For too many years now I’ve opened my house to friends and family for New Years Eve. It’s always a good party; a roaring fire, a slow meal, fireworks on the telly and lots of hugging amid promises and good intentions for the year ahead. But this year we headed off to Dublin for a short break.
It rained of course, but we packed the right gear and set our expectations accordingly. Cocooned in the delightful Merrion Hotel you want for nothing. It feels “boutique” but with a 2-star Michelin restaurant it’s very definitely Dublin’s No 1 sleepery.
Running in Dublin takes little in the way of planning. It’s flat, the pavements are wide and wherever you go there are buildings of interest and beauty. In better times, wealthy shipping merchants vied with each other for architectural grandeur. The result is a density of historic civic buildings and fine Georgian terraces seldom seen in any other town.
From Upper Merrion St I ran past Doheny and Nesbitt’s Pub turning north towards the river. Once the home of Viking settlers I learned, The River Liffey now provides (and receives!) almost 60% of Dublin’s drinking and industrial water although Guinness pipe theirs from the nearby Wicklow Mountains. The Quays are studded with massive iron rings which secured the ships that brought so much wealth to Dublin in the 17th and 18th century. Back through Temple Bars still swathed in the smells of last night’s partying.
Dubliners are unfeasibly friendly and the town, although a little tired in places, is the jewel of the emerald isle. Everything is very expensive but with over 1,000 pubs it’s a haven for career drinkers and with The Wicklow Mountains only half an hour’s drive away it’s also a fell runner’s delight. Apparently they play rugby too.
But their economy is evidently stressed and many are poor, some homeless; I watched as a Police car swooped up to a blanket-clad beggar on the street. As he got out of the car and donned his cap I feared the poor man’s day was going to get worse. But instead of handcuffs he presented the man with a steaming coffee. That’s the Irish for you.
Happy New Year to both my regular readers!