bridge across the Liffey up in the centre of town. Who knows how long this building will itself last, because now it stands dwarfed and sad-looking between the metal jaws of corporate monsters. Right next door to Principle is a multi-storey containing the headquarters of a large mobile phone company. Ironically, it is U2 next door to O2!! You couldn't make that up..... as the song goes.... My cell is ringing, no ID, I need to know who's calling... Well, now Bono will know!

Anyway, all that aside, Sue and I arrived into a Dublin that was overcast, but which blossomed into sunshine later in the evening. Our house, right next to the beautiful Clontarf Castle Hotel, was in a really nice, quiet place, part of a secure, gated complex.

After meeting the owner, we spent our first day settling into the house and the surrounding area. With the promise of an advancing summer, the place was lush and green and there were many flowers in bloom (which I don't know the names of, but that Sue knows many, being a keen gardener). This really was a pretty setting, with the turrets of the old Clontarf Castle in view above the rooftops.

Wanting to try out the food at the hotel, we paid it a visit, only to be told that our timing was off and they were not serving yet. Oh well, plenty of time for that! We ended up having a snack bought from a Spar, and then a nap for a couple of hours, after which we jumped in the car to find a Tesco to stock up on the week's provisions. We forgot to take the map, but did rather well navigating about. By this time, the sun was belting down and this was the theme of most of the days to come.

Fish and chips for tea (from Beshoffs, who also sold ice cream!) and then we settled down for some wine and an early night. Dianne was due in tomorrow and we were to pick her up from the airport.