More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Dublin

What can I say that hasn't been said many times over? Such an exciting city, offering a plethora of choice for the traveller. Our main aim was to make sure everything was in place for our September knitters' tour, but we wanted to soak up some of the unique atmosphere of the city too. We left York at midday and by six o'clock were settled into Brooks, our hotel in the heart of Dublin.  Quick freshen up and we were out on the town.
York Station - love the curve.
First stop was supper at Fallon & Byrne, the bustling foodie restaurant and food hall just round the corner from our hotel. As we climbed the stairs to the restaurant, we had a bird's-eye view of the food hall and made a note to come back in the morning to take a closer look at all those seductively tempting shelves.
Fallon & Byrne Food Hall
Our meal was just what we needed to get us up and running for the evening - roast plum tomato soup,  fettucine with summer squash, spinach and ricotta, then P had a deliciously wicked sweet which I passed on but probably ate half of, all accompanied by a fresh and fruity bottle of white - perfect!
As we were leaving I noticed all the bikes lined up outside - what a great idea, think we could do with a bike hire scheme in York too.
We wanted to spend our first evening at a traditional Irish music session. Although Dublin is a maelstrom of music, that turned out to be more difficult than we'd imagined. Wherever you look on the streets you have music shops, buskers, pubs with music coming out of every orifice.
Not-so portable hammered dulcimer on Grafton Street
The grey men
Group of young buskers trying their luck
But we found that nearly all of the music in the pubs was a performance rather than a session. No problem if you want to sit and soak up the spirit but I had my spoons in my pocket. P had done some homework and discovered that the best session in Dublin was at the Cobblestone Bar. So we quickly hailed a cab and ten minutes later were sitting in the packed bar of said pub, which by now had a whole bevy of musicians already holding forth.
Guitar, banjo, accordian, tin whistle, flute, fiddles, spoons, uilleann pipes and more, jigs, reels and song. The Guinness was ordered and we settled in to a fabulous evening of traditional music.
We were a bit worse for wear the next morning, but still up bright and breezy as there was so much to do. 
After a hearty breakfast we were off on our travels, revisiting the beautiful St Georges Arcade further up our street, where there are stalls selling everything from food, art and flowers to retro and vintage clothes, jewellery and hairdressing - I particularly enjoyed the architecture and the little jewellers on the corner.

A quick wander to get our bearings, with me gravitating to Avoca, where there's lots of colourful handmade inspiration, both yarny and readymade.
Pounding the pavements is thirsty work, so our next stop was coffee in Bewley's on Grafton Street, built in 1927 with wonderful stained glass, orientalism and arts and crafts fittings.  The coffee's not bad either.

As we were leaving I noticed this disk to Bob Geldof displayed behind a busker - any Boomtown Rats fans out there?

This Is Knit
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting This Is Knit again.  This is Dublin's yarn mecca, where knitters of all ages and abilities are warmly welcomed by owners Jacqui and Lisa. I'll be doing a workshop there on the tour, so it was great to meet with my assistant, the delightful Maria, who also works in the shop.  Maria is gathering together some local knitters for us to knit with in the bar one evening at Brooks. We'll also be dropping into the Dublin Knit Collective which meets just around the corner.
Another was the Guinness Storehouse, where you take the tour and end up in the amazing bar at the top of the building with panoramic 360 degree views across the whole of Dublin to the Wicklow hills.

Panoramic views over the city from the top of the Guinness Storehouse
Wandering around the city took ages, as we came across so many interesting little distractions - from graffiti and quirky quotations to the very different statues of Oscar Wilde and Charles Parnell, Ireland's uncrowned king.
Charles Parnell, uncrowned King of Ireland
Oscar Wilde in Merrion Park
Yeats quotation



Joyce quote at the top in the shadows
In the evenings the street are thronging with people, all eager to get the best craic. Temple Bar is reputedly where it's at, and all life is definitely there, with restaurants of every persuasion, and themed Irish music for all tastes. But there's also hidden gems in quieter parts of the city, all within a stone's throw, where you can sit and people-watch, especially around six o'clock when the locals are finishing work and calling in for a pint before going home.
Temple Bar
Stag's Head, lovely old pub frequented by locals
I decided I couldn't bear to go to Kilmainham Gaol. I'd heard the moving story about the 9-year-old girl who was sentenced to a year's hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread and decided that it would be too emotionally gruelling. So P set off alone on the hop-on, hop-off bus to visit the gaol, intimately linked to the struggle for Irish independence.
The plaque in the exercise yard where the
1916 Easter Rising rebels were executed
Part of Francis Bacon's studio
Meanwhile I went along to the Hugh Lane modern art gallery, where amongst other gems, Francis Bacon's Studio can be viewed in all its glory.  If nothing else it certainly made me feel better about my own workspace!

Can't finish without showing you a couple of pics of the mighty Trinity College, home to The Book of Kells - a must-see  and fabulous inspiration for knitted cables. 
All too soon we were making our way back to the airport, with just enough time for a last glass of Guinness in the snug at Kehoe's.
Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to going back next month to share the experience with guests on our knitters' tour. I warn you though, Ireland is addictive!

4 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your bringing Dublin to your blog. I was just playing mandolin at a gig yesterday, along to John singing with the words' Grafton Street (in the song Raglan Road), while wondering truly , the meaning of this tune. THen voila, you post this . Perfect ! Oh, the bustle of the music, and the yarn (they just go so naturally together, as I continue to knit at breaks between sets) and well.... the coup de grace though, I must admit, Is your photo of the Yeats' quote : "Don't wait to strike until the fire is hot, but make the fire hot by striking" !!! Okay! Thank you... I must run with this (perhaps with my 5th Yeat's inspired composition?). Thanks again xx

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    1. Thanks Jen. If you look carefully at the other pic of the Bachelor Inn, on the right is a verse from Raglan Road x

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  2. Have not seen so many lovely photos of Dublin and thoroughly enjoyed the sightseeing trip with you. A city I would love to visit sometime as it seems to have as much to see as London does without so many crowds. Lovely thank you Jean

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  3. Thank you for this post.
    I'm planning a visit to Dublin and love your good advise and links:-)

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