Waterford’s looking well in the sunshine with the refurbished quays now most attractive. Much of the through traffic is now being diverted away from the town by the new bridge and all is set fair for when commerce in general picks up. No one at Energie Fitness wants to meet me so now they’ve lost the chance. Eleanor and Dave are in Spain therefore a pub crawl is in order. Katty Barry’s, Alfie Hale’s and Jordan’s are all quiet though it is a midweek evening. At the final port of call I’m greeted by a ‘long time no see’ as if I’d been drinking around the corner these last six months. I like Waterford.
Onto Dublin on the 11am train, a journey I know well. At the Maldron Hotel, Cardiff Lane I hook up with old friend Sue, a journalist and running colleague from Jersey who’s spent the last few days with a friend in Raheny. A nice stroll through a strangely quiet Merrion Square and St Stephen’s Green, finishing with coffee at the historic Bewley’s on Grafton Street. After coaching at Irishtown (separate post) it’s a few beers at Mulligan’s which proves to be the only busy pub I drink in all trip. Finally a smashing Lebanese meal at old favourite the Cedar Tree.
Friday we resolve on a bit of walking – I’ve now recovered from Monday’s marathon; enough anyway to walk! However we start by getting the Luas to Heuston and walk through the grounds of the Royal Hospital to Kilmainham Gaol. It’s the fourth (I think) visit for me but the first for Sue. The tour is always fascinating and each guide puts their own spin on it so that you learn new things every time. Unchanged however is the final scene in the Stonebreakers’ Yard where 14 of the 16 executions of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising took place – that of James Connolly being at the opposite end to the others as he was unable to walk to the far wall. As so often history shows the Brits in a sorry light as Irish public opinion was heavily weighted against the rebellion at the time and only the callous and boneheaded executions swung the mood irreversibly in favour of the nationalists.
A stroll through the generally-ignored War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge then over to inspect the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park. The wild deer are today sadly only dots on the western edge of the park. The Tea Rooms are as welcome as ever before we push on to another rarely visited Dublin landmark. The remains of the 1916 martyrs lie at rest at Arbour Hill Cemetery behind Collins Barracks. Despite the historical significance of the place they remain undisturbed with only a few local dog-walkers and the odd discerning visitor to be seen. No open-top bus tours come by here.
A bit of shopping before resting our weary feet. Then early evening I lead the pilgrimage to Ringsend and The Yacht and The Oarsman. I never saw the former so empty on a Friday and in neither establishment am I recognised; huh guys, I kept you in business for 18 months a while back! And after Saturday coaching it’s the lunchtime flight back to Jersey.
A memorable week for me – I wonder when, or if, I’ll be back?