Being, living again (oh so briefly this time) in this city where I had started a happy new life, this city that I once called home, pulled at the heartstrings for sure. Still, I couldn't get at it fast enough. I had but three days in Dublin; the rest of my time would be spent traveling the countryside. A delay checking in, a problem with my reservation, had me antsy. I wanted to be outside, walking, not standing at the reception desk sorting it out.
I'd known it long before setting off on this trip: I wanted to see, to touch it all with my eyes and with my feet. Forget sightseeing or shows or events or such. I just wanted to walk, all of my favorite walks--and there were many! This pretty much meant covering the map: Ringsend, Ballsbridge, Donnybrook; Temple Bar, Capel Street, Pearse; Trinity, Bewleys, Stephen's Green; Baggot Street, Mount Street, the Grand Canal. And of course I would visit my favorite park in Merrion Square--twice!
I'd been more than four years away; what of the Dublin I knew would remain, I wondered? For all I knew, everything had changed, and very little would be as I remembered it. To my surprise, much was just as I'd left it. Even more surprising was how it all came back: my brain map proved keen. I found myself anticipating a pub or a shortcut here, a shop or restaurant there just before coming upon it. Approaching the National Concert Hall, I remembered a rose garden nearby that I never did see in bloom. Though I'd only ever been to it once or twice, I followed my nose along the neighboring streets and walked right to it. This happened again and again. It amazed me how well I still knew Dublin, that the Dublin I knew remained.
It seemed nothing had faded from memory, perhaps least of all the Oriel Gallery. Like so many addresses I delighted to rediscover, I hadn't planned to look it up; I only remembered it, and affectionately so, as I turned the corner from the historic, very Georgian and comely Merrion Square onto Clare. I'm sure I smiled when I saw it, glowing like an ember--orange and black--in the city shadows, inviting as ever.
Seeing the Oriel was like finding an old friend. How many times in that year had we passed here on our way to and from the City Center? Tons! And usually without a moment to spare, rushing to meet friends or to make a film at the IFI. But whether or not my feet could pause, my eyes always did, to take in the striking showcased display of fine Irish art, especially the stunning Sandra Bell sculptures and the permanent stained glass window valance, my favorites.
No trip [to the Oriel] would be complete without taking the time to appreciate the stunning stained-glass windows adorning the gallery front by one of Northern Ireland's most famous painters, Markey Robinson.Agreed! These panels caught my attention at first glimpse. My American eyes found them unquestionably Irish, portraying a distinctly Irish story of a land, its people, and a life of passage and prevailing.
I did photograph The Oriel that Dublin year, but never the detail of the panels for some reason. This trip I remedied that. I wasn't sure what I would get. The light was not quite right. But I tried, and I am pleased to have succeeded. A favorite piece of Dublin would return with me in my pocket, along with all that had been rekindled in my heart.