The English Department visited Dublin during Leave Away.
Report by Jess Beardsworth, H Social 6.1
Boys from the 6.1 and 6.2 Years met Dons early on the morning of the 27th October at London Heathrow, before departing for the Irish Capital, full of excitement at what awaited us there.
Upon arrival in Dublin we took a coach to our accommodation for the weekend, Jacob’s Inn Hostel, near the centre of Dublin. After storing our bags safely, we had a brief break for lunch, in which we also had to visit popular landmarks, such as Davy Byrne’s before reconvening at the Irish Writers’ Museum for a look around, accompanied by an audio guide.
The guide was very useful in understanding the background of writers such as James Joyce and playwright John Millington Synge and how this influenced their works. After finishing at the Museum, we headed over to the Abbey Theatre foyer to meet our guide for the Walking Tour of Dublin. We began by visiting the Liberty Hall, a recognisable sight of the Dublin skyline. Following this brief stop we walked down to the waterfront, where we were shown the modern Sean O’Casey pedestrian bridge, named after the famous Dublin-born playwright. Parallel to this was the Beckett Bridge, named after the famous Dublin playwright who wrote ‘Waiting for Godot’. We were then told of the various regenerations taking place along the riverfront: the most prominent of which was taking place in this ‘SoBo’ district.
On the way to our next stop we paused briefly outside the Abbey Theatre and were briefly told of its long history as the National Theatre of the country. Upon arrival at the Ambassador’s Hall our guide informed us that the building to the left of the former Theatre was in fact the main maternity ward in all of Dublin and the plays performed often raised funds for midwifery. After seeing various statues depicting influential figures of Dublin’s history such as Padraig Pierce and, once again, Joyce, the tour wrapped up back at the Abbey and after a hearty supper followed by a quiz on Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ we retired to bed for the evening.
We began the second day with a light breakfast at Jacob’s Inn before returning to the Abbey for a tour of the Theatre itself. Our excellent guide, James Hickson, returned to show us around and his vast knowledge of Irish literature and drama clearly shone through, with a very detailed look at the history of the building and a brief look at the staging for the closing day of Dermot Bolger’s adaptation of ‘Ulysses’, which we would return to see later. Our tour of the Theatre drew to a close after a 30-minute presentation in which our guide went into a detailed account of the history of the Abbey, and more specifically, its most controversial performances over the years.
These included Irish classics such as ‘Portia Coughlan’ and ‘The Playboy of the Western World’. Later that afternoon we went to watch the Dublin final of Hurling, a sport native to Ireland, contested between the bitter rivals Cuala and Kilmacud Crokes. The atmosphere was electric before kick-off, with both boys and teachers unsure of what to expect. The game itself, despite being foreign to us, was very enjoyable and by the end I am sure most of the boys would be up for a game
themselves! Cuala emerged victorious, completing their hattrick of titles after a late rally from Kilmacud, which was sadly not enough to lift the coveted trophy. Later that evening we attended the aforementioned performance of ‘Ulysses’ at The Abbey and I personally found it a very interesting take on Joyce’s novel. The costumes and acting were both excellent and if I were a local I would highly recommend The Abbey.
On the morning of the third day we visited Sandycove Beach, a short train ride from Jacob’s Inn, near which the Martello Tower is situated. The Martello Tower was featured in the first few pages of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ after Joyce himself had stayed there for a few eventful days years before ‘Ulysses’ was published. The Tower had been converted into a museum and was set out exactly how it would have been during Joyce’s stay, as the museum itself was dedicated to the novelist, and run by volunteers. We had the chance to visit the roof of the Tower, from which we could see the whole bay. After our visit to the Tower finished, we came across a typical Irish market selling all kinds of things, from food to used books, and both the boys and the dons greatly enjoyed it.
We returned to Dublin and briefly looked around Trinity College, Dublin with the help of our guide Orleith. The university itself was a beautiful campus, in which was the Book of Kells, a famous religious manuscript made of vellum, which we got to see first-hand. The impressive Trinity library is among the largest in the world, with over six million books to its name.
We then returned to Dublin Airport and, after a short flight, we arrived in London Heathrow, ready to start the second half of term.
Below: Rory Betley pictured outside Oscar Wilde’s rooms at Trinity College, Dublin.