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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 Two in Belfast: Black taxi tour and dinner with friends by Ann Treacy
August 17, 2019, 5:56 pm
Filed under: Belfast

I was reminded that teenagers like to sleep way more than visit anything. So I walked around Mary’s place in Belfast in the morning. It was great. As fast and as far as I wanted. And no one asked me for anything. I walked through some parks. Saw lovely vistas and pretty good street art.

Then by 2pm I made everyone get up for the Black Taxi tour of political murals. We did it when the girls were very young and it’s so good we did it again. Joe was our driver and gave us the quickest history of the Northern Ireland ever – starting with 1690 and the Battle of the Boyne. The battle was really about who was the rightful king of England (King James or King William). The fight wasn’t really about Ireland or religion; in fact it wasn’t about religion at all but it was the first step in a long step that led to the troubles.

I won’t recount everything – you can find a podcast on it I’m sure but only highlight two things that struck me. (I’ve heard the story many, many times. And for folks who don’t know, I have a MA in Irish Lit. But it seems like everything I hear the story something new bubbles up.)

The start of modern troubles begins in 1912, when the 32 counties of Ireland were divided into 26 (Republic of Ireland) and 6 (Northern Ireland). It was a compromise of sorts but a compromise that favors the Loyalists (folks who liked England and were generally Protestant) over the Nationalists (mostly Catholic) – despite the Nationalists being a strong majority nationwide. In fact, North Ireland was gerrymandered to create a Loyalist majority for the area. Joe pointed out that this is where things should have gone differently. A peaceful protest or other movement should have pushed for the will of the people in 1912. (Inspires me for more Women’s March work!)

From 1912-1916 there were uprising but few and far between – until Easter Rising 1916 when Nationalist volunteers took over the GPO (General Post Office) to defend Ireland. It lasted for 6 days, which is pretty impressive, then the rebels were captured and many sentenced to death. While public interest in the movement had been middling until that point, the executed rebels (the idea, the image, the romance) turned the public. And that spurred a renewed interest in a free and united Ireland.

The troubles continued with lesser and greater fervor until last 1960s, early 1970s. Uprisings happened. Rebels were arrested and treated as political prisons. It wasn’t always front page stuff until Margaret Thatcher decided to not call IRA volunteers political prisoners but treat them as criminals – starting with wearing a regular uniform instead of criminal uniform in prison. But the rebels weren’t having it. Instead of a criminal clothes, the prisoners went naked with blanket protest. (Only had blankets.) That stirred troubles that eventually lead to the Hunger Strikers and that (like the executed rebels) struck a chord. People paid attention again. Bobby Sands (most famous Hunger Striker) was voted into political office (MP) while in prison.

Fast forward to today. A ceasefire was signed with the IRA with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

As Joe pointed out, the crease fire has brought much greater investment and return than the troubles ever did. We did speculate about what will happen in the wake of Brexit. Most people in Northern Ireland would prefer to stay with the EU than the UK. Brings us back to 1912 – will the will  of the people be heeded and what romantic image might it take to spur interest.

SO there’s a long winded recap of our time on the tour. It was interesting to see what the girls remembered. Lily remembered the memorial to a Catholic community that had been burned out of their homes while police stood by (or worse). They all remembered the Peace Wall that separated Catholic from Protestant parts of town. The murals tell the story. And the murals continue to be painted. Our friend Mary had just helped with one and I loved the recent-ish mural on Resiliency. One strange push we saw near Sandy Row (and really in the UK Flag demonstration we saw the next day) was the push by some people to celebrate and remember the oppressors. It very much reminded me of the discussion back home of changing the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska.

In short – the back taxi tour gave us so much to think about!

Then we enjoyed a really nice dinner with our hosts Mary and Ricky. Mary generously invited us to stay in her place, drove us around, gave us great ideas for activities. And it was a delight to catch up with Mary again – we worked together 30 years ago at the Half Time Rec!



Day One in Belfast: Street art and everyone is together by Ann Treacy
August 16, 2019, 1:10 pm
Filed under: Belfast

Thursday was a travel day. Aine, Kate and I took the bus to Belfast. It’s a trip we’ve done many times. We met up with Lily and Sean here. I have to give a special shout out to Mary, a long time friend who has given us her whole flat for a couple days. And so much great advice on where to go and what to see. And it’s just great to see her. (Mary and I worked together at the Half Time Rec many years ago.)

When we got here we walked around. We ate at Pizza Express, which is something Aine has been looking forward to for a long time. She just remembers going there as a kid. SO we went there and then got the bird’s eye view of the city in the big elevator in Victoria Shopping Center. It was sunny and we could see for miles. And on our walk we saw the giant Belfast fish, a favorite of mine and lots of street art.

At night Lily, Sean and I went out to the Duke of York and a couple places around there for a pint and to see some live bands.



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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