The day dawned bright in Dublin and with contingency set to continue my cultural tour of the north side of the Liffey, I set off early. The day was fresh, but stunningly bright. Lovely, lyrically so, and if I have learned anything from the past few week…when you have the chance, seize it. So at 8am I trundled off on the old (new really, but I use the term endearingly) Trek Urban rider. Destination: Casino Marino. My Bank Manager Niall has suggested the visit on more than one occasion. A passionate north sider he, there’s a less than subtle attempt to convince me to balance my impression of Dublin by straddling the Liffey. I discovered I could be in Kilester in a very short time, and also that that was too far to have gone to find the Casino.
Yes, when he first mentioned it, I thought it was a neon-emblazzed place of gambling. I was actually quite far off. If you followed the link above, you’ll have discovered that the casino is in fact a palace of pleasure, but in this case a neo-classical masterpiece that’s a listed national monument here. It was built by the first Lord Charlemont (also the founder of my employer, the Royal Irish Academy). A casino is a building dedicated to entertainment and impressing acquaintances – I would know it more familiarly as a Belvedere. The Petit Trianon springs to mind as example. Casino Marino is stunningly proportioned, full of wonders and a trip well worth making. I had a private tour by a passionate guide.
I left Clontarf and headed north to Malahide. Eventually the four lane busy highway gave way yo a winding country road, lined with trees. It was an easy, long ride on one of the finest days of recent memory. Up past north of malahide, then a decision to turn around and find a nice lunch. Back through a very busy central Malahide, I passed on towards Portmarnock. The beach was well populated and the sun streamed off the surf. I kept pushing towards Howth, which I also found packed with wanders. I eventually stopped at the Bay Food and Wine for a yummy lunch. starting with some spectacular spring rolls and followed by eggs benedict (I liked the heavier lemon, but found that the more tart goats cheese overwhelmed the salmon). Quaffing some fine Pinot, the brunch was delightful. The only thing lacking was the right company.
A long leisurely brunch challenged my crystalizing plan to visit my man Jimmy in Dun Laoghaire for a trim. Back onto the horse I set off along the Dublin Bay cyclepath at a good click. At one point I sensed another cyclist in my peripheral vision. Not wanting to delay, I cranked up my speed a notch. Next thing I know he cruises up easily to my side and asks if I’d accept a question. I was a little surprised at the ease which he matched my pace, especially as he had a good 20 years on me. Nice chap as it turned out and we shared a good portion of the ride to Dun Laoghaire.
Jimmy’s is a busy parlour on a saturday. When I entered the cramped shop with people spilling onto the sidewalk, a couple of the teenaged boys confessed that they weren’t there for a cut and as it turned out five were there along with a single buddy getting a good trim. Jimmy is a pro. As fast with the scissors as with the blade. He does a fine job, maintains a lively banter and efficiently carries out his trade. He’s a one man bad again. When I last graced his door, he had a young apprentice who has since found a full time gig in the city.
The cut took me to past five and in town I decided I wanted to find a copy of Brian Friel’s Translations at Hughes and Hughes. The Dun Laoghaire outlet is one of the bigger ones. Two stories and featuring a Costa shop on the upper. Costa makes the best latte in town here by my experience thus far, so quickly grabbed a quick one to go. Finding my book and hitching the steed back up, I motored it back to town. Getting home around 6:15 I realized I was pushing it a bit to get to our 8 date to hear the songs of Harold Arlen at the Cobalt cafe, but the day’s activity card was nicely full and satisfying.
All in all, probably travelled a good 50-60 kms today. By a wide margin the longest of my stay here, but an absolutely brilliant day. Mind you, I sense I have probably ended up with some pretty strange shaped tan lines, having not planned for a full day in the sun. Tomorrow will tell the tell physically as well as aesthetically.
- Bucking the Trend -
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