Ireland adventures: Cork to Dublin

Posted by on Jun 11, 2017 in drawing, Illustration, travels | 5 comments

We headed to Cork on June 2, driving back up the Dingle peninsula about 40 miles to Tralee. While at the Dingle Library, I’d read an essay about the Two Paps, a pair of mountains which, upon seeing them, the writer felt nourished by. I kept looking for them as the landscape, quilted in greens, rolled by.


Every so often we’d ride through a town, where the ancient hugs the modern.


We took an hour’s detour down to Kenmare, so I could pick up a cashmere sweater for Grace, the only person to request I bring something very specific back. It was the quickest of stops; Marty wasn’t keen on driving a mile further than necessary. We got turned around upon leaving and made an accidental detour that included a stop while a couple let some sheep out of their truck. Traffic jam, Irish style.

We arrived in Cork City late in the day.


Our lodging, the Crawford House, lacked the charms of a stone cottage, but was conveniently located near plenty of pubs and restaurants so we walked everywhere.


We’d heard Cork was famous for it’s food, and we tried two restaurants that were all booked, and wound up in a noisy pub, James St. 1767. Let me just say, you can’t go wrong in Ireland. No matter where you land, the folks are friendly and they mean their Cead Mile Failte when they say it. Once the Guinness arrives, it’s all good. We moved over to the bar after dinner to hear the live music, but it was not a trad session. Four excellent guitarists with a mediocre vocalist and a string-less green guitar enshrined nearby entertained us for a bit.


The next morning while Daisy slept, Marty and I set out in search of breakfast. We found Oh My Donut! and knew the whole day would be sweet, no matter what.


We ambled across the River Lee into the gates of University College Cork.


The Glucksman Gallery is a startling piece of architecture near the entrance of campus.


Our first encounter was in the foyer, an installation by Women living in Direct Provision. That is, immigrants who are held waiting for the correct papers, marking their days of limbo in stitches and henna on their hands. Eye opening.


Art always provides a moment apart, an encounter that suspends time while triggering so many associations beyond the visual. As a family, we tend to look solo, at our own pace, and discuss our impressions later. The next floor’s exhibit was Enter Stage Left, with “work by artists whose practice delves into realms of stage craft.”

Whatever that means, the colors by Lothar Gotz hit me like a brick, in a good way.


Watched an informative short film that showed Gareth Kennedy carving this mask.


There was an excellent show of drawings, Set in Time, from the collection of Serge Lifar, no photographs allowed there. But we swooned over Picasso’s line work, Cocteau, di Chirico, and many more. On the next floor there was a curious installation of props that featured many penises and vaginas, and I can’t remember the artist. It seemed to involve Wagnerian themes and sex rites. Daisy found it very “art school.”


We moved on to browsing at Relics and Records and Time Travelers Book Shop. Nothing bought, but much gained in the looking. We headed south to Kinsale, a town stacked by the sea not unlike Sausalito, in a way.


As we parked on a hill, I encountered bride spotting, a spectator sport of mine that comes from living on Peaks Island, where one can easily bump into a bridal photo opp without going out of one’s way. Here I just missed the bride, but heard the squeals that came from her dress blowing up and giving everyone a good view before she collapsed into the car. It was a blustery day.


I spotted another while rounding the five star points.


Charles Fort is the site of historic battles that settled the score between Ireland and Britain. A couple of buildings are intact and offer informative displays, while the rest is crumbling with age.


The wee lighthouse and commanding views made for a lovely walk into the winds.


Once in the center of town, we roamed about considering where to eat.


We happily landed here for a fine meal and excellent service.


We missed the rain during dinner, but found a rainbow before returning to Cork. Sorry, no leprechauns.


The next morning we turned in our rental car at the Cork Airport, much to Marty’s relief. You can get used to driving on the left, but locals drive so much faster, it gets exhausting. We took our first bus back into Cork, delighted by the logo.


The walk from the bus to the train station got our hearts pumping.


Once on the train, we became drowsy with the rocking of the cars and the bucolic scenes blurring past.



Upon arrival in Dublin, we took a tram two stops to our hotel overlooking Smithfield Square. Best surprise: a balcony!


We hung out for awhile people watching, some who were doing the same.


We crossed the River Liffey to Ned O’Shea’s for a fine meal of Irish stew and the sound of musicians in the next room. Is this not beautiful?


We encountered great street art.


This was at one end of Smithfield Square which we could see from our room.


It turned out that Monday, June 5, was a bank holiday and our intended destinations were closed. We decided to walk to them anyway, and take in the Dublin air.


Dublin Castle is a sight to behold. Built in the thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, it is covered in stone busts.


Was this a queen forever fated to stare longingly?


Maybe at this melancholy bishop with the best of beards?


I loved the cacophony of signage.


A pity we didn’t see this sign lit up at night.


We found the gates of Trinity College.


Lo and behold, the line for viewing the Book of Kells was OPEN and like, nothing! We stumbled upon the most exquisite exhibit design, like petals of a flower, so that the flock of viewers flowed organically amid the fascinating displays before going in to see The Book. No photographs, of course. But once in Long Hall, where you go, dazed from the intricacy of what you have seen, towering stacks of antique books surround you with their sage presence.


We revere these places, yet our modern libraries are dwindling. It was gratifying to find an illustration in the displays, this from Gulliver’s Travels, next to a death mask of Jonathan Swift.


Another great mural just inside the gates.


We walked back to the hotel getting properly soaked like everyone else.


We opted to dine at the hotel that night while our clothes were draped about the room. We awoke to a baffling photo shoot taking place below.


Fortified by sunshine on our last day in Dublin, we marched across the Liffey.


First stop: Oifig an Poist. Have you gotten your postcard?


Even the graffiti is green.


Next stop, the Chester Beatty Library, home of an astounding breadth of book arts and collections of artistic treasures from around the world. It killed me that there was no photography allowed. There were Durer wood block prints, bejeweled bindings, Islamic art, one dazzling object after another. We took a littler breather before entering the show of Japanese surimono prints, where there was a bench! I began my only sketch in Dublin there.


We enjoyed a tasty lunch in the cafe before walking to Kilmainham. There’s a Viking vibe all around the city.


We passed the home of Arthur Guinness, but didn’t stop for the acclaimed tour.


I was eagerly anticipating the best for last, meeting my Irish penpal for the first time! We set our rendezvous at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

This installation greeted us, and reminded me of collections seen at the International Folk Art Museum.



I gravitate to art with hands and eyes. Not so much feet, but there was another sculpture in the gardens that seemed related, like doll parts. This is by Janet Mullarney, titled Byzantine.


I honestly didn’t see anything else. Once Mirjam arrived, we found a quiet bench to get acquainted. We connected on Instagram via our mutual love of mail art and stamp collecting. What a gift to finally meet up!!!


We have plenty in common, being moms, artists, and educators. But time was up much too fast. Letters will keep us connected til the next meeting. Thank you, Mirjam!

Marty and Daisy wanted to linger in the heavenly gardens. This would be a major drawing spot if I lived in Dublin.



Our walk back to the hotel took us into the face of rush hour, but we saw more street art to slow us down.



We crossed the square to dine at Sparks Bistro, where they do NOT serve Guinness. They serve great wines, and we had an amazing meal. Our last stop was a nearby pub, recommended by local illustrator, Steve Simpson. Thanks for that, Steve, Cobblestones was the best way to complete our visit! The rollicking trad session made it SO hard to leave.


The moon was nearly full in the square.


Guess what? I’m not waiting another 37 years to go back to Ireland. No doubt our visit will be well savored in the meantime.


Get thee to Ireland and see for yourself!






  1. Your adventure sounds amazing !

    • April, we had a fantastic time, except for driving on the left side of the road!

  2. Fantastic, Jamie ! As always, enjoyed your tales, descriptions and photo graphic tour. LOVED the Dublin castle! Can only imagine and look forward to seeing your travel Ireland artwork.
    Didn’t know you were an old stamp collector. We should talk. I have loads. Too much.
    Oh, travel is wonderful, and how great for the three of you to do this one together.
    Ireland will forever be in your heart. Would love to go there myself some day.

    • Gunnel, your loyal readership is always appreciated! Next time I hope we tour more castles.

  3. Thanks Jamie for some of the highlights of your wee tour of Ireland. Makes us want to go! Can’t wait to hear more and see more when we have the opportunity to connect. Want to hear all of your stories. XO

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