Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Final Countdown

While Al spent the final Friday taking a guided tour of Bru na Boinne and the Boyne Valley, I spent it catching up with family. I know I've said this before but I have a lot of family in Ireland. I could have spent the entire three weeks just seeing family and I probably still would have missed someone. Still, I'll take as many family meet-ups as I can get especially now that some of my cousins have kids and they say adorable things like "hi-ya!" when I walk through the door. Seriously, nothing cuter than a 19 month old with a Dub accent saying 'hi-ya'!

Saturday was run-around-buy-souvenirs-take-pictures day. Despite some very nasty rain clouds hanging about, we lucked out and managed to stay dry for our final day. It was a welcome change to the weather we had been having. We started the day by wandering O'Connell St on the north side of the Liffey. The street is named after Daniel O'Connell so it's only best that he stands prominently at the south end.

I think Ireland personified is telling you who to complain to if you have a problem.
It's that man, up there, above her. Complain to him!

O'Connell St is probably best known for being the location of the General Post Office (GPO).

The pillars are still pockmarked from the 1916 Rising. History nerd here finds that kinda cool!

The GPO acted as the headquarters during the Easter Rising of 1916. In the early hours of Monday, April 24th, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Civilian Army, and the Irish Volunteers seized various buildings around Dublin* (most of which they felt were signs of British oppression), after which Padraig Pearse read out the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from the GPO where two rebels flags had replaced the Union Jack.

After six days of fighting, the inside of the GPO was almost completely destroyed and the men stationed there, including five of the signatories on the proclamation, surrendered unconditionally to British troops. It would be another 24 hours before the rising was completely put down. The leaders were taken to Kilmainham Gaol, found guilty of treason and executed.

One of the things I love most about the Irish is their wit. If you put up a monument to anything, they'll have a nickname for it before the paint is dry. The prick with the stick, the hags with the bags, and the fluzzie in the jacuzzi are all nicknames Dubs have giving to various statues around town. My personal favourite is the the tart with cart, better known as Molly Malone.

Just one nickname won't do. Molly's also known as the flirt with the skirt,
the dish with the fish, and a couple of other nicknames as well.

For the first time in a long while, I had new nicknames to learn thanks to this guy:

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the stiletto in the ghetto, the stiffy by the Liffey, the nail in the Pale, the erection at the intersection, the, well, that's probably enough. The official name has something to do with light... I don't know, I didn't actually pay attention to that part, I just wanted to hear the nicknames! It seemed like everyone I talked to had another one to add to the list. Oh Dublin, I hope you never change.

Try as I might, I couldn't get all my family visits over and done before the Saturday night. We had to be up at 5:00am and a night out wasn't really what I wanted. Still, sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles. I had missed meeting up with my uncle in Armagh so he was coming down** to see me on my last night. There's not way to excuse yourself from that, is there?

Al and I had dinner with uncles Lorcan and Kevin and aunt Betty before doing a night time tour of Dalkey. The tour was part of a "let's see who's home" (answer: no one) which then turned into a "Bono lives there, Enya lives there, Neil Jordan lives there, Van Morrison lives there" drive. Of course, we had to stop at the beach by the Canadian ambassador's house and take a picture. That's just the patriotic thing to do!

Oh flash, why do you wash us out so?

Our evening ended with a drive up into the Wicklow Mts. I was sad that I never made it to the area during the day because it really is lovely but these things happen sometimes. We started the night at Johnny Fox's and all it's "traditional pub" touristy glory (although the stuff on the walls does make me laugh) before we moved onto The Blue Light. If you can get to it, definitely check out the Blue Light. Live music, amazing views over Dublin, friendly patrons, and incredibly relaxed. My kind of pub!

This is just proof that I can't take my uncles anywhere!
Look at all the Guinness Kevin wasted!

As much as I had hoped to avoid a Saturday night send off, I couldn't think of a better way to say good bye to Ireland. We told stories, made jokes, laughed until we cried, sang songs, and reminisced. The end of the night came too soon. We rounded ourselves up and headed out to the car. The next day, Al and I would be up before sunrise; we'd pass through Dublin in the dark and half asleep; we'd watch the sun come up as we ate breakfast on the top level of the airport; and we'd watch Ireland slip beneath the plane as we flew to Amsterdam, but our last real memory of Dublin was on that Saturday night.

*It should be noted that they were not successful in capturing all the buildings they went after.

**I wrote that he was coming 'down' because geographically looking at a map, Armagh is north of Dublin, hence, down. If you are ever in Ireland, it is important to know that everything is down from Dublin. We're going down to Donegal for the weekend. We're going down to Monaghan for the night. We're going down to Mayo in a fortnight. You do 'go up to the North' but if you're specifying where in the north, then it's down again. We're going down to Derry next week. Obviously, if everywhere is 'down' from Dublin, then everyone else comes up to Dublin for a visit so when I was talking with my uncle on the phone, he said that he was coming up to Dublin. I giggled because that will never stop being funny to me.


Erika said...

Thanks for sharing your memories with us! I've enjoyed the anecdotes and photos.

AndreaClaire said...

Thanks E! We need to do a holiday coffee soon :)