Ireland: Day 5 & 6 (Dublin)

Wednesday was a pretty calm day.  We walked over to Portobello bridge and along the canal, then through town and found a great local butcher- picked up some groceries for the day, wandered past St Patrick’s Cathedral (where Jonathan Swift is buried, and was Dean of the cathedral for 32 years).  As we left the cathedral grounds, we passed a sweet fairy garden! 

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Then we headed back to the studio flat, ready to shut ourselves in for the rest of the day.  It was great to be on vacation and rest! TV, eating in bed (super easy to do in a studio!) and having nowhere to be was just what we needed.

Thursday, we were well rested and ready for some more adventure, and we really packed it in today!  First stop: Iveagh park, which was gorgeous in the late morning sun. It was designed in 1865, and conservation efforts began in 1995.  The Iveagh Gardens website  says that it is ‘popularly known as Dublin’s “Secret Garden”,’ and for good reason.  After a meander through the rose garden and past the fountains,  we watched the shadows of fluffy clouds passing over the lush grass.  With the high brick walls in parts of the garden, it gave the sense of having snuck in somewhere we weren’t supposed to be!

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Next, we took a slow wander through Saint Stephen’s Green Park, the site of the 1916 uprising.  It is a sprawling Victorian park in the middle of the city, and is one of those amazing parks that allows you to feel almost like you’re in the wilderness, only a few feet in from the sidewalk.  It’s grounds provide more than 3km of paths, dotted with sculptures, statues, and memorial plaques acknowledging the important role of the park during the uprising.  The bandstand, which still stands today, was used as a nursing station, and in a corner of the park stands a quaint brick home that still shows some of the damage from when it was riddled with bullets.  

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Our big splurge today was the Viking Splash tour, which took us through the city and into the grand canal.  It was a fun way to see the city- and bonus: you get to see T and I in “viking” hats! Haha!

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After the tour, we were hungry and popped into O’Donaghue’s pub for a traditional stew alongside a Guinness for T.  Sadly, it was nothing special.  To be fair, how could anything compare with the Irish Stew we had in Clifden on the Best. Day. Ever. (aka Ireland: Day 2)?

The weather was great and it was still early, allowing plenty of time to tour the National gallery.

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We were completely stunned at the unique offerings of each country and city as we continue to visit National galleries (having also been to art galleries now in London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Scotland).  There is always something special (usually several somethings) that make it worthwhile! A few favourites:

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Bachelor’s Walk, In Memory (Jack B. Yeates, 1915) This was the first painting that grabbed my attention. Then I saw that it was inspired by the return of soldiers from the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, which my Great Great Grandfather was part of. 

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The Song of the Mad Prince (Harry Clarke, 1917) So much stained glass! This pieces features the prince, standing in front of his mother and father. The artist was experimenting with etching and plating together two double pieces of glass of different colours. It’s definitely something to be seen in person to appreciate the detail, and there are several examples of this style of work in the gallery. It’s quite mesmerizing to look at up close, as the layered details reveal themselves.

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Trompe L’Oeil (Strickland Lowry, after 1775) These were fascinating to T and I because they look SO modern, as if they are printed photos made to look old, and mounted on wood. We were stunned to see that they are more than 200 years old, and painted on canvas!

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Ebony Cabinet (Frans Francken II and Studio, 1630s) This stunning Flemish cabinet is adorned with silver, and decorated with ten paintings (the two large paintings on the doors are said to be of greatest importance as Francken painted and signed them himself). It is said to have been a marriage gift from Oliver Cromwell to his daughter Bridget, on the occasion of her second marriage.

In the late afternoon, we went back to the flat for a rest, and then headed back out to try a new local vegan place: Veginity. We tried their mushroom and gnocchi dish, which had a creative blend of flavour and texture but left us feeling as though we hadn’t eaten.

Solution: Round 2 at Viva tapas. We had a sweet and rich chorizo dish, potatoes with meatballs, and a warm potato salad. The restaurant had a lovely ambience, and our table had a small rectangular red lamp which reminded me of my Grammer & Grandpa Murdoch’s red silk caravan lamp. The server was joyful and attentive; it was a great experience. And best of all- directly across the street from us, so walking back with full tummies was easy 🙂

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