On Saturday as Dublin sweltered, it was straw hats and sunshades for The Bloomsday Garden Party at Aras an Uachtaran, where everyone got a warm welcome from President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina. There were bands playing as everyone mingled and chatted and strolled around the magnificent gardens, with plenty of entertainment as we lolled under shady parasols.
Then it was full afternoon tea served in the marquee on the lawn as we listened to Joycean inspired opera and readings including a brilliant section of Ulysses read by the president’s wife Sabina. There was more poetry, prose and music with the President joining in with a poem of his own. The Stunning set everyone’s feet hopping before heading back outside.
Afterwards we dallied listening to some mellow jazz in that most beautiful of gardens.
What a swell summer party!!
Hans Zimmer concert
Sunny Dublin was at its very best this week and I was over the moon to get along to the Hans Zimmer concert in the 3 Arena.
Zimmer is an extraordinary composer who creates such mood and atmosphere and tells story with his music and film scores. He talked about his work, the directors he has worked with, and the inspiration for many of his projects. He and his incredible musicians, orchestra and choir gave us everything from Gladiator to The Lion King, and Batman to Interstellar. A packed audience of all ages gave a well- deserved standing ovation to one of the greatest composers of modern times.
On Bloomsday itself I was at ‘The Dalkey Book Festival’ where in the Big Marquee overlooking the water, North Korean writer Hyeonseo Lee talked with Michael Breen about the difficulties of growing up in North Korea. She talked candidly about her family and the day to life they lived under a harsh regime where everyone is under suspicion and watched. A wonderful writer and speaker she explained to the large crowd about the title of her book, ‘The Girl with Seven Names’- which is how she has somehow managed to try to protect herself and her relations from the regime as she escaped to China and eventually to South Korea.
The national famine way walkers crossing the gangplank.
Well done to The National Famine Way Walkers led by Caroilin Callery who completed their 150km long journey from Strokestown Park House to Dublin’s Eden Quay on Thursday 1st June. They were walking to commemorate the 1490 evicted tenants of Strokestown Park House, who were being sent by their landlord on assisted passage to Canada in late May 1847.
These men, women and children led by the bailiff and his men followed the path of The Royal Canal as they walked all the long way to Dublin. Although tired and exhausted, I’m sure hope and excitement must have filled their hearts as they saw the River Liffey and boarded the ships that would take them to Liverpool. From there the group would begin the long sea voyage across theAtlantic to Canada.
Many already weak would not survive the poor conditions at sea; others on their arrival in Quebec would die in the crowded fever sheds of Grosse Isle. For those that survived, Canada offered an opportunity for new life, a new beginning and a freedom that they had not known before as they began to settle and create a new life away from Ireland.
The national famine way walkers in Dublin City.
As the walkers appeared wearing famine costume and crossed Dublin’s busy city street a hush fell among all of us gathered to greet them.
They walked slowly along the cobbles by Rowan Gillespie’s haunting bronze famine figures, real and imagined mingling, as they continued on to the Jeanie Johnson ship which is moored nearby on Spencer Dock on the quays. Crossing the gangplank on to the ship some gave a small wave as one by one they boarded. Their faces and movements symbolised all those that must have boarded such ships during the dark days of the Great Irish Famine.
Watching them it felt like the ghosts of the 1,490 had returned to Dublin and walked our streets once more.
Thank you to everyone involved for bringing this important part of our history to life