Before I Break
It’s been a while since I last posted, as I’ve been busy focusing my energies on other pursuits. As of this past weekend, assignments, field trips, and other class-related duties were flying at me thick and fast, all needing to be squeezed in under the deadline of this Friday, which marks the half-way point of the semester. More excitingly, it also marks the beginning of UCD’s Spring Break. And, as of about thirty minutes ago when I hit “send” on the my final assignment, I am officially free. Tomorrow morning, I take off for a seven-day jaunt about the Netherlands and Denmark, from which I will return to Dublin just in time to celebrate the most sacred of Irish national holidays: St. Patrick’s Day. More on all of that to come. For now, given that it’s been a while and I’ve had too many days to describe in full, I thought I’d resort to a list for some of the highlights of my life over the past week or so.
First off, though I’ve only been away America for a matter of months, I am now a full convert to the way of Fish n’ Chips. And, in Dublin, there’s no better place to score a heaping pile of the battered goodness than Leo Burdock’s. First established as an over-the-counter takeaway spot near Christchuch in the heart of the city, Burdock’s has since expanded into almost a dozen bustling locations around Ireland—and with good reason. Their fish is always fresh and excellent, they don’t shy away from large portion sizes, and they’ll load you up with tasty salt and vinegar toppings free of charge. If anyone wishes to experience Fish n’ Chip’s in the truest Irish fashion, Leo’s is your spot.
Next up, I recently had the pleasure of seeing The Bonny Men live in concert not once, but twice in the same night. Established in 2011, they are one of Ireland’s youngest and most exciting traditional music bands. I was lucky enough to score a free copy of their new CD, Moyne Road, at their release party in a church on St. Stephen’s Green in City Centre. There, in front of family, friends, and fans, they played the record live from front to back over the course of an hour or so. And let me tell you, they put on one hell of a show. Then, as if I couldn’t get enough, the band picked up their instruments and made the trek up to the back room of Cobblestone Pub, a favorite stomping ground of mine that has come up a number of times in my posts. There, they gave a lively show that got every person in the crowd up off their feet and onto the dance floor to stomp and clap the night away. Even if Irish traditional music isn’t your thing (and I can hardly say it’s mine), these guys are a great way to introduce yourself to it, and their new record is an absolute treasure. If I’m not mistaken, it should be available on the American iTunes store, so have a look if you’re interested.
Also last week, I took another solo-wander across the Liffey and discovered a slew of great new spots. The first was The Hugh Lane Gallery, a free public art museum that houses a wide variety of fine works. In the back of the building, there is a recreation of Irish-born artist Francis Bacon’s studio, which is littered with broken canvases, spilled paint, torn-up newspapers, and more. Bacon, a quirky man to his very core, claimed he needed the mess in order to properly invoke his creativity, and it was quite the sight to behold. A few blocks away is the James Joyce Centre, which has a small entrance fee but is absolutely worth the price if you, like me, have even a smidgeon of a literary knack. Joyce was quite simply one of the most influential and innovative writers not only in Ireland but in the entire world, and his greatest work, Ulysses, is undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of modern literature. The Centre is a great place to kill a couple hours learning about his life and works, watch a documentary on his impact within Ireland and abroad, or buy any of his books, all of which are available in the shop on the first floor. And, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop into the 147 Deli for lunch. I scored an incredible cheesesteak sandwich there and decided to eat al fresco on a sunny bench in the nearby Remembrance Garden, which sits across from the Hugh Lane and commemorates all those who lost their lives in the fight for Irish independence. The few hours I spent there topped off a truly fantastic day. By the way, all of the locations in this little section are in the area of Parnell Square, if you’re interested in recreating the highly enjoyable day I had therein.
Well, that’s all for now. As I said, I’m off on a two-week break from school. It’s crazy to think that I’m already halfway through with my academic semester… But, instead of dwelling on that, I’ve decided to focus on the many adventures that lie ahead, and I’m pretty excited. I promise I will come back with plenty of stories to tell. Stay tuned.