“You Are Here”: Dublin

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On Friday evening we flew to Dublin from nearby London Luton airport for a weekend visit with Irish friends. We returned to that British airport that makes New York’s LaGuardia look like a travel dream Luton early Monday morning. I’ve known those friends for some 20 years, and my wife for longer even than that…

[“You are here.” In Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017.]

On Saturday we had a stroll through the city’s famous Botanic Gardens with that husband and wife and their 12 year old daughter. We’ve been to it many times before. Every visit is different…

[National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017.]
[National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017.]

The Gardens are not just plants and greenhouses. Usually scattered around is artwork created often by local artists. One example:

[National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, Photo by me, 2017.]

That is a “shrubmarine.”

Don’t believe me?

Seriously, it is.

[National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, Photo by me, 2017.]

See, I wasn’t kidding you.

[In the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017.]

Somehow, in all the years we have visited Ireland (I think I have been there probably at least once – sometimes several times – a year since 1998), I had never actually been to Phoenix Park. I was told by our friends’ scarily bright 14 year old son (who had not been with us to the Gardens; he had been at Trinity on Saturday doing some sort of super-advanced teen science day) that it is the largest city park in any Western European capital (and its web site confirms that). We headed over there on Sunday.

It was a major site of the papal visit in 1979. Mass was held for hundreds of thousands in it. As a child, our girlfriend had been in the crowd.

[In the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017]
[In the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017]

The park also contains the home of the US ambassador to the Republic of Ireland. (It’s the residence; the actual US embassy is not here.) Our ambassadors have lived in it since 1927. That was shortly after US recognition of the independent Irish Free State.

However, you can’t see the house from the road. It’s well back, behind trees. All that’s visible at its roundabout are roadside pillars, a gate, and flags.

“Rob,” our friends’ son informed me enthusiastically as we all drove by the house entrance, “there’s an American football pitch in its back garden!”

Yes, of course there is.

The park itself has a far longer history than that of the NFL…

[In the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017]

Dublin Zoo is also in the massive park:

[In Dublin Zoo, the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017]

I had not been to a zoo in longer than I could recall and initially was uneasy about this visit. Animals should be in the wild, I feel; but we know that real life and natural issues in our world today are more complicated than that. And the kids wanted to go.

I must say the zoo exceeded my expectations. Yes, it is to an extent a destination for families with younger children – or, to put it this way, as our girlfriend whispered to me as we’d found ourselves boxed in briefly, “It’s pram-ville.” However, it is far more about science and teaching than gawking at the creatures.

And the large mammals certainly have plenty of space…

[In Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017]

Unfortunately – here’s a surprise – the Irish weather wasn’t entirely perfect…

[In Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by me, 2017]

…And, as one resident was overheard to mutter, “Geez, it’s startin’ to feckin’ rain again?”

[Photo by me, 2017.]

“I want to see your new book,” our girlfriend also told me as we chatted alone in her kitchen at one point. “It sounds grand. My brilliant kids, too…”

“Uh, it’s not for their ages,” I warned her. “So you know. It’s probably mostly okay, but there are just, uh, some parts of it…”

“Ah, okay, yeh, I get what you’re sayin’,” she nodded. “Also, now, I don’t want to be on your blog after you go home,” she laughed.

Well, uh, I never promised she would go unmentioned.

She’s too good to omit. On the literary front, a matter about which I am naturally always greatly interested, she is an avid reader. She has always had a wide variety of tastes, and at one point I found myself sitting in the guestroom utterly surprised at what I’d seen…

[Photo by me, 2017.]

You can think you know someone pretty well. Then suddenly you find yourself taken aback at unexpectedly learning something new about their interests.

For I’d had not the slightest idea that she had actually read… Nelson Mandela’s autobiography.😂😂😂😂

Have a good Tuesday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

2 comments

  1. Back in 1979 when the pope visited my Sister and I were the only kids playing on the street. Everyone else was at the park to see the pope, even the Protestants and we were Catholic! And it’s always feckin’ raining but I love Dublin.

    Liked by 1 person

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