I tried to make my last day in Dublin as literary as possible – the bits not spent traveling back from Galway, at least. I finally found a decently priced copy of Joyce’s Dubliners and an assembly of Wilde’s more political works. This happened within a few minutes of my return to Dublin, a city that seems enormously grimier after having spent a day in Galway and another on Inis MÃ³r.
Books in hand, I wandered to Merrion Square. Beside the grotesque statue of Oscar Wilde in one corner, I read his Ballad of Reading Gaol. As an appreciator of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I saw the many thematic and poetic semblances. That said, I think Coleridge’s theological position – based on the virtue of appreciating all living creatures – is rather more promising that Wilde’s despairing hope that God will set it all right in the end. God as a balancer of worldly injustices is very appealing, since it saves us from the need to ever fight for our beliefs, insofar as that means forcing them on others. When we no longer have that conceptual crutch, difference becomes much harder to deal with. In any case, I had to use my hostel earplugs to reduce the strain from a massive throng of talkative Spanish tourists on my ability to appreciate this most sonic poem acoustically.
I had dinner at a place called Cornocopia, on Wicklow Street, recommended as an all-vegetarian restaurant. I had a kind of sweet potato curry dish and their red pepper soup, both dishes I was likely to appreciate, but found both uninspiring. The service was curt, bordering on sharp, and the general atmosphere was one of hasty expulsion for the milking of new customers. Vegetarians in Dublin should steer clear; try Gruel, on Dame Street, instead.
After dinner, I read half of Dubliners on the grounds of Trinity before attending quite an excellent performance of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at the Player’s Theatre, within that campus. It was an emphatic, emotive, and effective production. P.J. Dunlevy was especially effective as the bald-headed and over-emphatic Pozzo. At several points, he struck the exact expression of the despairing mayor from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I had never seen the play before, but the interplay between Vladimir and Estragon reminded me both of the drama of Steinbeck and Tom Stoppard.
All told, it was a worthwhile day of additions to my Dublin set of memories. I might be able to squeeze one quick final visit in before my bus to the airport tomorrow, but that depends somewhat on my ability to fight of the demons of sleeplessness for another morning.
I should be back in Oxford late tomorrow.