Ireland day 0104. Monday 10 January 2022- Vermeer
It’s not every day that an Old Master catches you by surprise and looks you in the eye. But that did indeed happen to us today.
The morning was spent on the phone keeping up with friends in the UK, then while Val was out on a run, I made some progress on the car. I discovered that the licence documents for the ancient Yaris were indeed applied for three weeks ago but the office which issues replacements is still apparently shut. Still, I have managed to identify a possible alternative in Limerick so if the other one hasn’t materialised in a week or so, we may take the Limerick option. Assuming it hasn’t been sold by then, of course. Patience is a virtue!
Once the morning’s tasks were discharged, Val pulled together a remarkably brilliant brunch (Irish bacon is just SO delicious) then we beat the well-trodden path down to the railway station and back into Dublin.
On the hastily-convened no 11 bus journey to Farmer Brown’s yesterday, we had passed through Dublin 2 – which is apparently one of the smarter suburbs of Dublin. As we whizzed through, somewhat bewildered by the speed of our passage – we had spotted a number of well known landmarks along the route, including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Shelbourne Hotel, and the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. All looked fascinating so we decided that today we’d head down to the Gallery and then radiate out from there to see what the rest of Dublin 2 had to offer.
One of the good things about being in a tourist destination in the middle of January in the middle of a pandemic is – there are no tourists. And I have to say we were slightly blown away by the Gallery today. There was nobody there, just us and a few security guards. (Although to be fair a few more visitors did show up later on). I can normally take or leave art galleries but today’s was a bit of an exception because I really liked it. For a start the pictures did actually look like pictures – there was no overtly modern art which sometimes I find difficult to distinguish from its surroundings. Especially if it is things like piles of bricks or unmade beds. I had no such difficulty today however, and the paintings were almost without exception, spectacular.
And even if you didn’t like the art, you couldn’t help but feeling at ease in the gallery itself. It’s a really nice, interesting, gallery, beautifully modernised and split over several levels. It was a restful, tranquil sort of place – quiet and perfectly lit – and I felt as if I could probably quite comfortably move in and set up home there. Sadly I could however foresee a few practical difficulties with that plan though.
At this point, we made a surprise encounter with a woman writing a letter – or should that be A Woman Writing A Letter – an original painting by Johannes Vermeer and it is so good it really does stand out from the rest. You can see why Vermeer was called a “Grand Master”. We had no idea that it was there, and discovering it by chance made the day extra-memorable. You can read all about the chequered recent history of the painting in the caption below.
We spent a couple more hours looking around then avoided the seductions of the shop on the way out, and headed up to St Stephen’s Green, via the Government Buildings. It’s all in a very smart part of Dublin – the most attractive we’ve visited so far, actually, and we particularly liked the idea of lunch at the rather splendid Shelbourne Hotel right on the Green itself. I haven’t dared look at the prices though, and I suspect it might be one of those things you reserve for a Very Special Occasion. Almost next door, though, is the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology – equally enticing but with the merit of being free. We duly took note and started planning when we might pay a call.
By this time it was almost dark so we headed down to King Street for some late afternoon refreshment near the charming-looking Gaiety Theatre. Suitably revived, we wandered down Grafton St and looked at all the smart shops (think a smaller version of Regent St in London) and just had time to say hello to Molly Malone before beating a path to Connolly station and a swift journey back to Malahide. Molly will have to feature in a later blog, though, because I am running out of time and energy to write about her here.
So now the only challenge remaining for today is to make my website work. If you are reading this, you can assume that I have succeeded in overcoming last night’s bugs, or at least managed to effect a temporary fix. Fingers crossed!
Today’s photos (click to enlarge)