We visited Ann’s Bakery again for a pastry based breakfast and then we walked along Mary Street and St Mary’s Lane towards the Jameson’s Distillery Museum, but whiskey is my bogey drink so we didn’t go in, instead we carried on walking westwards under a darkening sky to the National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History.
There is free admission into the impressive old barracks that house the National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History. The Guinness factory looms over the river on the opposite bank and grey clouds convinced us to spend some time indoors. There were some women dancing in a circle in the central courtyard being filmed for some reason, but they soon scattered and fled indoors when it started raining.
Exhibitions in the museum included the work of fashion designer IB Jorgensen , displays of coins, interior design, silverware, goblets, an Eileen Gray (one of the most influential designers and architects of the 20th century and a leader in the Modern Movement) exhibition, old fashioned clothes, Albert Bender’s collection on Asian art, and a large exhibition called ‘Soldiers and Chiefs’ covering the Irish at war – home and abroad – from 1550. It was a really good museum with a wealth of interesting displays laid out in a thoughtful and informative manner.
Nearby on the barrack grounds there is a building housing the boat ‘Asgard’ which was used to smuggle German rifles from Hamburg to Ireland to help the nationalist movement in 1914. It has been very well restored and was another reminder of Ireland’s fight for independence. I’m sure if we had visited last year, 100 years since they were recognized as a separate nation, there would have been even more exhibitions about it. It’s definitely a story that they are not tired of telling and justly so I guess.
We went to U Cafe close by St Patrick’s Hospital for lunch. I thought it was also very close to the Irish Museum of Modern Art but due to some poor navigation (and we were doing so well!) we were a little way away from the Museum and had a bit of a trek in rain to find it. our clothes may have been damp, but our spirits certainly weren’t dampened.
Here’s a few shots from Jac Leirner’s Institutional Ghost which explores that ‘joy in repetition’ thing with everyday objects such as spirit levels, cigarette papers and plastic rulers.
The modern art in the museum was the usual collection of good and bad, and opinions are purely subjective aren’t they? Suffice to say some of it was shit and some of it was pretty good. Not sure how a bunch of cigarette papers stick to a wall constitutes art, but hey what do I know? Modern art is always entertaining if nothing else.
After getting our fill of pretentiousness we took another wrong turn in our aim of going to Kilmainham Gaol. Instead of walking through the parkland area and out of the big gate across the road from Kilmainham Gaol we went back the way we had come, walked alongside the grounds and came out at the road junction.
We found that the Gaol was booked up for the day but we weren’t set on visiting anyway. I have seen it on TV and heard tales from others that the guides lay it on thick about how the English mistreated the locals. I am sympathetic to their recent history but I don’t want to feel as though I should shoulder the blame.
Wed went into a nearby pub, the Patriots Inn, for a couple of diet cokes and then walked back over the river and to Phoenix Park. The rain was becoming tedious at this point and just thinking about the enormity of the park (one of the biggest in Europe apparently) made my feet hurt. So we walked as far as the Wellington Monument – a big old obelisk (ditto on the size I think) and then about turned and took a very random route back towards the hotel.
This route took us via Thor Place, Moira Road and the back roads onto Manor Street heading for the chimney at the Jameson’s Distillery Museum. It was interesting to see some residential areas that most tourists (especially those on the hop on hop off bus service) wouldn’t see. The wet cobbles and the rows of terraced houses were more in keeping with the romanticized visions I have of Ireland, but I’m sure they’re a pig to live in and cold in the winter.
We made a pit stop at the Glimmer Man pub on Stoneybatter for the cheapest pint of Guinness so far. It was good to have a drink in an out of the way pub and make use of the free WiFi connection. The glimmer man, we were told earlier in the day, was the man who would go around lighting the gas lamps and was the subject of a traditional song. We then walked past the Incorporated Law Society building on Blackhall Place to the river and back to the hotel via Ann’s Bakery for another cake.
All this walking around was tiring stuff and so another power nap was in order followed by, yes you guessed, free beverages at hotel bar. Then we walked over to the Corfu Greek Restaurant for dinner.
Wandering around Temple Bar afterwards, picking our way between groups on hen parties, stag does and bewildered looking foreign students, looking for a none too busy pub was a fool’s errand. Eventually we ended up back at the Ha’penny Bridge Inn and went upstairs where a live blues rock band (three chaps with guitars) were performing.
The place got pretty busy once the music started but we’d managed to find a couple of seats and a small table next to a large bunch of young Italian students. More Guinness was quaffed and the Italians started trying to toss beer mats. I felt obliged to show the nearest one of them a video of me doing a stack of twenty something: