O'Connell Street, with the statue of Jim Larkin (Irish trade unionist), the Spire and the historic GPO
A few weeks ago my friend Maeve, of The Plath Diaries suggested we see the Abbey Theatre's adaptation of James Joyce's The Dead. I immediately agreed and the intripid Maeve got a great deal on a hotel near St. Stephen's Green for this weekend just past. It was luxurious being right in the centre of the city. Both of us were determined to detox from the stresses of Christmas and made a promise to indulge ourselves without feeling guilty.
On Friday we both arrived in Dublin in late afternoon (she travelling from Omagh, I from Sligo). After checking into the hotel we went for a walk around the glowing environs of Grafton Street.
We had dinner at Maeve's favourite restaurant Acapulco, before going to see Neil Young: Journeys at the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield. Acapulco is somewhere I'd never been before despite passing it frequently on South Great George's Street, there was so much choice, which makes a change for a vegetarian like myself. I wasn't ready to order until the waiter came back to our table for a third time, oops! There is a plethora of Mexican establishments in Dublin, having popped up in the past three years. What I would've done for a burrito as an undergrad! Well I'm making up for lost time now!
On Grafton Street, thanks to Maeve for the photo!
On Saturday morning Maeve and I went for breakfast at Fallon and Byrne, before taking ourselves for a cheeky mid-morning tipple at the Bank bar on College Green, our excuse being that it was a "brisk" day!
One of my resolutions this year was to read more Irish literature. Before the matinee showing at the Abbey we stopped by the Winding Stair bookshop, just off the Ha'Penny Bridge for a browse. I wanted to pick up a copy of Kevin Barry's short stories. A few of my friends recommended his writing to me and what better souvenir of my lovely Dublin weekend. When I buy books as gifts I endeavour to buy Irish books from independent book stores, as a matter of principle.
It was such a lovely clear afternoon on Saturday that we were almost disappointed that we had to sit indoors for a couple of hours, but it was still light when we came out of the brilliant performance, which played to a full house. After having a look in the GPO museum (more on that another day), we took the opportunity to behave like tourists and took some snapshots outside.
Sloe gin on the rocks at the Bank on College Green, a grandly decorated yet cosy bar in the heart of Dublin, housed within an old nineteenth-century bank
Maeve's photo of the Winding Stair bookshop
Kevin Barry's 2007 compilation of short stories, often with a rural, Irish context (something I can relate to as being from a relatively small Irish town)
Waiting for curtain call at The Abbey
The lovely Maeve at a pillar of the GPO, the bullet holes of the 1916 Rising are still discernable, which give me goosebumps whenever I go looking for them!
We walked up to College Green and as dusk fell we walked on the cobblestones of Trinity, having a long talk, before meeting a friend of Maeve's at the Trinity Gate. Indulging in a very twenty-first century vice, I idly browsed through instagram, while we mused on where to have a sociable drink. On my feed I noticed that someone had posted a delectable glass of elderflower and gooseberry infused gin, from the the newly opened Damson Diner on South William Street.
Damson Diner's vegetarian selection was very limited, so I had the portabello mushroom burger, not expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised upon arrival, both with taste and presentation. I especially loved the American style fries on the side. The staff were attentive and I loved the cool contemporary diner feel, a great place for a Saturday night meal.
We headed back to the hotel for a lounge and outfit change, a couple of hours later, we emerged, sparkling, returning to the Bank bar, now bustling with the older Saturday night crowd, before moving on to the No Name bar on Fade St, a favourite of us both when we're in the city. Tiredness won out though, and we retired to the hotel shortly after midnight.
On our final morning, we didn't stray far from Stephen's Green, going for food at Bewley's, always busy but always beautiful. Then we walked to the National Concert Hall, a portion of which is currently dedicated to Alice Maher's mid-career retrospective 'Becoming'. The exhibition was enlightening for us both and I will certainly return before it concludes on February 17th.
There you have the recipe for a great weekend in Dublin: a dear friend, cheap seats at the theatre, a bargain hotel room, delicious food and drink, mixed with leisurely walks, beautiful bookshops and gallery visits.
Pursuing Damson Diner's menu
Projections onto the facade of Trinity College ahead of the NYE celebrations on College Green