I’m in Portumna, Galway, Ireland. I’m on a self-imposed writing retreat. I had decided to move on from Buenos Aires since my tourist visa was up and I didn’t feel like doing the Colonia, Uruguay renewal trip. Mostly because I miss my family, so I headed back to Europe to see my daughter in Spain. But first, Ireland!
I spent three nights in Dublin. It had been raining when I arrived, which I don’t mind because 38 years in dry Colorado makes me yearn for the moisture. I love walking in the rain. The sun came out for me to walk down O’Connell Street, cross the O’Connell Bridge where a man asked me if I knew the directions to the methadone clinic. I visited Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells exhibit, and before making your way to the old library features my favorite quote from Jorge Luis Borges: “I imagine paradise will be a kind of library.” Yes, it is! Aparantly Bram Stroker attended Trinity College and Dublin inspired his Dracula. You can follow his footsteps on a literary self-tour of his influences too.
Making my way through the glorious St. Stephans Green, the lovely respite from the city showed its fall colors and peaceful calm, including the James Joyce bust. I found that the Museum of Literature, Ireland was a splendid stop to begin following Dublin’s literary trail. I learned about James Joyce and more Irish giants of literature, as well as the oral storytelling tradition made great by Peig Sayers.
I loved the interactive installation of words spoken and projected onto a wall when standing under one of four areas. I picked up Edna O’Brien’s James and Nora: A Portrait of a Marriage in the bookstore and am loving the essay’s poetic prose. The museum is just across the street from St. Stephans Green, and exiting the museum empties you out to Iveagh Gardens.
The Dublin’s Writer’s Museum was sadly closed indefinitely, and the James Joyce Centre was also closed that day I chose for some reason. It offers walking tours of Joyce’s Dublin, but you can do your own Ulysses tour in a day. One evening I walked to the Teacher’s Club in Parnell Square West just past the Garden of Remembrance for a book launch of haibun, A Kiss by Gerry Mc Donnell, published by UK’s Alba Publishing. It was lovely historic to connect with haiku, haibun and poetry lovers. Published in Ireland, The Haibun Journal’s Sean O’Connor gave an introduction and discussed haiku and haibun. He teaches online Haibun workshops with the Irish Writer’s Centre. His book, Fragmentations, won the Haiku Society of America’s Merit Award for Best Haibun Book published in 2021.
Indian curry is everywhere about here. Heaven! Since there was little in S. America. I ate twice at Mini India on Westmoreland Street. It’s a grocery store and offers delicious Indian street food for cheap. I ate at another Indian place, but the curry dishes didn’t include free rice because of inflation. And inflation is biting here, as are other social issues. I enjoy being a witness to history.
The political mess in the UK reverberates here, and Ukrainian refugees are put up in 1/4 of Irish hotels, making an already scarce housing scene more dire. Some people are angry about it, posting the hashtags #Irelandisfull. Ukranian refugees are skeptical about being housed in the countryside, worried about isolation. I can understand.
At St. Patrick’s Cathedral I paid homage to Johnathan Swift, author of one of my first childhood novels I read, Gulliver’s Travels. He was a great champion for social causes using his quill, and at the cathedral there was a display to write a note for those we know affected by war. I wrote one to my father who as a WWII child refugee taught me well the horrors affecting Ukranians now. The splendid church’s stained glass and beauty emanated calm and peace. I stopped in Christ Church also for some quiet inspiration and a dose of history.
That’s it for Dublin. Will write about some of the eateries in another post. I find it easier to write about things later. I can’t keep up with the Instagram, instant, live on your phone your whole life. It drives me mad! I’ve so much to say, but it will come in it’s own time. that’s what this writing retreat is all about. I’m staring at the Portumna forest as it’s yellow fall colors start to show and clouds come in. The stars were out heavy last night. It’s a beautiful life.