This post is part of a series detailing my trip to Ireland. You can view the whole series here.
We left Galway early in the morning and drove to the monastery at Clonmacnoise. Although it is now in ruins, Clonmacnoise was an active monastery and pilgrimage site from 600-1600.
After a quick tour in the freezing rain, we piled back into the warmth of the bus for the drive to Dublin. There, I finally got to see the play I have been desperately wanting to see ever since I first read it 6 years ago – Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman.
To make the evening even better, I met up with my friend Kat at the theatre, since she had flown over from Scotland to spend a few days in Dublin with me.
The Pillowman was everything I had hoped it would be and more (which is saying something, since my expectations were very, very high). The actors were phenomenal, the set was well designed, and the costumes were on point. I loved it.
And did I mention that we had front-row seats?
After the play, we took the freshmen to the historic Shelburne Hotel (the 1922 Irish Constitution was drafted in room 112) for a discussion of the play.
The next morning we visited the Book of Kells at Trinity College and took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol, where 14 men were executed for their roles in the Easter Rising in 1916. These executions – and the stories around them – turned the tide of public opinion toward the Republican cause, and led to the election of 73 Sinn Féin party members to Parliament in 1918 and their subsequent formation of the Dáil (an independent Irish Parliament).
The rest of the afternoon was free, so Kat and I wandered around Dublin to catch up and enjoy the weather.
That night was another play, Death of a Comedian by contemporary playwright Owen McCafferty. The play was shown at the Peacock stage, which is the blackbox theatre associated with the historic Abbey Theatre.
From a production standpoint, the show was excellent. The sets were minimal, creative, and well-executed, the lighting and sound effects were spot on, and all 3 actors were talented and well-cast. The script, however, left something to be desired. The play started strong, but felt unfinished. As Dean Killen put it, there was thesis, antithesis…but no synthesis.
The next morning, on my last full day in Ireland, I met Kat for breakfast. As always, the time went by too quickly.
At noon, I met up with the rest of the group for a quick trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a drive out to Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin, to visit Joyce’s Martello tower, where the first chapter of Ulysses is set and where we read out loud the first chapter of Ulysses.
We spent the afternoon and evening in Dalkey, before returning to Dublin for our last night.
It was hard to feel good about waking up on my last day in Ireland, but wake up I had to. After one last Irish breakfast of fried eggs, baked beans, and grilled tomato, it was time to load the baggage onto the bus for the trip to the airport.
Once we arrived, it was a long series of lines – To check in. To get through security. To get through USA pre-check. To get through customs. To board the plane.
To fly home.
My tour of Ireland was complete.