One of the things we like most about Ireland is what its people cherish. In the great nations and empires throughout history, it’s been primarily the military heroes and statesmen who are best remembered. Occasionally a spiritual leader sneaks into the pantheon. But here, it’s the writers who share as prominent a place in public memory as anyone. There are a few patriots in the mix, of course, but as Ireland has never had what you could call a strong military presence in the world, the people have turned to those who did have an impact internationally. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, Brendan Behan, and so many others are still revered. What is perhaps more interesting, as we learned on the Dublin Rogues Tour in Merrion Square Park today, is that many of Ireland’s statesmen, patriots, and reformers were also excellent writers, who produced poetry, fiction, and philosophy.
Not that it got them anywhere, though. Many of Ireland’s greatest writers left the isle, some never to return, because the market here was too small and they simply couldn’t make a living at their craft. Add to that the Catholic Church’s influence, which caused many of their books to be banned for profanity or blasphemy.
There’s a lot more to the individual stories, so if you’re in the neighborhood, look up the tour. It’s a quick hour of history and humor, with a few surprises thrown in.
So Day 15 of our trip, and I believe I’ve finally found Dona’s limit. Until today she’s been pushing to spend every hour of every day exploring our host cities, to the tune of 15,000 to 20,000-plus steps a day (her phone has a step counter app). Today, though, she ran out of gas in the afternoon, after the tour (which was outside in a hard and cold wind), and the National Gallery of Ireland. She tried to add a shopping excursion to Grafton Street, but we got caught in an unpredicted downpour, and that was that. We are currently resting up before dinner.
Tomorrow is Galway. We’re looking forward to seeing the Irish countryside on the way, and then experiencing this little city on the west coast. That you can take a train from coast to coast in two hours is, to us, remarkable. Head out for two hours from our home in the states and you can make it to Seattle.
– Dona and Joe