Saturday, May 16, 2015

Quick Trip to Dublin, day three (part one)

I know what you're thinking, geez, get on with it!  But there's too much to tell!  And you can't read a zillion word post, can you?

Wednesday, May 6:  I wanted to get an earlier start today to try to see several sights, plus my pals and I were thinking of going to a matinee at the Abbey Theatre, where Hedda Gabler was playing.  I decided to go to Dublin Castle first, mainly because hello, castle, but also since it was free on the first Wednesday of the month (woo hoo)!  I decided to play it by ear about the matinee.  Happily, Dublin Castle had wifi, probably so people can look at their app, but I could also use it to keep in touch with my pals about the matinee.

It was rainy and chilly when I left the apartment, so I was glad I opted to wear a turtleneck sweater and glad I remembered to take my scarf.  It was good to be so bundled up when I was outside.  To make sure I could see as much as possible, I decided to cab it over to the castle instead of walking or waiting for the bus.  Since it only took a few minutes by car, I could spend that time touring instead of traveling.  It was a stroke of luck that there was a taxi stand at the end of the street.

I was surprised the castle wasn't busier since it was free to tour the apartments, but I'm glad it wasn't.  It was nice to be able to look at the rooms at leisure without feeling hordes of people behind me.  I used the app and found it to be very useful - there was a lot of historical background about the castle that I could read now or later.  Although the original castle was built in the thirteenth century, most of what I was touring was done in the eighteenth century, after fires and reconstruction.  All of the rooms I toured were gorgeous, but I think my favorites were the Wedgwood Room and the Gothic Room.  You'll notice in my photos below that I have a strange obsession with ceilings and lighting fixtures...

After a lovely couple of hours touring the inside of the castle, I wandered outside to the Great Courtyard.  Unfortunately, I dropped my camera on the cobblestones, so bye bye camera.  I was able to get a few more shots out of it by holding the battery case closed, but I think it's time for a new camera.  I think about buying one all the time, so I guess this is the push I needed.  Anyway, back to Dublin Castle:  I was sorry to miss the Chapel and the Undercroft, but those were only available by guided tour and the guided tours didn't start until after the Abbey Theatre matinee, so that tour was out.  Oh well.  Next time.  I enjoyed wandering around outside the castle and seeing the blockwork up close.  I also went back into the garden which is the rumored starting spot of Dublin.  On the other side of the gardens is the Chester Beatty Library, named for the American collector of art and texts from many religions of the world.  The Library has free admission, but since I was getting close to the time I'd have to leave to get to the Abbey Theatre (I decided I needed to see the show, I mean, did I really think I wouldn't go?!), I at first thought I would skip it.  Then I saw the banner advertising their new exhibition Seven Treasures: Japanese Cloisonné Enamels.  Well, I love Japanese art and I love cloisonné!  So I had to run in and at least see that exhibit.

from the Beatty Library website
I'm ever so glad I did, it was GORGEOUS.  So many beautiful pieces from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  I was especially taken with a small plate that had a beautiful butterfly on it.  I also loved a vase that was done in the Delft style.  But really, everything was gorgeous.  And there were only 100 pieces or so in three small rooms of the Library, so I could see everything in that exhibit before running over to the Abbey Theatre.  I asked the gent at the information desk at the Library where I could get a cab.  He asked where I was going; when I said the Abbey Theatre, he told me it would be much easier (and faster) to walk and he gave me excellent directions.  Since I had a half hour to get there, I decided to take him up on his suggestion.

On my walk over to the Abbey, I picked up a sandwich since I hadn't eaten breakfast - I got a beautiful ham on baguette from a little French bakery.  It was delicious and just the right size.  I hope the Dubliners didn't think less of me as I ate it walking to the Abbey Theatre.  As the gent at the info desk said, this was a very nice walk and I got to the theater very quickly.  I hadn't been on this side of the River Liffey yet, so it was nice to see some of the other buildings my guidebooks had mentioned. 

I met one of my friends in front of the theater (my beautiful gal pal got caught up with work back in the States so she couldn't join us).  I was surprised the box office had so many tickets available for the matinee, I guess I assumed the show would be sold out.  They had plenty of tickets for us to choose from in all price ranges.  All of the tickets were really reasonably priced, so we chose some of the middle-range tickets.  We each bought a copy of the script in the lobby (only six pounds!  cheap!) and waited in the lobby with the Irish matinee ladies before heading up to our seats.  The building itself and the lobby are rather non-descript, which rather surprised me.  But when you walk upstairs, you see the history of the place.  There is red velvet and gilt and portraits of Irish greats - it was glorious.  Our seats were very nicely central and we settled in to enjoy the play.

At first, I was a little worried that the non-realistic set meant that the production would be odd and/or avant garde.  But it wasn't.  It was just a terrifically produced version of Hedda Gabler (with a new adaptation by Mark O'Rowe), probably the best I've ever seen.  All of the actors were fantastic, most especially the actor playing Tesman.  And the actor playing Judge Brack.  Ok, yes, ALL of the actors were superb.  The atmosphere of fear and repression was so well-constructed and everything was clear and honest.  The adaptation was really good, as was the direction.  I've seen the show several times and I'm usually so happy when the ending finally arrives (because I just want the annoying people to be dead), but I actually cried this time.  I was just really thrilled by the whole thing.  Oh, and I loved having tea at the 'interval.'  Very civilized.  And tasty!

I think I'll end here, since there's still a lot to come on this jam-packed Wednesday in Dublin!  Next time, fish & chips, whiskey and a visit to a building I didn't think I'd get to see!






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