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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Saturday, 17 November 2007

A Saturday Morning in Dublin

Today, was a wonderful day. Once more without warning, I was a woman, racing from an infant sunset to an old dawn, reliving my childhood in a spontaneous fashion and rediscovering girlish dreams.

We went to the Writer's Museum on Parnell Street, Dublin. where Ireland's famed literary influences still rise from the past like scattered ash in the memory.

They were all there, housed with a hushed reverence high up the walls of long watchful galleries. A cafe leads out to an open courtyard and a specialist bookshop, which incidentally turns out to be a merry quaint place in wooing the customer with tempting literature of all sorts...poems, stories, ballads, odes, history; and this stacked up in various shapes and sizes like an exciting pack of cards. Then count too, the generous array of novelty and knick-knack stationery items with the mark of Irish literature eagerly stamped on the lot, that makes for an engaging collector's item.

Just viewing the ancient manual typewriters, manuscripts, letters, postcards, photographs and listening to an audio commentary on the daily escapades of the many novelists, poets and playwrights which graced Ireland's proud history, I was straightaway drawn to the nut-and-bolts of the writing craft myself; while no longer worrying about any kind of intellectual debate and frenzy.

James Joyce was Irish but he wrote in Zurich and Paris, Casey the playwright chose to live and write in London after a lifelong tiff with the legendary Abbey Theatre in Dublin which was for so long influenced by the formidable Mrs. Gregory. She thrived on a reputation for gathering writers and artists together for she felt to be an essential camaraderie.

Of course, it didn't mean the likes of Joyce were less patriotic. On the contrary, they chose the rich privilege that grabs the spirit of writers - though not many take up the offer - to write freely and to thrive on the independent will without obligation to any geographical location.

I was overcome with emotion on spotting Samuel Beckett's glasses and tears welled up in my eyes.

This haphazard post wouldn't be complete if I didn't talk about the sprawling Chapters bookstore, just down the road from the museum. It was so big, it would take more than half a day to explore everything. Chapters spots one of the biggest secondhand displays upstairs. It is a floor with mass stock so varied, the shelves have been painstakingly categorized and manned by an efficient information service.

Still, its regular customers appear constantly amazed and thrilled. Such curious titles as "Antique Books" or 'Hurt' books, wait with glee for the unsuspecting passer-by. How easy it is after all, to become a prisoner of titles. :-)

Later, I would purchase a slim paperback on the The Newman Murder, a play by James Anthony Kelly for just 3 euros. I would squeeze the book of mystery with an important air of secrecy into my winter coat pocket.

Downstairs, stand newly-published titles and inviting hardbacks together with a variety of packaged classics - think Penguin & Vintage that are all going for a song. But in Chapters, I also found the most creative and interestingly-designed stationery, not really seen anywhere else - not that I remember in London, Melbourne, Africa, Singapore or other Irish bookshops so far. Fabulous notecards, journals, writing paper, sketchbooks, decorative organizers and diaries to suit every personality. Thinks several rows of such an extraordinary collection.

After much silent debate, I settled on the Nancy Drew series for myself in the new year...postcards, address book, a journal...each collection had a host of colourful pictures and the address book just had to be the most original with several vibrant scenes splashed about in bright colour together with a host of b/w sketches. The journal even contains a chapter reprinted from the original series.
I shall have to explain why I bought Nancy Drew but I'll save it for another post.
And also, why I ended up buying a 1000-jigsaw puzzle, bearing the picture of a comic restaurant scene in Italy.

On another plus side, I received an unexpected gift of a cell phone and we had a lovely walkabout at the open-air fruit and vegetable markets that led on to Jervis Shopping Street. Ireland is good for me. I didn't know when I was last so happy...laughed so much...

Picture Captions: Top (Journal), Middle (Postcards) Bottom (Address Book).

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