In the early morning hours of May 12, 1916, James Connolly, revolutionary, socialist, union organizer, signatory to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and Commandant-General of the Dublin Division of the Army of the Irish Republic was taken by stretcher to the courtyard of Kilmainham Gaol, strapped into a wooden chair, and shot by a British Army firing squad. Connolly had been so badly injured from the fighting during the Rising that he was unable to stand.
‘’Apostles of Freedom are ever idolized when dead, but crucified when living’’
Irish flag in the rock breaking yard at Kilmainham Gaol.
The green of the flag represents the republican, independence seeking Irish, and the orange represents the unionists, those wishing to stay a part of Great Britain. The white, dividing the two, is meant to represent peace between the two sides that have so bitterly fought over the generations.
This is the prison where many of the political prisoners were held during the British occupation years. It is also the prison which was used to film the original ‘Italian Job’ and 'In The Name Of The Father’, amongst others.
So Honza and I spent a lovely four days in Dublin, Ireland with our good friend Rebecca, who Honza likes to call Rubes. (I kind of like it too.)
Honza and Rubes together in Phoenix Park, which is lovely. I was amazed to see FALL (and of course, lots of green) colors in February! But totally down with it.
We flew in Friday–it should have been Friday morning but Aer Lingus/Poopnuggets rescheduled it for night on a mysterious tiny airline called Monarch since they were on strike–and Rebecca kindly had aloo gobi waiting for us at her charming West Liffey flat. The Liffey, by the way, is the river. I felt ignorant not knowing its name, but now I can feel intellectually superior. Mwahaha.
On our first day we walked around and went to Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed park in Europe. See above picture. Honza made aggressive noises towards the swans. Then we went into the center of town and saw Trinity College, where Rebecca did her masters program, and paid a rather ridiculous sum of money to see only a few pages of the Book of Kells:
if you don’t know what it is, look it up on Wikipedia. It’s amazing. I wish we could have seen more, but oh well. We also saw the Long Room of Trinity College:
very Beauty and the Beast, don’t you think? And quite awesome. They had a random exhibit about Ireland in the 1600s, which was, as one might assume given Irish history, a turbulent time.
Then we went to Queen of Tarts, where Honza had his first scone, and walked around Temple Bar and ate dinner at a Hare Krishna place. We met up with Rebecca’s coworkers at Bowes pub and I had a Kopparberg cider. Unfortunately, the two branches of the Waterstone’s bookstore of Dublin had abruptly closed, and all of Rebecca’s coworkers were now out of jobs, which is quite terrible–given the economic situation, it may have happened in August when the lease went up, but it was quite a shock for it to happen in February. I hope things resolve well for all her coworkers.
The next day we went to Kilmainham Gaol. Jail for all you Americans out there.
Rubes and Honza being silly before the somberness. We had a great tour guide, Micheal, who led us through the jail and gave us the intense, colorful and crazy history of the jail, which is famous for housing many Irish rebel prisoners and is also the site where quite a few of them were shot. They used to have public hangings here and imprisoned people as young as five. Anne Devlin was kept here- she has quite an amazing story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Devlin
All in all, a totally worthwhile experience. We learned a lot about Irish history and seeing the jail is fascinating. They also have a great museum there. That night we went to Waterstone’s as it was the last day of the shop being open, and Honza and I cooked pad thai for dinner. Nom.
The next day it was off to Howth, a small fishing village referenced in Joyce’s Ulysses. There was even a battle fought there in the 1920s. It is home to St. Mary’s Abbey, which was built in the 1000’s, and is a nice combo of history, picturesque scenery and hikes, pubs, and fishing.
We had nice Guinnesses in a cozy pub there and a pleasant walk. Totally a fan of Howth. This was capped off with a dinner at IFI and another pint (because that’s what you do in the Emerald Isle) at SinE’s. Sadly, they are closing as well, because the rent is too high.
For our last morning we went to Dublin Castle to see the Chester Beatty Library.
They had a special exhibit on the Book of Shahnara illustrated manuscripts. INCREDIBLE. Then Chester Beatty, who apparently had immaculate taste, collected some of the world’s oldest and most important documents from world religions. It’s just a spectacular collection. And it’s FREE. Ridiculous! The cafe serves food from regions featured in his collection, so we had lentil soup. Then, sadly, Honza and I had to say our goodbyes. I’ll have to return sometime in the very very near future, I have decided.
I am also trying to attempt a career in freelance English paper editing here. I’ll keep you posted.