“I’m going to The Irish Writers’ Centre. It’s at 19 Parnell Square.”
“Oh right, yeah,” the cabbie replies with something that makes me think that he is actually interested in where I’m going. He’s not bored.
A bicyclist cuts in front of him and he honks. The cyclist glares back even though he is clearly at fault.
“They’re not really cyclists, you know. They’re just people on bikes.” The cabbie says it with a smile. The streets are filled with men in kilts and I ask him if he knows when the soccer game starts.
“Five it is. So don’t be out near the stadium then – it’ll be mad.”
He drops me off just behind a Paddy Wagon tour bus.
“It’ll be just up ahead there in front of the buses. You’ll be grand.”
I walk into the reception room of The Irish Writers’ Centre where I am greeted by my friend, Helen. She makes me a cup of tea that I have with cookies. I take a chair and start talking to a young woman from Austin, Texas who is getting her masters in writing at Trinity College. Of course she loves everything about Dublin. We are both members of a writing group called Inkslingers. We Inkslingers meet every Saturday at 1:00 for writing and conversation.
Once all twenty or so of us are gathered around a long, oval table upstairs, Harry reads a prompt to inspire us to write something that will make our readers see the world in a new way – or maybe just get little glimpses into the world of the writer. Today’s encouragement is,”I know her. She’s the trouble maker from Rathmines!” I immediately think of the mean old lady who makes all the trouble in Waking Ned Divine. And the one in Brooklyn. (Why are there so many mean old Irish ladies in movies and literature? It’s just not fair!)
After half an hour of writing, each one of us reads what we’ve written. I wasn’t inspired today, so when it is my turn I just read my blog post on Glasnevin Cemetery. As I finish, the group bursts into applause. The first time that I read aloud in front of the group, I was really nervous and intimidated, but after a few weeks and a lot of positive feedback, I really like it now. And the applause part of the whole thing is just so much fun. For someone who doesn’t like attention, I really like the attention! I’m encouraged to think that I may not become a trouble maker in my old age.
I’m amazed every week by the people and the stories that they write in just thirty minutes. Some are beautiful, some are sad, but most are hilarious. Today as an added treat, Julie plays the guitar and sings a song that she’s written. Her voice and the song are beautiful.
Afterwards the group heads over to Candy Cafe just across the street for cappuccinos, compliments, and more conversation. This is Ireland after all. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say, “I think I’ll just head home.”
Later as I am walking back into town, I stop in to see what’s happening at Grogan’s. As I walk up to the bar, I hear an old timer say to man next to him, “Look at the gams on that one.” I smile to myself, and think ‘only in Grogan’s’…
Helen texts me to meet her at Trinity College. It’s dark as we walk from the college over to Hodges Figgis, my favorite book store in the city. By the front door is a display for The Wisdom of Groundhog Day: How to Improve Your Life One Day at a Time, written by the screenwriter of the movie. I want it immediately. A man comes over to chat us up. He asks us if we remember the song on Phil’s alarm radio. And of course we do – it’s “I’ve Got You, Babe”. He seems happy that we know this.
Next, Helen and I head over to Tower Records. She gets The Joshua Tree on vinyl. We both cannot believe that it’s been thirty years. (My favorite song on the album is “In God’s Country” and my sources tell me that Bono’s favorite is “Running to Stand Still”.) I get Rum Sodomy and the Lash by The Pogues on vinyl. Helen tells me that “pog” is the Irish word for “kiss”.
We wander over to Peter’s Pub. The owner started working in his father’s pub when he was five. I’m hoping he wasn’t pouring pints at that age. He chats us up as he delivers our ham and cheese toasties and our pints.
We walk down Grafton Street to take in the humans of Dublin. We meet up with our friend Ramona who is also a member of Inkslingers. (Ramona is from Croatia and her parents named her after their favorite band The Ramones.) We stop in at The Oak for Irish coffees made by the one and only Tom Shine.
As we’re talking and laughing, Helen, Ramona, and I discover that we all own the box set of Gilmore Girls. I’m happy that something so American connects the three of us. It seems to me that all of us are connected by the universal love of friendship, conversation, music, creating, discovering, and…a round of applause after a job well done.