Saturday morning August 24,at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin, Joan and I made friends during Irish breakfast(stewed tomatoes, yogurt, sausages, ham slices, potatoes, eggs, bread, apples, cereal, coffee buffet style) with a number of people from our tour: C-I-E Tours International.
We walked to a nearby park across the street from Oscar Wilde’s Apartment clearly marked for tourists with a bizarrely dressed mannequin posing as Oscar strewn out on a blanket with muffler around his Irish hatted head, a fake glass of wine, and bottle next to him. Patriotic fully decked out military officers and soldiers performed a drill in honor of fallen soldiers of the IRA at a memorial inside the park that drew a large crowd and was led by a most serious faced muscular immaculate leader whose features looked carved in stone. His spit-shined shoes glittered in the sun, medals flashed, staccato orders shot out barked loudly as if everyone was under the threat of a military siege that these men would never allow, or die willingly to prevent. They honored the fallen Irish in all their wars at a pyramidal structure-the epitome of a shrine to the fallen patriots of the past.
Near an ecological exhibit in the park we noticed a statue of a female with harp, many large black and white magpies scooting from place to place and gliding around until settled on the green freshly mowed grass or in a tree rustling leaves until perched. More statues appeared in the relaxed atmosphere of the park away from the military ritualistic shouting and marching that returned every hour, stopping traffic on the boulevard next to the entrance and calling attention to the ceremony with drill sargents passing out literature while the commander stood every ready to explode into action, like Liam Neeson or Colin Farrell.
The Museum of Natural History beckoned us through brick walls and more pristine landscaping, green lawns and huge trees.Stuffed Irish animals filled the glass exhibit scenes with magpies, deer, and giant deer antlers that were larger than any I had ever seen anywhere. Many fish were displayed along with a variety of animals found in Ireland.
The Art Museum featured many classic paintings including Sir John Lavery’s we bought on 3x5 post cards:one of him in the background painting his wife and children, goat herding in a birch forest, and his Lady seated with dark hair. Back at the hotel we slept for a few hours after leaving a message for Vince Lavery, a friend we met long ago in Fresno who ran for a political office and gave us his green Lavery political bumper sticker we proudly displayed while working in Bakersfield in1973.
He returned our call, and joined us for dinner at the hotel and a play we invited him to join us for George Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara”at the famous Abbey Theatre. Walking there Vincent gave us his unique opinion of Dublin and street walking tour that filled us with historical references, and interesting vistas we would otherwise have missed too many to mention here.The play had spectacular effects, moving parts from the ceiling and walls changed the scene from a castle to a drawing room and then a canon leveled a pretend shot in minutes to the gasps of the audience and our amazement. The shell burst with a crash!
The protagonist was a female Salvation Army Major, the daughter of a wealthy arms merchant. Shaw treated us to the tremendous conflict that a Christian woman devoted to peaceful resolution of disputes and opposed to arms sales and use, had with her father who argued that to preserve democracy we need the most advanced weapons to ensure its survival. She had fallen in love with a dull Greek scholar who was also an idealist.
Meanwhile the community that made the arms represented an advance for civilization rather than a decline, as they had earned a good living manufacturing arms,raised wages for all, and built churches, schools, and provided the most progress for their children and the surrounding community including music, drama, choirs,and everything cultural. The millionaire arms merchant was brilliant, handsome, and a persuasive speaker that challenged his daughter repeatedly regarding her pacifism in the face of real military opposition from dictatorships and fascists determined to destroy civilization and its artifacts. In the end, after 3 ½ hours, she succumbed to his view realizing the challenges to democracy were indeed evil and powerful and could not be moved by prayers alone.She joined his enterprise realizing there was nothing immoral about protecting our civilization from vandals.
Vincent took us by a metal statue that had a bullet through the breast of a Black woman, discussed his politics while in Fresno, anti-Vietnam War views, showed us the statue of Cuchulainn, and love of Ireland and its history.
He doesn’t eat meat but smokes cigarettes and said the Lavery clan is from northern Ireland especially Belfast. Agreed many years ago some French people with the surname LaVerée came to northern Ireland as mine did,and settled there after and during the Norman invasion.Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes is “mularkey” as being over-the-top in exaggerations according to the Irish.