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Happy Bloomsday – with pandemic time on my hands I have time for a retrospective by Ann Treacy
June 17, 2020, 4:03 am
Filed under: Bloomsday, Dublin

Happy Bloomsday! The day celebrates James Joyce’s way out there novel, Ulysses, which follows Leopold Bloom around Dublin on June 16, 1904. There are 18 chapters that parallel the episodes of Homer’s epic Odysseus. Rumor has it they are calling it Zoomsday this year. I thought I’d go through old note (and photos of Dublin) to see how many episodes I could remember.

Episodes 1-3 follow Steven Dedalus. It starts at the Sandycove Maratello Tower, near 40 foot. (I have a picture of us swimming at 40 foot; it’s freezing and there were jellyfish!) Mulligan is kind of a jerk. Dedalus leaves to teach a class. He gets into a discussion with the headmaster about Jews in Ireland. (Leopold is Jewish.) Dedalus claims that God is a shout in the street. Eventually Dedalus ends up on Sandymount Strand, a beach on the Dublin Bay. The episode is very stream of consciousness; we’ll see later that despite being a very nice area, Sandymount seems to inspire grittiness. (I’ve chosen a picture of a picnic actually between Sandycove and the Maratello Tower at Sea Point.)

Episode 4 – enter our hero Leopold Bloom. lived at 7 Eccles Ave. The door of that home is now at the James Joyce Museum. (And that’s our picture!) Leopold is cooking breakfast for his wife Molly, the singer. She’s having an affair with her manager Blazes Boylan and that’s driving Leopold crazy. He also wonders if it would be possible to walk across Dublin without passing a pub.

Episode 5 – Leopold is all about the women – getting a love letter from one (who isn’t his wife) and trying to sneak a peek at another wearing stockings. He seems a little lecherous. Leopold visit St George’s Church, which leads to some theological turmoil and alignment to sexual allusions that went over like a lead balloon in Catholic Ireland back in the day.

Episode 6 – Leopold joins several others on a way to Paddy Dingham’s funeral at Glasnevin – crossing the four Dublin rivers/canals in the processional. (I’ve included a picture of the girls at Glasnevin, where we totally saw a ghost.) Leopold remembers his son (Rudy) who died and his father, who committed decided.

Episode 7 – Bloom tries to place an ad; the format of the chapter is a series of newspaper headlines. The conversation is scattered. Funny it would nearly be like reading Tweets now.

Episode 8 – Lots happens but in the spirit of brevity, Leopold has a gorgonzola sandwich at Davy Byrne’s pub. He talks about his declining marriage. He talks about the goddesses in the National Gallery – about the anatomy they share with humans. (We usually go for the bog people at the Museum; I have a photo of the girls there.)

Episode 9 – Leopold visits the National Library. (One of my proudest moments was when I got a library card at the National Library as a student!) There’s a lot of talk about Shakespeare’s Hamlet and his wife’s fidelity. But mostly it’s a lot of blowhards – and in the end Leopold admitting that he doesn’t even believe his own theory.

Episode 10 – This chapter is a quick take on what’s happening with all of the minor characters in the novel. It’s presented like a description of an artwork. It’s very much a love letter to the city map of Dublin, including a brief stint in Phoenix Park. (I’m going to include a picture of the deer in Phoenix Park.)

Episode 11 – The singing chapter that takes place at the Ormond Hotel. Two barmaids are fighting. Blazes Boylan is in the same bar – on his way to meet up with Leopold’s wife. The language of the chapter is a musical, alliterative tongue twister.

Episode 12 – This is another pub scene. The Citizen is holding court and doesn’t like Leopold – he’s a Fenian and anti-Semite. There’s a language of North Dublin that I’ve always liked in the chapter and fighting. I have a strong memory of Joyce’s line about “Mendelssohn was a jew and Karl Marx and Mercandente and Spinoza.  And the Saviour was a jew and his father was a jew.  Your God.”

Dun Laoghaire

Episode 13 – We’re back at Sandymount with Dedalus and Leopold and Gerty MacDowell. Gerty is daydreaming of romance. Leopold is watching nearby. Gerty flashes him. He masturbates and fireworks go off in Dun Laoghaire. He finds out she has a disabled leg. Then he starts feel bad about his indiscretion and then decides it’s all in his head. (So many pictures to choose form here. Just kidding but we lived near Dun Laoghaire so I was able to find a few.)

Episode 14 – Leopold visits the maternity hospital in Merrion Square. And area we know well because that’s where we often caught the bus home. On a high level the episode is about the birth of the English language. With different sections being written in the prose of different authors. On the face of it the mother to be has been in labor for days. The guys go for a drink and talk about sex and birth and life.

Episode 15 – The longest chapter is written like a screenplay. It’s a trip into Dublin’s red light district, which Joyce calls night town. It’s phantasmagorical. Leopold and Dedalus visit the brothels. I remember someone turning into a pig. Dedalus remembers his dead mother. Dedalus is drunk and overpays for services. It’s very vivid. There’s a fight and a soldier and eventually the cops show up and the two heroes disappear into the night.

Episode 16 – Leopold and Dedalus go to the taxi rank. Dedalus is drunk. Leopold is not. They talk about everything. We don’t know what’s true and what’s imagination. Leopold is worried for Dedalus because his young and foolish with drink and money. It’s rings pretty true to the end of a good night in Dublin.

Episode 17 – Leopold brings Dedalus home. There is a literal pissing contest of sorts. Dedalus doesn’t stay. Leopold goes to bed with his wife, who has 309 questions for him.

Episode 18 – The Molly Bloom soliloquy. She is in bed. She is thinking of lovers – past and present. It’s back to the stream of consciousness. Talk moves from farting to periods to marriage proposals at Howth Head (I’ll include a picture from there – a place we loved to visit on the opposite side of Dublin Bay from where we lived.) I always love this chapter for the line – the sun shines for you senorita. But upon looking back I have mangled the line horribly, which seems fitting. Molly’s speech gets very sexual, showing that Joyce was very equal opportunity with literacy climaxes.

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about Ulysses. When I was doing the MA at University College Dublin, you sort of chose James Joyce or Samuel Beckett for the exams. And I leaned to Beckett, who was much more theater (and novels!) of the absurd. I think I have the COVID pandemic to thanks for the time and inclination to walk down literary memory lane.  I was struck at how much Leopold, now one of the most famous Dubliners, feels like an outsider. I think we all do.



Last day in Dublin spent down memory lane in Cabinteely by Ann Treacy
August 23, 2019, 11:08 am
Filed under: Dublin

The last day of Dublin is always rough. I start getting nervous about the flight – and how to get there, and did we leave the AirBNB nice enough. (A quick aside, we now know of a super awesome place to stay in Dublin if you need one!) And it’s a little sad to leave and a little happy to be going home. And we left Lily behind for a few days and we’ll miss her.

So to add emotion to nerves and extreme fatigue we went to Cabinteely where we used to live with the girls’ Irish Grandma. The house has been entirely redone. It looks really nice but it’s different. The park (Kilbogget) across the street looks the same. It is a nice park, mostly for soccer and rugby but there’s a nice walking path and a few playgrounds. The view is spectacular. You can the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains.

We went into the Cabinteely village to check out the library. (No pun intended.) There was a day when I thought we had read every book on those shelves. It’s still a nice library. There was a knitting club meeting while we visited, lots of little kids and an older gentleman reading the newspaper. Then we had lunch at the Italian, which was a favorite back in the day. The we finished the visit at Cabinteely Park, which really is a world class park. The girls played on the playground equipment they loved as kids. I always thought the playground equipment in Ireland seemed like more fun that American playgrounds. I was going to say that’s probably my imagine, but it’s probably less stringent safety rules.

We also went up to see the art by the manor. Cabinteely is the home of the giant hopper used for the old Irish Sweepstakes. So there’s that.

At night, Kate went to Dun Laoghaire to visit friends, which meant she took the train there and back alone. And lived to tell the tale! So that’s good. And Lily took the rest of us to dinner, which was entirely unexpected. We went to the Port House tapas bar on South William Street. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Great food. Great buzz about the place. Feels like you’re in a cave. A few pints later and now we’re at the airport – in the American sin bin. You go through pre-clearance in Dublin and then they send you to a corner of the airport. It means a lot of security passes, multiple queues for showing your boarding pass and immigration and then a very adequate place to wait. (Although I’ll be having a beer in 20 mins so might feel differently in an hour!)



Science Gallery introduces us to the biometric age – and we meet more friends by Ann Treacy
August 22, 2019, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Started the day off meeting a long time friend, Gary Murphy. It’s always great to see Gary and it feel like no time has passed since last we met. We talked about his theater work, politics, life and health (which is an indication that we are no longer 20) and everything. It was great to catch up.

Then the girls and I went to the Science Gallery, which remains one of my favorite places in the world! The exhibit was called Perfection. The girls learned a ton about DNA and genetic modification. The gallery does such a nice job of combining science and art to make a lot a data and info more accessible and interesting. We each stepped into the biometric mirror. It uses algorithms to assess your personality and general facts about you. For example, my biometric age is 44. So I’m going with that now. (Note: will need to update my driver’s license when I get home!) It also gives you a score for happiness, kindness, aggression and other feelings or qualities. Then – the mirror uses your picture to produce a more perfect you. I’m going to post all of the pictures for the process below:

After the Science Gallery we went back to the National Gallery. I think it’s genius that the museums are free here. (MIA is free at home too, which is nice!) But it makes it so easy to stop in anytime and people grow up closer to art and history. Then we went shopping at the secondhand stores, saw some more street art.

We met the girls’ Uncle Fearghal for dinner, which was very nice. Fearghal used to take us (and their Irish Grandma) out to lunch and usually an adventure every Sunday. He is the reason we got to see most things we saw outside of the Dublin County limits. While we always had fun, I imagine there were some Sunday mornings where Uncle Fearghal might have preferred an extra hour of sleep to toting people to the Bog of Allen or New Grange.

We ended the night with a few pints at the local pub.



Climbed a mountain today – or at least Killiney Hill; Saw a new play at the Abbey by Ann Treacy
August 21, 2019, 8:43 am
Filed under: Dublin

Today we headed to the Northside – me the girls and a friend from Lily’s college who is here at the same time. We took the DART (great for views) to Killiney to check out the beach and then climb Killiney Hill. It’s another activity that was pretty popular with us when we lived here. It turns out the girls are not in the same good condition they were back in the day. There was a lot of huffing, puffing and pausing on the way to the top but one we made it the views were worth it. Even after it started to rain.

After the big climb, we headed to lunch in Dalkey. There is nothing better than seafood chowder after a big walk. The we walked around Dalkey, especially it see Dalkey Island. We were horrified to see people jumping from from a high wall into the sea. First, the wall was too high. Second, the sea is too cold. But I had to share some pictures of strangers jumping.

Also went to dinner and the Abbey with Tony Roche and Katy Hayes. They were very, very good to us when we lived here before so it was nice to catch up. It’s fun to hear how families change and flourish; they all seem to be doing well. And we went to opening night of The Hunger at the Abbey. (Katy writes reviews for the Irish Independent. I can’t want to see her review.)

It is an opera, here’s a brief description from the website

Asenath Nicholson travelled in Ireland and provided relief to starving people during the Great Famine. Her harrowing first-person account Annals of the Famine in Ireland forms the basis of this extraordinary opera by Donnacha Dennehy, composer of the award-winning The Last Hotel and The Second Violinist. Director Tom Creed makes his debut on the Abbey stage with the European premiere of a moving and thrilling new work.

It as if someone put the exact words of her account to music; she is reporting and commenting on the state, especially of a father who has brought a dying child to town, looking for relief/support. The father sings his reaction to his story. And occasionally experts from the field appear on multimedia screens to offer social and academic commentary.

The music isn’t drone – I almost wish it had been because that would be interesting to me but it is repetitive, sometimes cacophonous sometimes dramatic. More palatable for a wider audience but like drone, it’s not as easy to listen to, it requires more work from the audience. That mixed with the operatic singing is an interesting juxtaposition. As one of my friends said, dying isn’t very dramatic on stage. And while the show is barely over an hour, it seems long. But I assume that’s by design. It puts the audience in the middle of the famine. It’s bleak, it’s seemingly never-ending. (Or in the case of the dying daughter, she dies right before the father gets money.)  The themes are compelling.

The commentary highlights the economics and morality of famine versus free market economy. Some opinions: If the British had invested in jobs and job training versus workhouses, the outcome may have been different. Giving to grand scope tragedies like this is futile, because there isn’t enough money to make a difference. And of course giving money to the poor, means the rich get less. Some of the rich feel that it’s a meritocracy – that the poor are someone deserving of their plight or are at least not deserving of something better.

It makes me think of my time spent helping Monica advocate for the homeless in the Twin Cities. Is it futile to give? Will the rich be unwilling to give up renting luxury apartments in lieu of affordable housing? I also couldn’t help but think of the families and the children on the US-Mexican border. How can we continue to watch people die before we decide to make a difference?

The play brings up George Thompson, a British abolitionist who toured the US to lecture about the role American played in the perpetuation of slavery. Such an interesting choice. Tied to the video commentary in the play. A lot so questions arise, observations are made – now it is up to the audience to be inspired to action.

The audience didn’t riot as they did for the opening of John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in 1907 when they saw the show as a offense to public morality – maybe we’re thicker skinned now. Maybe right people aren’t in the theater. Maybe we need this to open in El Paso, Texas.

Also – I’ll be certainly using some of the ideals of investing in people rather than letting them flounder in my day job, writing about how investment in rural broadband has a certain and palpable return on investment and without it communities will die.



Street art in Dublin and meeting an old friend by Ann Treacy
August 20, 2019, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Dublin

We’ve reached the point of the vacation where everyone needs a little alone time. Except, of course, if you want your mom to come with you to Penney’s to buy you cheap and cheerful clothes. (That’s how I got the picture of the girls near the Spire.) So I spent the morning walking around parks and the afternoon chasing down street art.

I also met a long time friend, Karina, at the IFI (Irish Film Institute). Karina and I worked at Mother Redcaps market together at a cafe called Bread and Roses. It was great to see Karina looking and doing so well. And every time I see Karina, she gives me an Irish book. She is one of the best promoters of Irish authors that I know! Also at the IFI I got to see an Oscar that the girls and I got to hold 9 years ago!

I won’t say much about the art. I have added some notes, like locations – but it didn’t last long as that seems like a lot of computer time on vacation. Many of the pictures I got in Camden and the Liberties. Some I have walked by in the last few days. And a lot of it comes from Templebar. The scale of the art is not always evident much much fills the wall. You can see that people get creative in where the post things – second floor is fair game.



Sunday in Dun Laoghaire and dinner with the Fitzgerald’s – like old home week by Ann Treacy
August 19, 2019, 8:48 am
Filed under: Dublin, Dun Laoghaire

It really feels like we’re in Dublin now that we’ve done two of our favorite and most regular things. We walked down Dun Laoghaire pier and gone to visit with the Fitzgerald’s.

We took the DART out to Dun Laoghaire and walked down the pier as we have done about a hundred times before. Although Aine was the only one who wanted a 99 (ice cream cone) so I knew something was different. We didn’t see any seals, which was a great disappointment to me but Lily and I did see a porpoise (or dolphin – hard to tell when all we really saw was the dorsal fin). The pier was busy. It was super sunny for part of the walk, then a big rain and wind storm blew through, then sunny. So pretty much the same as usual.

And that we popped into the People’s Park where they were having a Ukulele Hooley, which was fun. People playing music and lots of market-type stuff going on. Every third person was carrying a ukulele so it must have been a big deal.

Then Barney picked us up and we headed to the Fitzgerald’s. They had kindly invited us with almost no advance warning but Ailbhe is heading out of town today so it was a now or never sort of deal. Barney drove the girls to see their old school, Cabinteely village and their Irish grandma’s house. Although the house has been completely redone – in fact it looks like it may have been entirely rebuilt.

It was great to catch up. I haven’t seen the girls laugh that much in a while. We ended the night with s’mores. It was a super fun day but also I imagine a little hard for the girls.



Day Six: Titanic in Belfast underground music in Dublin by Ann Treacy
August 18, 2019, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Belfast, Dublin

Day Six was a travel day but we made the most of it! Aine and I got up early and went to the Titanic Museum. Aine is an expert in the Titanic. She has loved it for years and I had to laugh at how much I knew because Aine likes to share what she knows. For example – the old lookout guy was moved to another ship right before the maiden launch. He took the binoculars (or maybe the key to the binoculars) with him, which of course hindered the spotting of the iceberg. We have been to several Titanic exhibits over the years. It is always chilling to think of how scary it must have been and the impact surviving such a tragedy would have on the rest of your life. Watching so much life and death and the best and the worst of people. From Margaret (Molly) Brown, the woman who helped others onto the lifeboats to J, Bruce Ismay, he worked for the shipping company but somehow found his way onto a lifeboat – perhaps taking the last seat available.

After that Aine and I walked around town until the girls and Sean met us at the bus station. We did get to St George’s Market, a fun food market where they have tons of spices and fish and plenty of food to eat on site. And we stopped in the Belfast City Hall.

Then the bus to Dublin. Unremarkable – until we saw the place we will be placing in for the next week. It is gorgeous! There are three bedrooms, two living rooms, a patio and a fully stocked kitchen. The woman who owns it had filled the fridge with “everything Irish” from smoked salmon to brown bread and digestives. Aine and Kate especially were so happy. It wasn’t the food their Irish grandma would have had waiting but I think the fact that there was food waiting reminded them of when we used to come stay with Irish grandma. It was a very thoughtful gesture, more meaningful than the host even intended I suspect.

We are staying behind Trinity a few blocks from Merrion Park – home to my favorite Oscar Wilde statue. It’s not as central as the last place – but it’s even better. It’s not as loud with partying tourists and the place is so nice. We hung out and eventually Lily and I went to dinner. I finally got a bowl of seafood chowder!! It was worth the wait. And the it turns out everyone met us at the pub, including a cousin of Sean who then took most of us to an surprise gig by The Murder Capital. So much fun! Probably will not be repeated again while we’re here but totally worth it.



Day 3 in Dublin: Deer, modern art and Guinness by Ann Treacy
August 14, 2019, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Today the girls were a little under the weather. Or maybe they were sick of me – but aside from lunch and dinner I had the day to myself. I walked up to Phoenix Park. On the way, I visited Collins Barracks where they have a few airplanes hanging from the ceiling. Actually it’s now the National Museum of Decorative Arts & History.

From there I hiked up to Phoenix Park. My plan was to find the deer from my friend Monica. I forgot that they could be anywhere. SO I got to do some hiking. But then I was rewarded. I forgot how tame these deer are. I think I could have taken one home if I had a leash.

Then I hiked up to Kilmainham Hospital to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. I love that place. I love how it feels like a sanitarium. It’s creepy but cool and so clean and white now. And I always like their exhibits. Today one was about dead machines and anxiety.

On the way back, I walked by the Guinness factory, which is fun since many years ago I used to live just around the corner. I didn’t stop because I’m not actually that into drinking Guinness.



Dublin Day Two: Art Galleries, shopping and walking by Ann Treacy
August 14, 2019, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Dublin

We started the day with big plans to get to several art galleries: Hugh Lane, National Gallery, Irish Modern (in the old Kilmainham Hospital). On the way to Hugh Lane, we noticed that Penney’s (cheap and cheerful clothes) was open. So we had to stop and Kate got a few things, including a much needed jacket. Then off to Hugh Lane – by way of the Garden of Remembrance. It really is a gorgeous park and it was so sunny.

At the Hugh Lane we saw my favorite stained glass art and the walking video. (When the walking video first opened there were videos all over town supporting the show. I loved it!) We also the Plundered Planet show by Mark Dion, which was thoughtful and yet beautiful. It does make a statement on the impact of people on nature. After that we got caught up shopping for shoes at the ILAC Shopping Center. If you see Aine in her new creepers, you’ll know where she got them.

Then we made a stop by the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Trinity College – mostly because it’s part of the short cut to get to the National Gallery – but they had some out there stuff that I really liked. Poor Kate – the only artist in the group – is not a fan of modern so she sat outside.

Then folks were hungry so we got some food and Marks & Spencer’s and headed to Stephen’s Green and had a little picnic outside. Picnic is always a good idea in Dublin because as much as it rains, there’s usually some sunny spots too. And it’s easier when you have someone who is vegan plus (That’s plus more restrictive.) with someone like me who doesn’t really like vegetables.

Post picnic we stopped by the History Museum to see the bog bodies (bodies preserved in the bogs for centuries) a long time favorite attraction for us. Finally we headed to the National Gallery. We saw a few things – mostly French Impressionists and Jack B. Yeats. We also saw a cool collaboration between the Gallery and a nail salon called Pop Tropical (or something like that). They did nail-based art. It was very cool, each manicure represented a different work from the Gallery.

Then the girls got tired. SO they went for a nap and I went for a walk. I walked from the Ha’Penny Bridge to the Grand Canal Docks and back. I saw a lot of street art – including the Lane of Icons in Temple Bar. I saw some kids taking swimming lessons. I walked by Google and Facebook. All in all a pleasant day!

At night we walked around. Saw some buskers. Checked out the Whitefriars Church were St Valentine is buried. (Not really, but they do have a St V relic.) We saw checked out a pub with some traditional music.



Last day in MN and Day One in Dublin: Talk about an amazing race! by Ann Treacy
August 13, 2019, 7:31 am
Filed under: Dublin, St Paul

It seems like maybe I can’t start talking about the family trip to Dublin before I mention my last day in Minnesota. I woke up early (pre 6 am) to trek to a triathlon. It was my second – it includes 500 yards swimming, 16 miles bike and a 3 mile run. I actually liked the swim and the run. I hate the biking. Since math has never been my strong point, each year I forget that biking is the largest portion of the race.

But I did the race with friends. I met friends along the way. I got to know a few people better. And now I’m done.

After that, Heather and I hosted Erik Koskinen and Al Church on our radio show. I’m big fans of each and I am so thankful that they are both easy going, super talented and were OK with the fact that I have been sharper on better days. It was a perfect distraction and a great show!

Then we left for Dublin. Honestly I’m not sure that I had an hour of (to use the term hammered into us in my open plan high school) unscheduled time before we got to the airport.

Aine, Kate and I are in Dublin for a few days. We’ll meet Lily (and her boyfriend Sean) in Belfast where we’re staying with one of my kindest friends in the world, who someone got Aine a Dr Seuss makeover last time we went to Belfast.

We are staying right on top of the Ha’Penny Bridge in the city center. Smack dab in the city center. The view is awesome. Aine has remarked at how she forgot about how the doors and everything here is just a little different. We were tired on the first day. So tired. But we got in a few walks, an Indian meal and Kate and I went for a drink. I did get to visit Mother Redcaps – a pub and market where I worked years ago. It hasn’t been open in a long time but I still love visiting.




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