Wednesday, August 11, 2022
This morning was devoted to packing, as we are moving to another hotel tonight, in southwest Dublin, near the Tallaght Stadium. Yes, we’re going to another game tonight, more about that later. We stored our bags with Nannybag Storage, and headed in different directions to take care of some last minute touring and/or shopping.
Sean went to Croke Park, where he took the stadium tour and visited the museum. The tour was about 90 minutes long, and exceeded his expectations.
I had seen a beautiful linen table runner at the National Museum of Ireland, and decided that it needed to go home with me.
On the way, I walked through St. Stephen’s Green, a public park, located in the center of Dublin. Prior to 1663, this was a marshy common, of about 60 acres, used for grazing. The Dublin Corporation (former name of the city government) decided to enclose the center of the common (about 22 acres), and sell land around the perimeter for building. Control of the Green passed to Commissioners for the local homeowners, who redesigned its layout. Access to the park was restricted to local residents until 1877, when Parliament passed an Act to open it to the public.
St. Stephen’s Green played a role in the Easter Rising of 1916, when a group (200-250) of rebels established a position in the park. They used confiscated vehicles to set up roadblocks in the streets that surround the park, and they dug defensive positions in the park. Unfortunately for them, the British Army took up positions in a hotel across from the Green, and used that vantage point to shoot down into the entrenchments.
It’s a beautiful park, and many people were enjoying on this equally beautiful day. I saw at least one teacher conducting a class there. In one section of the park is a garden for the blind with scented plants, labelled in braille and strong enough to withstand holding and feeling. There is a large lake, fed by an artificial waterfall, and home to many ducks and other waterfowl. It was a lovely place to sit and enjoy my iced coffee and lunch.
The park is located by Grafton Street, the major shopping area in Dublin, another place for me to explore today. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, was just across the street from the park. It feels almost festive. The panes of glass that make up the roof let in so much sun that you almost feel like you are outside. The arched openings around the atrium frame the many shops, helping to give each one its own identity. At one end of the atrium is the largest indoor clock in Europe.
Tonight we attended a soccer game at Tallaght Stadium, the third qualifying round in the Europa Conference League, which is an annual football (soccer) club competition for eligible European clubs. The clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues.
St. Patrick’s Athletic was pitted against CSKA Sofia in tonight’s game. St. Patrick’s came to the game one point ahead, but CSKA was able to defeat them by two points tonight, so moves forward to the playoff qualifying round. It was a heated game, with some questionable calls by the referees. We were sitting not far from the CSKA fan section, which was extremely vocal. There was quite a lineup of security in front of them, probably a good thing, since some of them looked like they wouldn’t hesitate to jump onto the field and cause a fight.
Anyway, another fast paced game, with lots of passion on both sides.
Tomorrow, Sean catches a ferry to Wales to continue his trip. I head back home. It’s been a really good trip. Sean is interested in everything, very open to learning about how other cultures live and operate. He makes an excellent traveling companion. Plus, he’s been reviewing my posts, adding and/or correcting my comments in a constructive manner. Thanks, Sean.
I close with some impressions of Ireland. It continues to be one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited so far, with impossibly green fields, gorgeous lakes and rivers. The climate is mild, due to the tempering effect of the ocean.
The Irish are among the friendliest people I’ve had the pleasure to interact with, quick with a smile, a compliment, a story. Many people helped us along the way, answering our questions, offering suggestions for pubs and restaurants, games that Sean might be interested in. Tipping is not expected in Ireland, in fact, one night when Sean told the bartender to “keep the change,” he was told that many consider that to be offensive. They don’t expect to be paid extra just for doing their jobs. They also don’t fawn over the customer, shilling for tips; they serve us and get out of our way. I like that. Of course, waiters and bartenders are paid decent wages, unlike in the US.
Some parts of the country have changed due to tourism. You can find tourist traps in many of the popular towns and villages, as well as in the bigger cities. That was a disappointment to me. I wasn’t looking for trinkets to take home, things I could find anywhere. I was looking for items that I can only get there, and they were harder to find.
The country works hard to preserve its culture and its history. The Irish continue to excel at story telling. I think most of them have kissed the Blarney Stone several times. Gaelic sports are a big part of their culture and identity, helping to tie communities together. Unlike our professional sports at home, these games seem genuine, and the fans are truly engaged without getting angry or violent.
It’s a place where I felt at home.