It seemed like only yesterday I swore that there was no way I would board another long flight before the annual migration to Nova Scotia at the end of May. Yet, here I am, recuperating from the effects of another long-distance journey back to Europe. This time, it was Dublin and London calling, with a loud whisper from Hong Kong, a visit with a son I hadn’t seen in ages and the chance to meet his wife and the new baby.

I will not admit how long it has been since my last trip to Ireland. Suffice it to say that the country was even poorer then than it is now. There were no flash cars careening around the countryside. The nearest anyone could get to a BMW was Germany. I was hitch hiking around the island, which seemed to be something of a novelty at the time.

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I had a cute French girlfriend, and even with my scruffy appearance, it was dead easy getting a ride. Going anywhere was another matter altogether. I remember one tractor driver in particular. “I’ll be going as far as the next village. It’s only a mile, mind you, but you’re welcome to a ride on the wagon. Don’t mind the smell. You won’t notice it after awhile.”

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During the long, dark nights we spent in London last year, we watched some excellent BBC documentaries on a very small, but sharp television set. One that impressed me with its research and visuals was about bronze-age Britain. Some of the finest artifacts came from Ireland, thanks to that wonderfully effective preservative– the bog. Guinness is only a runner up, preserving many Irish livers but little else. Many of the early celtic artifacts are held at the National Museum of Ireland’s history and archeology building on Kildare Street.

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Then there is the Book of Kells, a major attraction in the wonderful Long Room at Trinity College. And the astonishing collection of Chester Beatty, a mining engineer from New York who did very well for himself, turning a collection of snuff bottles into a priceless collection of ancient manuscripts from all the most important world religions.

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We were staying at O’Callaghan’s, a lovely old hotel that used to be a bank. Not a block away was Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde sprawls on a rock with unseemly ease, starring at the bottom of Lord Douglas while his pregnant wife, Constance glares at him reproachfully over her shoulder. A short walk away is St. Stephen’s Green, the wonderful bust of James Joyce, a statue of W.B Yeats, among many other artworks.

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While my spouse attended to her business in Dublin, I carried on the duties of a museum-loving tourist, hitting the National Gallery of Art, a photographic archive, as well as a Trinity College, a few bridges across the Liffey, and, of course, several restaurants and pubs.

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It is hard to tread the streets of Dublin without seeing it through the rich filter of literature. Trinity College conjured up my early days in Paris, when I stumbled across a copy of “The Ginger Man” at Shakespeare and Company. J.P. Donleavy’s antic tale of Sebastian Dangerfield’s messy married life and endless battles with his creditors still holds up.

“You hear them downstairs when Marion’s out to shop, knocking hard on the door. And it can’t stand it. And they never stop the damn knocking and some try to push it in. O the fear of them coming up and me naked, my dignity wilts and it’s a poor enough weapon defending debts…. Marion not standing up to it very well….Mousy blonde hair, hanging over her head like sauerkraut. Silence got her. If she breaks a blood vessel, the doctors and expense will be something terrible.”

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A bonus for me was the chance to catch up with an old friend from L.A., his mom and aunt, for drinks and dinner, as well as an invite from a former colleague of my wife, now Governor of the Bank of Ireland. Needless to say, he has a rather nice office. Fortunately, I had my cameras along.

Stay tuned, We’re off to Connamara.

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