The answer, is both, of course. Until late 2014, we lived not more than a 35 minute bicycle ride form Dublin, CA. But despite the preponderance of golf in Ireland, I have never set foot on the Emerald Isle. My Father was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Does that count for anything?
Well, the Dublin in Ireland is the largest city in Ireland, with about 1.3 million people. And I hear they talk rather funny. Over the years, I have played golf with many Irish golfers, in Portugal, Spain, and in the U.S.
Wouldn’t you know it, I can blame the Scandinavians, in particular, the Vikings, who established a settlement after the Norman Invasion. It expanded to become the second largest city in the British Isles until the partition in 1922. Dublin became the capital of the Free Irish State, later to be named, Ireland.
I will fast forward to modern times, leaving you to read about Irish history in your outdated history books or flawed googled internet information. The only to things Irish, besides St. Patrick’s Day, that I know are the Guinness Brewery, and the famous Templebar.
The only damper to all of this revelry might be that Ireland was hit rather hard by the last economic meltdown, and is still recovering. Guinness has been brewed here since 1759, in the St. James Gate Brewery. Ireland was also a well known tax haven back in the Nineties, or so I am told.
For me, Dublinbikes is their bike sharing program, which I plan to use as my major form of transportation. They have about 60,000 subscribers, and over 5,000 bicycles. About 6% of Dubliners cycle to work on a daily commute.
But, Dublin is really known for its literary prowess through history. Some are the Nobel laureates, Beckett, Shaw, and Yeats. Others are merely influential, like Swift, Wile, and Joyce. More recent writers include Doyle, O’Casey, Behan, Binchey, and Synge. It must be something in the water?
You would know that nightlife is BIG here, with 50% of the population under the age of 25!! The best area is of course, right about the Temple Bar area. It has also been called overpriced, dirty, and disappointing. So what! It is a place to have a drink, like Raffles Hotel in Singapore for a Singapore Sling, or the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco for an Irish coffee.
More on this and other important Irish lore tomorrow. I learned quite a bit. Bruce Springsteen likes to perform here. His friend, Bono showed up on his last night in the city. Of course, they say Bono will attend any opening, including an envelope. And Dublin’s most famous resident, Molly Malone has a statue in front of a church. Jonathan Swift was dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral for 32 years in the 18th century.
Worse yet, my dear friend, Beth, suggested I visit the National Gallery to see their famous Caravaggio, master of chiaroscuro and dramatic lighting. They told me it is over in London at their National Gallery!! And I missed the famous Book of Kells in the old Trinity Library. It is a 1200 year old version of the gospels of the Bible. But I did see Trinity College, founded in 1592 by QE I to establish a Protestant way of thinking about God. Women were not admitted until 1903.
But I love all of the shopping arcades since there is a bar on every corner. They tell me the big recession in 2008 here reduced the number of pubs in Dublin to
only 900! And the Temple Bar area is still fun, though they have many more bars than temples.
I love the stories about James Joyce, writing Ulysses here. And the many famous writers, like George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and George Costanza. Even Georg Friedrich Handel wrote the Messiah while living not far from the Temple Bar area.
Local folklore abounds. They say having just one drink goes like this. I buy a round, you buy a round, and we have another for the road. The pubs are full of performers, starting around noon each day. Notice I say performers, not singers. All Irish people try to sing and dance regardless of skill level.
They are a friendly bunch here. You must visit sometime soon.