The trip to Ireland began last summer, as the germ of an idea inspired by my good friend, Sarah. When I heard of her plans to spend a year studying abroad in Northern Ireland, I decided, some how, some way, to visit her.
We met in Dublin, after the saintly Sarah suffered a 4am bus ride down from her home away from home in Londonderry. In the topmost thumbnail, you see us on the rooftop gardens of the Chester Beatty library. I couldn’t resist returning to spend more time on the galleries that my parents and I blew through in an hour. In the secular book collection, Sarah and I giggled over gems like, “The Dunking of the Slave,” and “He carries his lover on his back as they elope through a field of grass.”
For lunch, Sarah introduced me to The Fumbally, an organic food cafe with decor that deserves no other name but “hipster”: wooden tables crammed in alongside sofas, vintage posters and photographs in mismatched frames adorning the wall.
We savored our meals: salad sampler for Sarah and grilled salmon in herb broth for me, plus artisan bread and the most savory hummus that I have ever tasted. At the door, a hand-lettered sign invited us to take home a bunch of flowering garlic.
Alas, while admiring the church, we fell foul of Irish weather: dark clouds thickened into rain and then hailstones! We pretended to find cover under a few tree branches, laughing helplessly as the skies pelted us with ice. Finally, Sarah noticed a band of light at the far edge of the sky; we dashed off in pursuit of fairer weather.
Sights from around Dublin:
The above photo doesn’t do justice to the endless curls of flowers, water, and green, dotted with benches and pleasant places where one can sit and admire this arboreal haven in the midst of a concrete city. A less sightly visitor disturbed our repose, however: a mangled pigeon that lurked nearby in hopes of coaxing crumbs from us. Sarah, whose heart is much softer than mine, composed the following poem for the persistent little beast during her bus ride home:
Ode to a PigeonKittie and I, we sat there, we twoTalking of our days of old.When all of a sudden we heard a coo,And there crept a pigeon so bold!He slinked and he hopped on uneven feet,Until he came right to our side.He was such a bird as you never did see,And he Kittie could not abide.His feathers were rakish and dirty,His beak was quite sadly askew.He looked cast-off and unworthyTo be part of the pigeonly crew.It was clear he’d been picked on and prodded.And must have succumbed in the fightEven though he had been defraudedOf his own territorial rights.Yet he rested there calmly, so sweet and forlornI was glad that he should there stay.And the big bully pigeons just couldn’t be borne,So I promptly shooed them away.We said ‘take care’ when we had to go,Then we got up and went on our way,Dear thing, he began to follow, but no,“No dear, you really must stay.”