DUBLIN, Ireland  

  Debra's Diary ~ July, 2008     After Dingle, we felt we were comfortable with Ireland, but Dublin was vastly different.   The Tourism Office is an old Anglican church, which was unusual - possibly unique in the world.  The CEO of Dublin Tourism, Frank Magee, was a delight to meet and his knowledge of his business was phenomenal - and he loves his work, that much is certain, and comes across in his interview.  Another delightful person we met was Pat Liddy, a well-known Irish historian and author and accomplished artist, who also clearly puts his heart and soul into informing anyone about his beloved Dublin.  He also conducts walking tours, which gave us a mutual interest right from the start.

The weather was not really with us; it spluttered with sunshine at intervals, but in general, it was grey skies and often rain - which makes filming hard.  And it was too expensive to just while away the afternoon in the pub, waiting for the weather to break! Our hotel was entirely staffed by foreigners - Dublin boasts of being home to many nationals, but somehow I had hoped to hear Irish voices - Eastern European I can get at home.  It was the same everywhere we went, the languages we heard being spoken all around us were not Irish. 

The good thing about Dublin is it's a capital city but compact enough to walk through most of it.  There's a lot of traffic, and I don't think I've ever seen so many municipal buses in a town before.  There were thousands of the blue and yellow double-deckers; everywhere and every day.  The River Liffey runs through the town, but I didn't get the impression that Dubliners were 'water' people - the river and the canals aren't really celebrated.  But the Irish sense of humour is legendary, and no-where was it more apparent than with their statues.  Every one has an irreverent nickname, with witty and often rude plays on words, and there are a lot of them, all over the city.  They laugh at themselves, and will poke fun at the visitor, but it never seems malicious.  

I was truly impressed with the relaxed attitude towards the English in general.  The self confidence of Dubliners makes them appear perfectly comfortable with our 'shared history', and they can talk openly about British occupation perhaps because they don't have it anymore.  I couldn't help but compare this attitude with Estonia; there the bitterness against the Russians was under the surface, never far away - but then, they've only had 17 years of freedom.  I identified with them, and secretly wondered how I would feel when I visited somewhere where the English had been the occupiers.  But the Dubliners didn't seem to care, and I could breathe easily immediately.  Perhaps they are too busy looking to the future to be looking back at the past; you certainly get that impression.  The city is booming; new development everywhere and apparently a high standard of living for everyone - and we are tourists, after all.

I thoroughly enjoyed the WW2 amphibious vehicle (DUKW) tour - it was such fun, and although my throat hurt at the end of it from make Viking roars, it was worth it.  Lynn 'The Red' was awesome and witty and really made the tour fun with interesting tit-bits and irreverent asides, and I liked being a Viking.  (Does this say something about me, I wonder?)  I also enjoyed our side-trips to Malahide, Howth and Dun Laohaire.  It was a very pleasant walk through parkland to the lovely pocket castle at Malahide.  This fortified house is packed with antiques and artifacts of daily life and had been in the Talbot family for 800 years. I loved the atmosphere of the house, and the wooden panelling was spectacular - but then I love dark wood, and you had the feeling it had darkened to such a rich hue over the centuries from studious polishing with beeswax perhaps.  It made you want to touch it - an impulse I have to strenuously control in museums and places that are strictly hands-off.  I also enjoyed the model railway - I have a secret longing to have my own.  The sea food at Howth was unbelievably good, and any stroll along the promenade of a seaside resort can always make me smile.  It was all so close, and I think we could have made a separate programme about just Dublin Bay.

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