Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dublin, the Pipes the Pipes!

As we were riding the bus into the center of Dublin from the airport, we began to see pubs overflowing with blue- and red-jerseyed football fans (Gaelic football, as it turned out). The blue jerseys considerably outnumbered the reds, so I figured the blues were Dublin. The reds, as I later discovered, were from Cork—and they won. So, um, yay Cork?

Dublin is so easy. From the Charles Stuart Guesthouse, a basic tourist B&B just a few steps from O’Connell Street with The Dublin Spire in the middle, it's just a ten-minute walk to Trinity College and St. Steven's Green. As you're crossing the river Liffey, you'll hear Irish music coming from dozens of bars. Go in. Drink a cider for me. Ah, drink two. You'll never make it to Trinity College, but what the hay.

The Dubliners, at least the taxi drivers, are really proud of their spire. And let me tell you what: I wish every town had such a honking spire. You can see it from all over the city, even when you’ve had a lot of cider. Get a hotel close to the spire and you'll always know where you're sleeping.

There's the sweetest man at the reception of the Charles Stuart Guesthouse. His job is to give you tips and make you smile, and he does his job well. He told us that to hear live Irish music away from the throngs of tourists we needed to go to The Cobblestone. We did. Who likes traditional Irish music? Can we get a show of hands? Put down your fiddles and your pipes. Anyone? No one? That’s sad, because traditional Irish music—even if it is awfully monotonous and, well, painful to the untrained ear—it is also blindingly intricate. It moves me when I give into it.  Here’s a taste:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmSDFCdtH7Y&feature=related

For the first few songs, you tap your foot and wiggle your head. By the fourth song, you begin to wonder if the group of local musicians (who are all seated at the front of the pub in a special area, much like the one in the video above) aren’t playing the first song again or maybe the second one. It all sounded the same. But. But. But. The fifth song changed the way I felt about traditional Irish music altogether. The song still sounded like all the others, but there was an uncanny togetherness among the nine musicians. Not one note fell out of place. When they finished, the pub exploded with applause and I had a tear in my eye. So we left.

“Best to end on a good note,” I said.

“I don’t think I could have taken much more,” said my father.

The next morning we were off to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells. I love learning, but I hate museums. Imagine you’re reading a book, but the whole time there’s a group of Italian tourists behind you whispering veloce! veloce! That’s what I don’t like about museums.

I found the exhibit interesting because it described the art of manufacturing a book, from the production of ink and dyes to the binding of the book itself. If I can’t get a publisher all squishy about my novel, I’ll know how to make it myself. I just need to start digging for some red lead acetate in the garden.

More about Dublin next week, but for now . . .

I must be off,
Christopher