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Parrot Knight in Dublin

November 13th, 2004 (11:36 pm)
current music: BBC Radio 2, The Bob Harris Show

The summary would be a battle with ill health that for the most part remained threatening rather than incapacitating. I flew out to Dublin on Monday feeling as bad as my post on the morning indicated, but got by through that day. Dublin itself reminds me of St Petersburg; it's based around a river with quays on either side, although in St Petersburg the river is much wider and the north side of the river is broken up by islands.

We didn't have very much time to see the city. I walked from the hotel, on the south side of the river on the fringes of the Temple Bar district, to the venue for the launch event. This path took me past the back of the Stephen's Green shopping centre, and past the corner of Stephen's Green itself, past the Gaiety Theatre, and up Grafton Street. Most of the shops were familiar from British high streets, though there were more small grocers and newsagents among them. I bought a bottle of water (a necessity this week as I felt dehydrated most of the time) and a chocolate bar at a Spar. The chocolate was a Cadbury's Fruit and Nut and chocolate aficionados might like to know that in the Republic of Ireland there is a different Cadbury's range to that in the UK; there may have been differences in the Mars and Nestle ranges as well but they were less remarkable. The bars are more square and are still wrapped in foil, whereas Laura Palmer has become the role model for UK Cadbury's chocolate. I regretted that I didn't have time to buy a coffee in Bewley's; my regret grew on Wednesday when I read news that the famous coffee shop will be closing at the end of this month. Once across the river I also passed the Abbey and Peacock Theatres, largely shrouded in canvas and scaffolding while a major refurbishment takes place.

I was able to explore some more on Tuesday morning, before taking the train up to Belfast, and came across Powerscourt House, the former town house of the Wingfield family, headed by Viscount Powerscourt, remarkable for its dramatic baroque facade. In the early 1980s it was converted into a shopping centre; sadly I didn't have time to go inside and see how the transformation works. It's very near St Andrew's Church, another conversion, as the church is now a tourist information centre.

TGW's new editor, Deboss, takes his camera with him everywhere, and on Tuesday morning braved the traffic of O'Connell Street to take a picture of Daniel O'Connell, one of his heroes. I remarked in the taxi on the way to the station that a lot of bloodshed could have been avoided if O'Connell's demands had been acceeded to by the British government in the 1830s or 1840s.

We travelled first class on the Enterprise, the name given to the joint Ianrod Eireann/Northern Ireland Railways service from Dublin to Belfast. This was a comfortable service, with complementary orange juice, copies of The Irish Times for anyone who wanted them, and a good menu; Deboss had a late breakfast, and I almost wished I'd not had breakfast at the hotel. The train progressed steadily up the east coast, sometimes apparently ploughing into the sea as it crossed bays on what seemed to be low causeways. Some remarkably small villages were served by the Dublin commuter trains. One had to be paying close attention to notice the border. I was alerted by the northern end of the roadworks for the Dundalk western by-pass. Soon after the font on the signs alongside the railway changed slightly, and a little later I saw some British army watchtowers on hilltops. There had been a couple of instances of IRA graffiti on bridges but once at Newry the battle between loyalist and republican graffiti began in earnest.

More later...


Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: November 14th, 2004 04:22 am (UTC)

I read this at 3am and became confused about what Daniel O'Donnell was doing standing in O'Connell Street, is all I'm saying.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: November 14th, 2004 10:41 am (UTC)

I dread to think what this says about your unconscious musical taste. :)

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: November 14th, 2004 10:49 am (UTC)

No, implier of abominations, this merely bespeaks professional exposure to the Irish media.

Posted by: foradan (foradan)
Posted at: November 15th, 2004 03:11 am (UTC)
Powerscourt Town House

It is rather strange inside. It is a nice shopping centre, as it doesn't look quite like your average one. But as with normal ones, the centre of the building has been hollowed out somewhat with balconies and shops around the edges. But the staircases are at least in the style of the orginal ones, and possibly the original ones themselves.