Dona and Joe’s European Vacation, Episode 7: From Dublin to Edinburgh

The play, and dinner, were both stellar. If you go to Dublin do give Featherblade a try. It’s an unassuming place that doesn’t try to please the tourists. It’s all about the food, which is probably why there’s only two items on the entrée menu on any particular night. And don’t skimp on the sides, which are as excellent as the entrees.

The play was a black comedy called Cyprus Avenue, by David Ireland. It’s an award-winning allegory that deals with Northern Irish Unionism taken to the extreme. Granted, most Americans don’t give a hoot about Irish politics, but if you know anything about the history of the virtual civil war in Northern Ireland, you’d love this play. Even if you don’t know anything about those times you might like it. From line one it was a riveting study of how hatred justifies itself. Since I don’t think many of you will get to see it (although it will be in New York this summer), I’ll provide a spoiler: the main character, Eric, is a life-long Unionist, whose hatred of Catholics brings on a delusion that his infant granddaughter is Irish Republican leader Gerry Adams incarnate, and culminates in his murdering his wife, daughter, and granddaughter in order to keep his family, and Ulster, pure. It’s the kind of play that’s politically incorrect in the extreme in order to make its point, and therefore is rarely seen in America. That’s a thing I’ve noticed in Ireland—there’s a compulsion here among the people to voice displeasure with history and the status quo, as though it means they are still fighting the revolution against England that was won almost a hundred years ago. The attitude was neatly summed up in a quote from U2’s Bono on one of the walls of the Little Museum of Dublin: “In America you look up at the mansion on the hill and say, ‘One day that could be me.’ In Ireland they look up at the mansion on the hill and go, ‘One day I’m gonna get that bastard.’”

And as of this writing we’ve made it to Edinburgh and the Glasshouse Hotel, and Joe has imbibed a traditional Scotch whisky (so please excuse any alcohol-related typos). So many people have told us how great the city is that we’re already lamenting that we’re only staying two days. There’s history everywhere around us and we can’t wait to get out there and explore. For tonight, though, the best we can do is continue to debate the proper pronunciation of this city’s name, which we have assuredly butchered as everything from “Edinburg” to “Edinburr.”