Today I met a girl from Dubuque, Iowa. I’ve never met anyone from Dubuque before. She tells me that Dubuque is on the Mississippi River and just two hours from Chicago, so she tells everyone here in Dublin that she’s from Chicago. It’s just easier. She’s here studying psychology at a college in Dun Laoghaire which is a pretty seaside town just south of Dublin. And like all of the other Americans that I have met here, she adores Ireland.
Today I talked to my yoga teacher Aisling before class started – she asks me how my week is going. She wonders if I have “seen it all” by now. I tell her that I most certainly have not, but I am happy to report that I did get to visit Trim and its castle earlier this week…
Trim is a quiet little town on the River Boyne that is just thirty miles northwest of Dublin. It is famous for its still stunning ruins of what once was the biggest Norman castle in Ireland, Trim Castle. My friend and I drove to Trim and then spent the day there. We started out by walking around the grounds and then up the stairs to the keep of the castle. We eavesdropped on a tour – it seems that everything about the castle was designed for defense. Ingeniously, even the water in the moat was a deterrent as it was diverted from a leper colony! And because it’s cold, gray, and misty today, I can almost imagine what it would have been like to live here in the castle without heat or ventilation, or a sewage system, or Netflix. Life here in the Dark Ages was brutal and short.
I’ve seen quite a few castles here and there, but this is my favorite…for several reasons. In its hay day 800 years ago it sat at the edge of “the Pale” which was the English-controlled territory. Once English rule shriveled to just the area around Dublin, the lands farther west were referred to as “beyond the Pale”. (This is one of my favorite expressions – it came in pretty handy when I was a teacher – and it’s fun to be at the very spot where it is quite literally beyond the Pale.)
And just like almost everything that I love in Ireland, I realize once again that I’m not alone. Mel Gibson loved Trim Castle too. So much so that he used it in the filming of Braveheart, one of my all-time favorites. Mel’s character William Wallace meets the French princess in her tent in the fields where I was standing with Trim Castle appearing in the background.
Today I bought three hyacinthus blue pearl bulbs that were sitting on the steps in front of PowersCourt.
Today I saw La La Land at the Irish Film Institute. I loved it. (What can I say about Ryan Gosling that you don’t already know?)
Today I read an article on the Bronte sisters and a new BBC drama based on their lives called To Walk Invisible. It reminds me that Emily, Charlotte, and Anne decided to publish their work out of desperation because they had so few options. (They hated being governesses and teachers!) It made me feel so lucky to be alive now.
Today I went into the Oxfam bookstore on Parliament Street and bought a book on the entire series of Sex and the City. The Bronte sisters and Carrie Bradshaw – it seems that girls who like to write are calling to me.
And finally today I remembered teaching the life story of Eleanor Roosevelt to my seventh grade students. Eleanor wrote a newspaper column called “My Day”. She wrote that there was never a day when she could fit in everything that she wanted to do. She said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” I think I agree with her.