E. M. Forster had the right idea – no matter where you are, get the room with a view. I’ve had several apartments in Dublin that I’ve rented through airbnb, and each one has had a view that will stay with me always. My first rented apartment was for the month of July 2014, and it was just below street level in a beautiful Georgian house with a red door which was just across the street from Windmill Lane Studios, also known as U2 studio. From my front window I looked out to see the studio’s famous walls of graffiti – words and art from fans from around the world to the musicians they love and adore. Bono, the Edge, Larry, and Adam recorded Boy, War, and The Joshua Tree here. Kate Bush partially recorded her 1985 album Hounds of Love at Windmill Lane Studios, and fittingly, the soundtrack for A Room With a View, one of my most favorite movies, was recorded here as well. It made me happy to think of so many of my best-loved musicians making music across the street from my place.
And I’m also happy that I took photos because on April 3, 2015, just eight months later, the studio was demolished, and only a twenty meter section of the graffiti wall has been kept. Hmmm…what to do with the wall? One possibility is donating the wall to a charity so that they can auction pieces of it to U2 fans around the world. Whatever happens to the actual wall, the fantastic images of the graffiti will always remind me of the many wonderful adventures that I had that July living on Creighton Street just near Windmill Lane.
I returned to Dublin in the winter and had a sixth floor apartment next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The view was stunning. From above I could see the street, the park next to the cathedral, and the spires of the cathedral itself. The ringing of the bells every hour (even at four in the morning), the cries of the seagulls, the black, bare limbs of the trees set against the white and gray clouds – they all rooted me to Dublin.
Today the cathedral is an Anglican church, museum, cemetery and war memorial all wrapped up in one architectural marvel. Originally built by the Normans from 1190 until 1220, the cathedral has a long and complex history. I learned that the St. Patrick’s choir school is the oldest school in the country and every morning at nine o’clock, the boys sing. Two choirs sing every Sunday. I’m going to have to go back for more of that.
I spent two months, one in June and one in November, looking at the view from my most recent apartment on Castle Street. The clouds and the light changed minute by minute. And I was happy to think that there was a castle in my backyard. It seems that while a lot of people were building a cathedral on one end of town, a lot of other people were building Dublin castle just down the block, as the castle was largely completed by 1230. The castle and the complex of buildings is a tourist attraction now, and yet I had never gone in to visit until a few days before I left.
I think it’s like that for everyone – you sometimes neglect the things that you see every day as they become mundane. Yes, even a castle can wax mundane when you’re in Ireland.
And so it appears that I have compiled a list of world-famous symbols of music, religion, architecture, and defense against invaders – the views from my rooms amazingly depict the story of Dublin.