I'm sorry to have to admit that I was a bit of a lightweight when it came to tackling last Friday's Dublin Culture Night head on when I'm sure the rest of you would have kept going until the small hours and managed the late night supper at Harry's Cafe and still been up with the lark on Saturday.
I'd done the PEN event in London the night before and was staying at the Penn Club (no connection) in Bloomsbury and right opposite my old nurse's home in Bedford Place.
For those that don't know of it, The Penn Club an ideal place to book a comfortable, clean and warm budget room and breakfast for overnight London stays. Except I hadn't slept a wink after the excitement of the day and a fear of oversleeping for my early flight, eventually deciding at 5am it made more sense to skip the breakfast and be awake and checked in at the airport than lying awake in Bloomsbury.
I managed to get from Bloomsbury, and how eerily familiar was it to walk those dark wet and deserted London streets to the tube at 6am, thence to the airport, then to Dublin to hotel and to lunch at The Winding Stair by 1pm and a meeting with Joseph O'Connor.
Time had been set aside for me to talk with Joseph about his new novel Ghost Light and all those other very inquisitive things that 'dovegreyreader asks...' likes to know, more of which soon. I did have to own up shamefacedly that I was new to his novels; honestly authors must hate it when people interviewing them say that but supposing he'd asked me what I thought of Redemption Falls or Inishowen, then the cat would have been out of the proverbial. Anyway Joseph was utterly charming and lovely and of course I now want to read everything, plus he signed my almost finished copy of Star of the Sea.
After lunch, and feeling the onset of creeping withdrawal symptoms connected to no sighting of a bookshop, I was more than happy to find one attached to the restaurant and an extremely good one it is too, and therein was my promised treat, a copy of the poetry of W.B.Yeats.
I now feel a whole Yeats post coming on having also been to the exhibition at the National Library of Ireland in Kildare Street while I was in the city, and which proved to be a complete joy thanks in large part to this. Click the top of the arrow and you can sit in that little room too and hear Yeats reading The Lake Isle of Innisfree and also take in the rest of the exhibition.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, that's for Saturday, it's still Friday.
Culture Night is becoming a national and now an annual late-September event across Ireland, and one which has grown from small beginnings, all in an effort to reclaim the Temple Bar area of Dublin from the copious hen and stag nights it had become renowned for, and all thanks to Mr O'Leary's cheap-as-chips flights into the city. Fortunately it's now cheaper than chips to go to Riga and Barcelona so the per-nuptial hens and stags have clucked and galloped in that direction, leaving Temple Bar to up its cultural game and turn around the negative publicity, which it has done with great and ever-increasing success.
I was introduced to the Minister for Arts & Culture who happened to pass by and looked set to have a grand time (as we now say) and I was just wallowing in the voices. I could listen to Dubliners talking all day, it really is an exquisite and beautifully expressive accent.
Everyone was busy getting ready for a fantastic night of free events, readings, exhibitions, music, street entertainers, singing and dancing so it was wonderful to stroll around amongst it all.
Something unusual around every corner
and then you look upwards, in a city you don't know and spot even more unusual sights.
So I'm afraid that was me sleep-walking back to the hotel by 8pm, about twenty minutes walk along the banks of the River Liffey when you're awake, I have no idea how long it took me whilst asleep on my feet, but most unusually a good night's sleep followed, a real rarity for me away from home, and all ready for the On Your Marks...Get Set... Dublin day I had planned for us on Saturday.