Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Part 9, Back to Dublin

If it’s Tuesday, it must be time to head back to Dublin. Or Dubalin, as it is in all the songs.
Checkout time at the cottages is early, because Francis has to go somewhere this morning. It’s not a bad thing ; it gets us on the road at a decent hour with lots of time for stops and sightseeing along the way.

Between here and there is a freeway that’ll get us there in 2 hours. But there’s a green spot on the map just off our route, nearer the coast. Let’s go ! Wicklow Mountains National Park it is.
It’s a different kind of territory up here on the heights of the pass between the coast and the interior. Not a tree for a mile around on the windswept hills. One thing we haven’t gotten used to yet in Ireland is the smaller scale of everything, and the first van blows right past the parking area at the top of the pass, thinking it was kind of full and not that pretty and we could stop farther on. No, that’s it. Going down the eastern slope you’re quickly back into the forested lowland.
Near the end of the rapid descent there’s a beautiful monks’ tower in view. Let’s stop let’s stop. Of course.

We think we’ve found a little-known treasure, but discover that Glendalough is one of the biggest tourist attractions around. There’s a huge parking lot (only a handful of busses at the moment, thank goodness), a large hotel and restaurant, and plenty of bathrooms.
(overheard at the women’s room, the sound of several children’s voices : Missus Jones ! there’s no paper ! No paper !
Missus Jones : Sorry luvs, just do your best.
Passerby : There’s paper over here.
Missus Jones : ssh ! keep quiet or they’ll all want some.)

What have we here at Glendalough ? Beyond the hotel complex are the ruins of a small chapel, the monks’ tower, and a beautiful but much-trampled graveyard. An active graveyard, too : along the back are polished stones from just last year.

There’s a stream and a wooded valley and a trail to the lower and upper lakes. The walkway to the nearby lower lake is more a pedestrian highway than a trail, but D and I are bad, naturally, and leave the trail to spend a Maurice Moment in the humid calm. It would be lovely to spend a few hours here, time enough to reach the upper lake and beyond.

It’s unclear how long a stop we’re making. Some said 30 minutes because they were hungry and wanted to get to Dublin for lunch. Others found it terrible to stop in such a lovely spot, one we’ll never come back to, and leave without spending an hour. These people passed packages of cookies and apples purchased at the morning’s pit-stop around to the famished. That was all before we dispersed and discovered the size of the site and the qualities of the gigantic hotel restaurant.
Thinking the hour was up, and we will not be last to the vans, D and I get back ti find we have 40 minutes or so more, and look, plenty of tables on the patio. I’ll have a plate of chips and Darrell the root vegetable soup of the day. Soup and fries, how long can that take ? A very long time if your waitress brings your drinks and is then called away and neglects to tell the relief to place your food order. By the time we track her down, it’s to say Forget It.
Dublin. Delighting us tonight at the Unitarian Church are a fiddler and a guitarman whose names I forget but they’re favorites of Mac. The fiddler I really like, but alas he’s forgotten to bring his satchel of cd’s.
It’s very different hearing this music in the clean and uncluttered acoustics of the church. You can really hear it all without the distractions of people moving around, the clink of glasses, doors closing, bits of conversation. But while that distracting clutter is gone, so too is part of the ambiance. It would be nice to have a cider to sip, and to get more comfortable than this creaky church pew allows. It would be neat for other musicians and singers in the room to join in on a favorite old chorus. On the other hand, it is cool to have a good view of the artists and to be able to hear all they’re giving us, without losing any.

After the concert I opt for a last long soak in a tub, while D goes out with the die-hard Session seekers. Only one more evening left, after all - better get the pubbing in while we can.

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