Day 12 – Sat 07 May 2005 – ….From Swerve of Shore…

Actually, the above title ‘… from swerve of shore..’ is the opening line from James Joyce’s impenetrable novel Finnegans Wake, but his earlier work Ulysses (quite the best novel I’ve ever read) begins at the tower above the Forty Foot Pool just south of Dun Laoghaire. Possibly named after the 42nd Regiment of Foot who were once based there, it used to be a ‘for men only’ pool, but the women’s movement apparently put an end to that. Anyway it is a Martello tower (as is the tower at Fort Denison in Sydney, one of the last built) and there are many of them along the Irish coast dating from the Napoleonic era.

The tower (mid-centre) above the Forty Foot Pool south of Dun Laoghaire

During my morning walk I was very impressed to watch a big catamaran ferry arrive. It came into the harbour at full tilt, spun around 180 degrees and parked its arse very neatly onto the terminal in a single smooth maneuver. Impressed also by the lifeboat service; all volunteer and probably the closest thing in spirit in the British Isles to Australian rural fire brigades. They do a harbour safety check prior to the arrival of each ferry and I saw (or mostly heard) a late night emergency response complete with flares being fired.

An arriving ferry spinning around at speed to dock its stern into the terminal.

In Dublin for the day. Spent most of my time at the Irish National Museum. Not all that large, but it has a very comprehensive display of Irish history, although a bit ‘light’ around the 1500-1800 period. Beautiful displays of stone age and bronze age tools and items. Some of the bronze and gold work is absolutely magnificent. Some pottery, although ancient, is beautifully made.

A busy Dublin street

The big question; is ‘In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty’ accurate? Well, I’d have to say ‘yes’. They’re a little more made up than their country cousins, but still look ‘natural’. Most are pleasantly attractive, but there are definitely many who are real ‘drop deads’. One of the most head-turning was a guide at the museum, an ultra hot and seriously smart, strawberry blonde.

More of the River Liffey

For the James Joyce tragics you can actually do a ‘Ulysses Walk’ through Dublin and environs. Ulysses is based on the events that occur to its characters over a single day. It’s an astounding novel in which, in some ways, nothing really happens, yet all aspects of the human condition are deeply explored. Much of it is written as a ‘stream of consciousness’, simply recording everything that flicks into the mind of the person involved, including every silly associated thought triggered in the process. It’s a masterpiece and well worth the (sometimes considerable) effort of reading.

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