14.04.2015 - 24.04.2015 55 °F
According to Wikipedia: Molly Malone" (also known as "Cockles and Mussels" or "In Dublin's Fair City") is a popular song, set in Dublin, Ireland, which has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin City.
The song tells the fictional tale of a fishmonger who plied her trade on the streets of Dublin, but who died young, of a fever. In the late 20th century a legend grew up that there was a historical Molly, who lived in the 17th century. She is typically represented as a hawker by day and part-time prostitute by night. In contrast she has also been portrayed as one of the few chaste female street-hawkers of her day. However, there is no evidence that the song is based on a real woman, of the 17th century or at any other time. The name "Molly" originated as a familiar version of the names Mary and Margaret. While many such "Molly" Malones were born in Dublin over the centuries, no evidence connects any of them to the events in the song.
Molly Malone is a quintessential Dubliner theme. Its history wrapped in fantasy, shellacked in rumors and wives-tales that have evolved into something that the population identifies with.
So in dedication of the Molly Malone idea, I set to write my own 'Ulysses'. To get into the proper writing mood we enjoy a nice traditional Irish lunch at Sheehan's, an older establishment serving traditional Irish food between Grafton Street and the Temple Bar area.
First we enjoy vegetable soup, chicken sandwiches, fish and chips and, of course, a pint of Guinness. In the background traditional Irish music is playing and the decor is warm Victorian color tones.
I tried to imagine James Joyce eating and drinking something similar whilst he wrote parts of 'Ulysseus'. Not far from us the house from his book 'The Dead' and Dublin center is marked with reminders of characters from Ulysses having "stood here".
I am hoping this blog entry will be so wonderful that it will make Joyce's Ulysses seem like, well, the great piece of literature it is because my blog writing won't compare and you'll long to read great literature! lol
But I'm going to try and harness the spirits of the numerous great writers and poets that have come through Dublin to study, drink and (more importantly) be inspired.
Dublin is a surprise to me. Much more beautiful and sexy than I had ever thought. Sexy in that way the spirit of Dublin wraps her arms around you and breathes the sultry, dangerous history into your ear. A history so filled with numerous ingredients that it becomes the kind of soup you could enjoy over and over again.
Yesterday we hiked along the coastal cliffs along the Irish Sea and eventually up to a cross at the top of a hill. The golden blooms of gorse, a thorny bush that smells of coconut, is all around us which force us to declare, "Yes, we did indeed find the pot of gold we were seeking!" The gold of the flowers against the lush green grass set under blue skies conveys a beauty that intoxicates, that makes you kiss and gulp the air into your lungs so that all you see would become part of you.
Is Springtime in Ireland a crucial ingredient that inspired and influenced so much great English language literature? We were somewhere between Greystones and Bray and yet Dublin is only a short 20 minute train ride away and to Trinity College, one of the oldest universities in all of western Europe
It was at Trinity, a few days before, where we talked about 'Time Travel Tourism'. Andrea and I talked about 'Time Travel Tourism', the yet-to-happen marketing phrase that would draw future travelers with the promise of amazing travel opportunities via time travel.
For centuries, writers, artists and scientists studied here including Oscar Wilde (who lived just around the corner), James Joyce, Bram Stoker and several other illustrious writers and poets of which many of us had read and studied in high school and college.
Students passed before us along the very same path that those greats had done in the past. I turned to Andrea and said, " Who knows? Maybe some future great writer, poet, world-changer is walking past us right now. Perhaps in the distant future, people will be able to go back in time and actually see a young, unknown Oscar Wilde or Samuel Becket walking down this path?" Of course time-travel tourism stipulates that you can't be seen or heard or in any way allowed to affect time. You would just be able to observer, like an unseen ghost, any historical place and time you like.
Dublin has an incredibly rich literary legacy and most of the best known writers and poets works made it into my high school curriculum back in San Mateo. I remember reading James Joyce's 'The Dead' and 'Dubliners' and now I see the red brick building where 'The Dead' was based. We get to see Oscar Wilde's home and toured the amazing 'Book of Kells', a richly designed series of biblical books from the 7th Century.
We also toured the must-see 'Long Room' located above the Kells area. Here many great artists, writers, poets an playwrights spent hours conjuring up myths and stories for hungry readers around the world. Even the great Orson Welles traveled to here. The 'Long Room' is probably the quintessential library and is so thoroughly inspiring that I couldn't wait to sit down somewhere and start to write, which is rare for me.
Also located in the heart of Dublin is the free National Library which was having an exhibition on W.B. Yeats. I had used some of Yeat's words in a past cinepoem so I was interested in learning more about him. The exhibit is excellent, very fresh and interactive with the entire exhibit area lit as if in a quiet, dimly lit library. Yeats is a curious person in real life and some of his view were highly controversial. Afterwards, Andrea and I talked about the nature of separating the 'Art' from 'The Author'. I probably would have disliked Yeats the person immensely but his writings are poignant and truthful. One learns quite a bit about many things and people in an exhibit like this and one of the interesting aspects of Yeats' life is that his wife introduced him to 'automatic writing'. I realize the haphazard way of writing for this blog might seem like automatic writing but I have employed the method on a few past cin(e)-poems.
Dublin is also filled with sorrowful and painful historical points. There is a stunning sculpture about the 'Great Famine of the 1800's' and we saw a famine ship that somehow traveled between Ireland and Canada during that brutal period. There is a Peru connection with the Irish famine. Peruvians had over 40 varieties of potatoes growing in their country. This was advantageous whenever a disease hit a particular variety, the people could still depend on the other types for sustenance.
When the Irish came, they took back only one variety to Ireland and hence were put in desperate situation when the disease hit that one type of potato. Nonetheless the great migration to the Americas by the Irish is now an important part of American history. But much more of the pain of the Irish was to come with uprisings against British rule that were put down quite harshly involving numerous deaths. The 1916 Easter Uprising was bloody and violent but eventually paved the way for Ireland to obtain its own independence at a great cost. U2's 'Sunday Bloody Sunday ' is about the more recent 1972 massacre of Irish protestors by British troops. Having learned much about Irish history, I can understand better Bono's need to repeat "How long, how long must we sing this song?" over and over again.
Also, Dublin was once mostly a ghetto filled with the wretched poor and a place that Lord Wellington (defeater of Napoleon) refused to acknowledge as his birthplace, has become a truly great international city of culture, history and burgeoning technology.
Now Dublin is a very walkable city and everywhere I see a mishmash of architectural styles that give the city a unique patchwork-quilt vibe to it. Everywhere too is a fine pub that draws you in and keeps you there until you've written that great novel or passed-out dead drunk.
We visit several free museums and see numerous exhibitions. The Museum of Modern Art is 'interesting' with the highlight being the adjacent formal gardens. The museum was once a hospital and if I were ever sick, this would be the kind of hospital I would go to.
A True Story
While strolling through the former hospital gardens, a little boy (peeking through some bushes) says sheepishly to me in his little Irish boy voice, "hellloooo tough guuyyy." His voice was small but distinctly Irish and I repeated his words back to him. Then his little sister, I surmised
not content to play alone yelled, "Come on Danny!" In the distant background we could here someone playing the bagpipes. High above us in the centuries old trees the birds where chirping gently as if singing, "Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling...."
Did you know you could walk through the heart of Dublin, covered in coconut oil, like a freshly plugged gorse, with pistachio and oreo gelato on your tongue and have a chance encounter?
Dublin is a chance encounter. Take one step in either direction and you could miss her. But the Fates guide you to meet as if two cherry blossoms on the opposite ends of the tree fall simultaneously and are carried by different breezes to touch for a moment in midair before falling to the ground.
So as we were walking Andrea has a chance encounter with her friend Joan from San Francisco who is the middle of a wedding procession that started in St. Steven's Green park en route to the church. Neither one planned to meet this way but it happened as if the Fates intended it all the way as some reward for some long forgotten good you had done before.
I liked Dublin more than I thought I would. To see her in reality is to find her as open and adventurous as the stories of Joyce or the plays of Shaw and Beckett. The sexy sweet style of Dublin is perhaps something Oscar Wilde tried to emulate. Perhaps Oscar tried to become like Dublin herself and in the process found his real sexuality and evoked it courageously like those who gave up their lives in the quest for freedom of Ireland from the British.
To walk the streets of Dublin is to trod on the worn out brick cobblestone streets. Worn smooth and shiny by the thousands who sought inspiration from the things they see or from the glass they drink. Who knows how many great writers ended their careers here simply because they got lost in the inspiration of the beckoning glass that awaited them on the candlelit tables in any pub.
If you walk around Dublin enough you'll find that all roads lead to Molly Malone. Because like Molly, Dublin has an inscrutable nature to her. A mystery wrapped in complexity. A frothy mixture of historical fact and unquenchable fantasy. The true story of Molly is forever and unknown but the populace embraces her like a mother, sister a lover, a tramp, an urban goddess that pushes and pulls at the concocted moral centers of your soul.
Yes all roads lead to Molly Malone in your heart and in your mind and therein lies the essence of Dublin.