Home for the holidays


The bank holiday weekend was the business.
Saturday involved a rehearsal for an upcoming showbiz extravaganza. On June 16th I will be dressing in Edwardian costume and reading from ‘Ulysses’ in Dun Laoghaire. It’s part of the Bloomsday festival – the day on which Dublin celebrates James Joyce’s most famous book. Accompanying me will be a singer and some musicians. The plan is simple. A selection of songs linked to Ulysses or Joyce will be performed. Before each begins, a passage from the book which shares a theme with the song will be read. As my singing voice resembles what a cat in a blender might sound like, I have been chosen as the reader.

One of the musicians lives on a barge on the Grand Canal in County Kildare. To Kildare I travelled. In the glorious summer sunshine we sat, and recited Joyce’s prose, and sang our songs. I felt like a right hippy, getting back to nature. All that was missing was a herbal fog. After our rehearsal we quaffed some cans by the waterside. Wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday I went to Bloom – the garden festival held on an annual basis in the Phoenix Park. I do not possess a garden. I have a concrete balcony. I also have a lethal ability to kill plants. They expire when they come into my vicinity. I know of no other person who could murder a cactus. Despite this I enjoy spending time in the company of plants – just so long as they are not dependent on me for their survival. What a pleasant event – despite the over-abundance of children in attendance. Beautiful show gardens and food halls dishing out free samples of their wares. And a beer hall. Guess where I ended the evening?

Monday was also a holiday so I decided to be proactive and to do something cultural. The existence of this blog has been a godsend to me in terms of forcing me to actively seek out things to write about. Left to my own devices I could easily spend the weekend festering in my own idleness. That’s hardly interesting to read about however. So I feel duty bound to try to explore new locations in town.

For Monday it was a visit to Dublin Castle. Dublin Castle is a vast complex of buildings which I have visited several times previously. I’ve never been to the State Apartments however – the home of the viceroy to the king of England, when Ireland was occupied by Britain. The guided tour also included a visit to the excavated foundations of the original Viking Castle and the Royal Chapel. The Apartments themselves were completely over the top in terms of luxury.

I was more interested in our tour guide however. I won’t give his name, away but television viewers in both Britain and Ireland may recognise him; and theatre goers in Ireland might have seen him on stage earlier this year. That’s the acting life for you – you’ve got to be prepared to supplement your income with other work between jobs. A most engaging guide he was too.

After my encounter with fame and Dublin Castle I strolled over to Christchurch Cathedral for a nose around. This iconic church is a landmark in Dublin. Thanks to my militant atheism (or perhaps just laziness) I had never been. Upon entrance I immediately headed for the crypt. Loitering around a dungeon in the sweltering summer heat is a sure-fire way of cooling down.

It was an interesting place to explore; in the manner in which ancient churches can be. More thrilling however, was the choir singing in the main of the church. I may not believe in a god, but there was something soaring and uplifting about the sound of that singing.

All told a pleasant weekend holidaying at home.

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