Ireland day 0077. Tuesday 14 December 2021- Market

Ireland day 0077. Tuesday 14 December 2021- Market
Today’s summary Went into Dublin after an late breakfast, to visit the Christmas market in the castle courtyard.   Had a quick look at the State Apartments as well, did a bit of shopping then returned to Malahide so I could go to last Spanish class of 2021 in evening
Today’s weather Cool, bright and sunny,  no rain, no wind,   About 8C
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Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click top button to download a GPX of the afternoon walk to the market (in black on the map) and the bottom button to download the walk to college- in red):
Dublin castle market
College last Spanish of 2021

Commentary

Ireland has an abundance of castles and other ancient relics, mostly built up for defensive purposes over the last ten or eleven centuries.   Nowadays, the castles are being put to good use the length and breadth of the country – though at the moment for rather more mercenary than military purposes, it seems.

We already know that Malahide castle is hosting a fabulous sound and light show – because that’s where Val is working at the moment.   And readers will also remember that I have visited Swords Castle not once but twice recently (though one of the visits was a bit of a damp squib, it has to be said), and explored the small- but perfectly formed – Christmas market that it’s hosting at the moment.

So today it was time to explore what I suppose is the grand-daddy of all Christmas markets – in Dublin castle.   It’s so grand in fact that you have to book timed slots for your visit.   We booked for 2pm and duly rocked up, along with about a thousand others, for our allotted appointment and headed into the courtyard.

The market itself, I have to be honest, was OK but that’s probably about as far as I would go.   Lots of stalls selling soap, honey, knitwear and art prints – the sort of stuff you could probably expect to find at Christmas markets the world over.   It was a bit hard to find anything genuinely original and interesting.   And, being Ireland, it was all eye-wateringly expensive.   So we had a quick scoot round and picked up a couple of smaller items that we could actually afford, then retreated to the State Apartments – which adjoin the courtyard and which, being OPW, are free at the moment.   I’d looked round the Apartments on the morning after I dropped Val off at the docks, a few weeks ago, but she hadn’t seen them and we both enjoyed having a good look round today.

After checking out Queen Victoria’s throne, we beat a hasty retreat from the market, before we did any serious wallet-damage, and scooted round to the back of the castle for a late lunch (which we brought with us, in view if the cost of eating out!) in the Dubh Linn garden.   This is a sublime gem of a retreat – nice and quiet, and beautifully laid out.   It’s right by the Chester Beatty art gallery, which is highly recommended and which we plan to visit shortly.

(By the way if you were wondering where the name “Dublin” comes from, the clue is in the name in of the garden – “Dubh Linn”, which in Irish Gaelic means “Black Pool”.   So, yes, Dublin is in fact Blackpool).

Lunch swiftly and economically despatched, we walked over to O’Connell Street to do a bit of Christmas shopping – always a treat to look forward to – then got a quick train home.  This evening, after a delicious dinner which Val seemingly managed to knock together out of nothing, I packed by books and walked down to Portmarnock for the last Spanish lesson of the year.   My reflection on returning home this evening after the lesson is that learning stuff is a heck of a lot easier when you are young, so if you are under the age of forty when you are reading this, my advice to you would be to learn as much possibly can now.  Because once you get as old as me to get anything to stick in your brain you almost literally have to force it in with a hammer.

Anyway, with that image in mind, “Feliz Navidad!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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I thought it was important to make sure that readers’ knowledge of the Irish rail system was kept up-to-date.   We were fortunate enough to get this peek into the cab of the Enterprise shuttle train to Belfast as we left Connolly station this afternoon.   Rail enthusiasts, of whom I know there are many reading this blog, will realise that this is a Driving Van Trailer unit, with the motive power being at the other, Belfast, end of the train.   Fabulous. O’Connell street looking bright, cheerful and busy this lunchtime
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Here we are, also looking brigh(ish), cheerful and busy this lunchtime Checking out the market in the castle courtyard
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In the Throne Room of the State Apartments.   It is absolutely gigantic – and when Queen Victoria visited, being small she apparently struggled actually to get into it Somewhat graphic shop sign outside a butchers’ in Talbot St
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St Andrews Church on the way to Portmarnock college this evening.   Jupiter poised beautifully over the eaves
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