Siggy and I needed to pace ourselves on our final day in Dublin because of the prospect of a lot of waiting around at the airport. Plus I had a bit of hangover from the night before. For breakfast we went to the Kingfisher Restaurant opposite the hotel at around 11am, having left our main bag in the hotel bag room. The restaurant (more a large fish and chip shop really) had been recommended to us by the taxi driver on day one.
Dublin City Gallery is a quick walk from the Kingfisher Restaurant around Parnell Square across the road from The Garden of Remembrance. The Garden is a memorial to the memory of those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.
It had been raining lightly and so the soles of my wet trainers squeaked on the wooden floors inside the gallery spaces and Siggy’s cough made an echoing counterpoint.
Among the various galleries was an exhibition called ‘Port Life’ not to be confused with Pork or Park Life. This showcased the work of Eugeen Van Mieghem an Antwerp-based artist who captured images from the First World War and life around the docks.
We watched a 6 minute film entitled ‘Ships Passing in the Night’ featuring the faces of boy and girl scouts and families in the dark being intermittently illuminated by a passing light – which turns out to be a lighthouse in the end (oh oh Spoilers!). Siggys review is as follows: “If you’re tired, it’s worth a sit down.”
Another room showcased the work of Sean Scully – abstract blocks of colour that wouldn’t look out of place covering a Stone Roses record. I found another John Singer Sargent portrait hidden among the old portraits – it was of a typically wan looking chap. Also in the museum are some good atmospheric works by Elizabeth Magill.
In another room, the recreation of his studio at 7 Reece Mews, London, reminded me how much I don’t like the work of Francis Bacon.
“This mess here around us is rather like my mind; it may be a good image of what goes on inside me, that’s what it’s like, my life is like that,” he is quoted as saying.
Dublin Writers Museum is next door to the City Gallery but we didn’t bother with it. The guide book made it sound quite dull. For those who might be interested, the writers featured in the museum are people who made an important contribution to literature either globally or within Ireland and there are portraits of writers by artists such as Patrick Swift, Reginald Gray, and Edward McGuire. No Bacon.
So I took a quick snap of the Parnell Monument and we walked down O’Connell Street, into a souvenir shop to buy a fridge magnet, then to a sweet shop in the shopping arcade on Mary Street and then back to the GPO for an expensive exhibition about, drum roll… the Easter Rising. given that the GPO was a pivotal location in what happened it made sense. There was a guided tour scheduled a half hour after we arrived but we didn’t feel we had time to wait. There were some interesting videos and some dull information panels and I didn’t think it was value for money if I am honest. Again, I’m sure the guided tour is a lot more interesting.
At the GPO, not only do you exit via the gift shop (like so many other tourist attractions), you also exit via the cafe. We sat down and had some cheese and ham croissants and a bit to drink – just coke and water disappointingly. We were sitting by an advert for some special commemorative stamps and Siggy remarked again that James Connolly has a striking resemblance to the policeman in the BBC comedy The Thin Blue Line – the one who didn’t like nanny pamby arty farty stuff. There was a portrait in Dublin Castle with the same resemblance.
Our earlier perusal of the many and varied fridge magnets available for purchase in the gift shop made us seek out the statue of Molly Malone which we had somehow failed to notice, or according to Siggy noticed but been too abashed by her shiny cleavage to pay it much importance. We had certainly walked past it at least once as I recognized the closed down church that the statue stands beside.
So over the river we went, dodging around crowds of people bottlenecked by the bollards beside the roadworks and deep puddles in the uneven tarmac of the pavements, and up past Trinity College and down a side street to quickly visit Molly and admire her shiny bronze boobage.
Then we headed back towards the river via City Hall which we intended to have a look into (having previously ignored it in favour of the Castle). Unfortunately it’s not open on a Sunday, but it did give me an excuse to suggest we killed the time before we caught the bus to the airport by drinking some more Guinness.
So back over the Liffey we went, via the narrow Millennium Bridge (installed in December 1999 to commemorate the new millennium) and had some more lovely Guinness at The Gin Palace on Middle Abbey Street. It’s apparently home to Dublin’s largest collection on gin, but why would you when you can have a pint of the black stuff?
We picked up our bag from the hotel and then got the airport bus from the stop on O’Connell Street. The buses run every 15min on a Sunday. We boarded along with a mass of French girls, a hen do and the participants of a Northern English lads weekend. The lads could generously be described as lively.
We had a McDonalds at the airport for tea, the highlight being a Toffee Crisp McFlurry and then checked in. The departures area and the associated gate areas are really great at Dublin Airport – just as good as any Heathrow terminal and to my mind better than Oslo airport and East Midlands. There’s lots of little shops among the usual chains and plenty of waiting areas and places to eat and drink.
The total distance we walked over our little break was at least 50km, that’s around 31 miles, 73,587 steps so it’s no wonder my feet were killing me as we waited to board the flight home. We were late boarding but the pilot put his foot down and got us home pretty much on time. We got into the airport right next to our baggage reclaim point with no passport control, I picked our bag off the conveyor belt and we were out at the taxi point within five minutes of stepping off the plane. I can’t fault Ryan Air, although the online booking system and charges for prebooking seats were a source of some disgruntlement last week.