Happy New Year. I'm back from Dublin and my jet lag/lingering hangover has cleared. For those of you who follow Gaelic football, you’ll be excited to know that the undefeated Crossmaglen Rangers filled Delta flight 160. Since I was unfamiliar with the sport, the player seated next to me said it was like soccer, but you can use your hands. Maybe like rugby? They were on their way to Orlando to celebrate at Disneyworld.
Speaking of theme parks, I was surprised how Dublin (endlessly pedestrian and cleaned up due to techboom money) was not a prepackaged luck-of-the-Irish E-ticket ride. Sure there were gift shops with woolly sweaters, tour buses, and a Molly Malone statue, but the city seemed to be used by its resident “Dubs.” I wandered as much of the city as I could possibly traverse on foot.
The area around the Grand Canal, the district that’s seen the bulk of rapid development, especially struck me: lots of not bad modern lofts and office buildings. U2 is planning a tower and Libeskind is signed up for a performing arts center. The checkerboard hotel by Portuguese architect Aires Mateus & Associados (project architect McCauley Daye O'Connell) wasn’t open, but looked pretty cool. The strangest thing about this area is how placeless the architecture felt. Modern buildings that could be anywhere: San Jose, South of Market, or Chelsea. My favorite moments were where the new construction bumped up against the old making strange juxtapositions between crumbling warehouses and cheery glass facades.
The city’s rich literary past is inescapable. Statues and historical plaques of Joyce, Wilde, Yeats, Stoker, and Beckett are everywhere. It seems that Beckett has followed me back to New York. Still delirious from my travels, I caught a collection of four of his short plays staring Mikhail Baryshnikov at New York Theater Workshop. Existential and spare, the pieces are accompanied by a Philip Glass score and a set designed by Russian architect Alexander Brodsky (of Brodsky and Utkin) Thirteen tons of sand fill a stage framed by mini-blinds and fluorescent tube lights. It sure isn’t a Celtic green, but strangely, my ears picked up an Irish lilt in the meditations on the human condition.
Dublin snapshots here.