Tea at the Merrion Hotel

photoIt’s been a good and full day! I arrived in Ireland yesterday — flew into Shannon Airport (my favorite old haunt from my Fulbright year living in nearby Limerick), took a taxi to the Colbert Station in the Limerick City Centre, and then hopped on a Bus Éireann bus to Dublin — a 4 1/2 hour trip. The bus was nearly 1/5th the cost of the train, and it was lovely, actually, to wind slowly through the towns and villages along the way, reacquainting me with some of my favorite little villages and landscapes — the pretty twin towns of Killaloe (a beautiful restaurant, The Wooden Spoon) and Ballina, and the gorgeous Lough Derg separating them. I got off at Heuston Station in Dublin (a beautiful station, built in 1846), and took a taxi to the hotel on Parnell Square. I walked the area and did some scouting and paperwork, worked to get my wireless up and running, and rested a bit.

This morning (well rested), I was up early and had a delicious Irish brekkie (oh, the rashers!) before I headed out. I walked to the Busáras, the central train station in Dublin, to scout out how long it would take to walk there from our hotel and how much the tickets to Belfast would cost. Then, I walked past the beautiful Custom House, and across the Liffey to Merrion Square (the heart of Georgian Dublin) — for some lovely wee scones with cream and jam, and tea and a read of the Irish Times. Then, across the street to the National Gallery, one of my favorite galleries (with a lovely bookshop and cafe; although their inventory, like that of many places, has been greatly reduced). The new exhibition, From the Archives: The Story of the National Gallery of Ireland, was exquisite — over 100 items from the NGI Archives, Library and Print Room collections, featuring historical records, registers, publications, photographs, correspondence and architectural plans that are an integral part of the history of this gallery.

Next, I headed to the Grafton Street shopping area off of St. Stephen’s Green and picked up an Irish SIM card for my university international mobile and purchased some LEAP bus passes for all of us. Mostly, we’ll be walking — but there are a few places where we’ll take the bus/DART/LUAS. I’m excited for my Honors students to arrive — they’ll be here on Sunday. I have welcome packets ready for them at the desk in the lobby, and we’ll have dinner together after everyone arrives — something cheap and cheerful! Tomorrow, I’ll pick up tickets at the nearby Gate Theatre for Oscar Wilde’s play, An Ideal Husband — an 1895 melodrama. It will be a fabulous opportunity for students to engage with the Wilde wit and Irish culture of a certain era.

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