Saturday, November 11, 2017

Finbar Visits Ireland, Part 1: Dublin

Finbar is a toad. He accompanied me on my 2016 trip to Ireland and graciously posed for many photographs. Finbar usually hangs out on my desk at work, among the plants, and as I was closing up shop on the last day before this three-week trip, he jumped into my bag to demonstrate how easily he could travel. He squishes to almost flat in any bag, he's quiet, and therefore can sneak into any Irish tourist destination. Finbar was a nameless toad when we set out for this trip, but would acquire an Irish name in Dublin. More on that event below....
A nameless toad helps me pack for Ireland
On the turnpike to the airport on a stormy day in July
We made it to Newark Airport safely, but our plane was delayed.

In Dublin

Nameless Toad surveys the menu at Bobo's in Dublin. We would eat a lot of burgers these three weeks.

The trip to Dublin was a requirement for my MFA writing program. A group of twenty-or-so of us were to stay at Trinity College in the center of Dublin to learn about the location, its history, and its literary importance. Nameless Toad and I flew from Newark Airport to Dublin with Kathy, a fellow Creative Nonfiction writer and student who would graduate this year. The three of us arrived at Trinity via taxi ride with the most friendly driver ever. Our rooms weren't ready yet, so we stashed our bags on campus and went exploring in the Trinity neighborhood. We had lunch at Bobo's and shopped at Carroll's where I would later buy a box full of fun souvenirs, including an Aran sweater, and have it all shipped back to New Jersey.

Even the extra small sweater is too big for a toad.
After a few hours of weary wandering, we were allowed into our rooms. These were single dorm rooms, comfortable but small, and I would share the facilities with two other students new to the program. We had a nice window at treetop level, and the Toad found his favorite spot here.
Nameless Toad looks for flies

Through this window we would hear the sounds of nearby Grafton Street at night, revelers, singers, and buskers including an electric guitarist who played famous guitar solos of the 1970s and 1980s. Some nights we would hear the rain on the leaves just outside. It rained every day in Ireland, I think, even if only for a short shower. Carry your rain jacket or umbrella always.

Every morning we'd have breakfast at The Buttery on campus, scones and yogurt mostly,

There's a toad eyeing my Irish scone
and then we'd be off for lectures, workshops, excursions, and general exploration.
Waiting for the seminar to start
Preparing for workshop where our work would be scrutinized
The little Nameless Toad finds Trinity College on the map
Everyday, we monitored the line to get into the Old Library to see the Book of Kells.
One day we found a short line and went inside to view the Book of Kells and the Long Room. Chills!
In the evening, we would listen to the presentations of the graduating students, attend (or speak at) an Open Mic, or experience the literary life of Dublin at a Faculty Reading in an old bookstore or a play at the famous Abbey Theater.
Nameless Toad listens to the graduates
The little toad listens to me read about Prague at the Open Mic event
Our group + a toad attended a play called "The Wake" at the Abbey Theater.
I don't attend many plays without music, and the toad doesn't attend many plays at all, so this was a special event. The title refers to a gathering after a death, not the wavy water in back of a fast-moving boat. In this play, there was a memorable character, actually a goofy but lovable  guy, whose name was FINBAR! And that is where the Nameless Toad picked up his Irish name.

We did some other exploration of the city of Dublin:

Finbar at the City Hall Arch
Stephen's Green was our favorite grassy spot.
Finbar found a great spot to perch on the Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square Park.
Later, I learned about that Wilde statue and all of the exotic materials used:

We even got to attend a hurling match at Croke Stadium in Dublin. Neither of us can say we understand the game, but it was fun!
Before exporations further afield, we'd better do some laundry at the college laundromat.
  Finbar Visits Ireland, Part 2

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