March home


Wednesday 1/3


Spring has sprung, and it's snowing. The kids think that means school's cancelled. No, it's not.

There's thousands of people in Dublin at the moment who have a black/grey smudge on their foreheads, to do with observing Ash Wednesday. Apparently, the leaves from last Palm Sunday are kept, and burnt, until this morning.

a bit later
Walkies. Around the area that Joyce called Nighttown. Bella Cohen's is no more, it's now 'Our Lady of Mercy' refuge. What would have been the Tyrone Street entrance is now just a cement wall. The area, 'Liberty Flats', has a graffitteed 'pushers out' notice. Wandered around, hoping that no-one would think I was a pusher.

a bit later
Capel Street.

A 'traditional music' shop. Look at the flutes, £240 for a wooden one, and £190 for a beginners one. Low whistles, bejaysus, they're nearly £100. Fiddles hanging on the walls. Cassettes of Irish music. Nothing startling in the sheet music shelves.

I like the place, anyway. It feels real.

quite a bit later
St Stephens Green. There's millions of ring-pulls embedded into the bitumen near the Arch. The one that's known as Traitor's Gate. Maybe those who are commemorated on the Arch for having been killed or wounded in the Boer War decided to have one hell of a binge before they left.

The Brazen Head
A piper, two flutes and a guitarist. Sound brilliant, and they obviously need a drummer. But, just stood, listening, not quite getting the opportunity to ask if I could join in. They'd probably tell me to piss off anyway.


Thursday 2/3

read more of Ulysses, the Cabman's Shelter. The character Corny says that the address of the Brazen Head is in Winetavern Street. It's not. It's in Lower Bridge Street, number 20. The Bleeding Horse also gets a mention as a place you can get a room at.

Walked down Thomas Street, to collect the parcel that's waiting for us at the Post Office. It's not open yet, so a walk to the end of Thomas Street, where the road divides, near The Barn Owl, and there's a painter blacking the poles around some commemorative statue, passing the Guinness factory, the hospital stop shop, finally to the PO, open now, and get handed a large parcel with a million stamps all over it. Guess Shannon's getting a polaroid camera for her birthday.

still later
at the OPW. Began the box of bones I left yesterday. A younger child this time. Legs, tiny. Pelvis, jaysus, this one was probably still in whatever the medieval equivalent of nappies were. Then, the single tooth, probably only had the one. Tiny ribs, tiny vertebrae that hadn't finished forming. Poor bastard, didn't live long enough to have a birthday.


Friday 3/3
Malahide. Had to wait ages for the 42 bus,
and the front snug of Duffy's pub, according to C, is "exceedingly cute".

Grafton Street

Liam's busking, in front of the old Brown Thomas store, hoping to make the £6 he needs for 'The Crow' t-shirt in HMV. It's 2 degrees, and his fingers are freezing.

Yep, he's made it. In HMV, downstairs, counting out the earnings, coins in piles on the floor.


Saturday 4/3
Shannon's tirteen today. Leotards; Tigger, the anorexic koala (with a tail, and made from a yellow and black check), Manglers (spicy corn flavoured chips), Onion Rings, a Yorkie Bar, a Milky Way, Burger Bites (hardly any flavour at at all, compared to the artificial overdose of Manglers), the 'Creative Collage' activity book, and a poster of Brad Pitt.

The Taz's in green jelly didn't quite work out, as the jelly didn't set.

The Ambassador, which is Liam's "favourite cinema in the universe", waiting for Quiz Show to begin. And Holy Bejaysus, there's an ad for condoms (the one where the chemist who sells the boy the condoms also turns out to be the father of the girl he's taking out), but, always thought dingers weren't allowed to be sold in the Republic.

and the amount of rubbish the Irish audiences leave behind in cinemas is absolutely beyond belief. Mountains of garbage, Calcutta gets the 'tidy town award' in comparison with this. No wonder they have to close between sessions, must take them hours just to clean up after every screening of every film.


Sunday 5/3
There's a group called Scarlet, whose 'Independent Love Song' is huge here, they sound as they they haven't quite recovered from hearing The Lion And The Cobra either.

Walked with Liam up to the Glasnevin Cemetery, basically following the path of Paddy Dignam's funeral. Up O'Connell, passing Dorset Street, into Phibsborough, there's the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Cross Guns, and the Brian Boru. Into Glasnevin. We're asked if we're looking for anybody in particular, by a guy who turns out to be from the Irish Graves Association, who, fortunately, has nothing else to do but to show us around. Joyce's parents, Parnell's Rock built on the grave of 900 people who died during the Famine, the IRB graves, the Fenians, the Easter Rebellion graves, and the Hunger Strikers graves, James Larkin, Michael Coleman, Emmett's girlfriend, O'Donovan Rossa, De Valera, Roger Casement, the martyrs that died for Ireland, and a million and a half people are buried here, the Celtic crosses, crosses decorated with zoomorphic scrolls, harps, shamrocks, hounds and broken round towers.

To the Museum.
In the Road to Independence wing, Watching the video display on the Easter Rebellion Displays, twice through, wondering if those who put their names on the Declaration really understood what they were doing, or if it just seemed like a good thing at the time. And then through The Treasury, the work of angels, not men.

In the belting rain, to the National Gallery.
The Blind Piper is great. Sentimental and Romantic, but great.


Monday 6/3
Back to the Museum. Gate. Safe. I read the Ulysses plaque at the entrance. Raghnall is there, so is Ned - who's wearing a rather stupid hat - they explain that they're setting up the desk that will be my 'office', deciding where things are going to go. I help bring in the desk, and the computer on a trolley from Ned's room.

Fiddling with the computer, trying to find Modes, not getting past the first screen, and as Nigel explains on the phone, it's all simple really, just press Alt E. I guess if all else fails, press Alt E.

Details, what details go where. Raghnall and I think we've sorted it out. Won't know until we attempt a search on downloaded data. Do 10 records.
Yes, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and the Leeson Lane bones in the afternoons. How do I tell them I'm knicking off for two weeks on a dig week after next? Oh well. And they're currently preparing an exhibition on Vikings, and the 'De Valera' room was an embarrassment really. Apparently, it was all just playing politics.


Tuesday 7/3

On the way, wondering if the pedestrian lights were there, in Kildare Street, when Bloom deviated to avoid Blazes Boylan. Probably not.
Managed to get through about 30 Westropps.

C went to a service at St Teresa's, the services are constant, every half hour, streams of people, neverending, and she shook hands and said the "God Bless You" at the appropriate times.


Wednesday 8/3

The Bolshie Broads March
something like "4795700" is being chanted, the Intenational Women's Day march, which, tonight, is a march to support the passing of the Abortion Information Bill. Parnell Square, offered leaflets by the Socialist Workers, and C joins the march, to O'Connell Street, D'Olier Street, somehow up to Molesworth Street, to the back of Leinster House. The raucous microphoned chant "What do we want ...," and "not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate...," and "SPUC off...", but my vote goes to the "keep your rosaries off my ovaries..."


Thursday 9/3
The Abortion Information Bill got passed. But on this radio station at least "the pro-life movement has not seen this as a setback", and that the pro and anti groups "traded insults" last night. Damn, I didn't insult anybody ...

Another day of the Museum and its Westropp's in the morning and Leeson Llane and its bones in the afternoon. Westropp's negatives of Galway, cow lifting, Aran Islands, Inisheer, Inishmaan, cathedrals, churches, the very occasional figure, the gentlemen in bowlers, the ladies in white blouses and long black dresses. In one, an ankle was being revealed, how daring. And about a thousand photographs of St Gobnats statue. She was something to do with beekeeping.

In Fishamble Street, there's a plaque commemorating the place where Handel's Messiah was first performed, although the actual venue is long gone. It's not so much a plaque as a tin sign.

The Brazen Head
Expected some kind of a session, but there's none. Must have heard that I was coming.


Friday 10/3
Along the Quays to Celbridge.
Waiting at the Viking Boat bus stop for the bus.

In a coffee shop, upstairs, the signpost down there says Maynooth 4¼, hope it's kilometers, and over the other side Celbridge Memorials, 6274242, get your Celtic Cross, next to Celbridge Cycle and Sports.

Under Connolly's Folly.
Underneath one of the smaller arches is the sarcophagus of Marica, the Hon. Mrs Desmond Guinness. Architectural Preservationist.

The doors to the upper level are firmly bolted and welded closed. There's junk everywhere, litter, cans, graffiti, but it's still impressive. A pointless nothing built for nothing other than sheer whimsey. And why not ?

Maynooth. In the Leinster Arms. The town has an Olde Worlde charm. You can buy Screaming Green Mummies potato crisps, but not the legendary Banshee Bones.


Saturday 11/3
Grafton Street.
The buskers are out in force. A poet, who'd recite any of a few hundred Irish poems, a crappy guitarist doing Jimi Hendrix songs, a singer outside Bewleys who has cassettes for sale and has the advantage of using a microphone, then there's a flute player who only seems to know Hey Jude and Morning Has Broken, an old fiddler who's not too shabby, a rather great group of what look like schoolkids, a piper, box player, guitar, fiddle, bodhran and flute) and bejaysus, they play the folkie stuff well.
Best of all, though, was Liam. Pity he only made £1.13.

The Irish Film Centre
Tickets £2.50 each, for The Tin Drum. One of my favourite novels. Explaining the symbolism of Oskar Matzerath and the analogy to Germany 1939-1945 to Liam. I'm not sure I explained it very well.

The film doesn't quite get to the end of the book. But, on the way, the skirts, the toy shop, the screams, the breaking glass, the eels, the fall down the stairs, the post office, Maria and the fizz powder, dancing on the concrete boxes, Kurt's present, the party pin, Roswitha's coffee, leaving on the train. I'm expecting more, but that's where the film ends the story.

Finally found a session at the Brazen Head, and joined in. Lots of songs, but it wasn't very good.


Sunday 12/3
Reading Dubliners. The Ivy League. The man who could not return love. The zen moments in time.

The American Laundromat, in South Great Georges. The walls are decorated with posters for upcoming events. And Liam and I have trekked Bloom territory this morning. Westland Row Station (new Pearse), pass "All Hallows", down the street under the railway where Bloom furtively reads his love letter, Sweny's (which has lemon soap for sale, as it should, £5.15 for three or £3.50 for one), the Mont Clare hotel, the Cabman's Shelter has gone.

O'Connell Street. The kids are going to the Savoy for "Star Trek : Generations", not me, never was a Trekkie. There's lots of child beggars on the street, the 'hunry and homeless', and I'm wondering if the spelling mistake was intentional. Another, outside the Savoy, working the queue, with the palm out and upward.

The Madigan Bar. Down Talbot Street. We sit in the front section, under a portrait of Joyce. other illustrations on the walls include Joyce's school, Nora with family, his graduation photo from Trinity. Even the men's has tiled portraits. This is great, you get to contemplate genius while taking a piss.

But the best was reading 'Grace' and 'The Dead', from Dubliners, in Madigans, even though I did feel a tad pretentious doing it.


Monday 13/3
Apparently French people spent the equivalent of 8 days, over a lifetime, saying 'bonjour."

The blue-faced clock set into the front of Trinity College, the one that one of the characters in Dubliners steps off the footpath to read.
Began mentally composing an essay on Ulysses, imagining that I'd been set the topic of 'my favourite novel'. It would begin "Sweny's, the chemist from which Leopold Bloom buys a bar of lemon soap, is still there, and still sells lemon soap. Barney Kiernan's, the pub in which The Citizen holds forth his views on Ireland, does not - it's now a hairdressers' called 'As You Like It'. The cabman's shelter, where Bloom and Stephen Dedalus meet Skin The Goat, is now part of glass office blocks (not sure about this part of the essay, too wordy). Both the Citizen and Skin The Goat are buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, the place to which the funeral procession for Paddy Dignam heads. Finding them was a thrill. Nighttown, Bella's no longer exists, but is still a dangerous area. Graffiti at the entrance to the apartments there reads "Pushers Out". Scary. Take a photo of where Bella's was, then get out of there fast. I'm not a pusher, but I am unknown there.
But I'll probably never get the chance to write the essay anyway.

Our registration forms are being processed. Had to fill out 3 cards each. Date of Birth, Nationality, Children, Address, etc ... Seemed fairly painless as we had all the right papers this time. The girl seemed quite friendly, "so why did you choose Ireland ?", even if she did have grey teeth. I've never been an alien before.

To Bewley's, to celebrate being Aliens.
The coffee in here is sensational, and sometime I'll have a sticky-bun too.

Tuesday 14/3

at the Museum
During morning break, in the cafe, hearing stories. One about an excavation being carried out by someone named Finbar, from Queens University in Belfast, next to the Murphies Brewery, and accidentally hitting a pipe. The next morning the site had a head on it. Another one about the High Crosses that were put together for the Eurovision 'TimeDance' sequence being put together the wrong way.

Back to the Westropps. Negatives of ruins in Kerry, Cork, Clare, Kilkenny, and even more of St Gobnat. Westropp seems to have had a thing for St Gobnat.

Liam's helping me clean bones at Leeson Lane. He asks lots of questions, while cleaning, a skull, pelvis and some ribs. He does it carefully.


Wednesday 15/3
To Ned's lecture on Ritual in the Bronze Age. It's one of the most boring lectures I've ever been to, but it's for the 'layman' apparently. He mentions two theories, one, the deposition of bronze for ritual reasons, and two, about the intentional taking of wealth out of circulation. I wanted to ask him if the two theories could be combined as maybe greater attention was paid to ritual in times of plenty, but refined, in case I got up his nose.


Thursday 16/3
Morning break, "coming for coffee ?", always exactly at 11:00. How am I going to tell Raghnall that I won't be here for the next two weeks? Mary asked if I was going to the Saint Patrick's Day parade. Of course. It's always freezing, apparently, and there's always these stupid Americans who march and do nothing but wave to the crowd, and it's always tacky. Good, the tackier the better.


Friday 17/3, St Patrick's Day

O'Connell Street
Outside the GPO, front row by the barricades, the runners on the Dublin run panting past.

My wrist clamming up from the cold, a long parade. Bands,marching girls, floats, more marching girls, University bands from America with funky drum epics that make the local Irish product look like utter shite. Clowns, people wearing sprigs of shamrock and stupid green plastic bowler hats, people in the parade dressed as Celts, warriors, lots of Saint Patricks, the Guinness animals, although the Guinness horse itself was getting a bit testy, people on bikes, in wheelchairs, the feebs march past, more bands, accordions and drums, the Beamish Pipe Band (they were great), the Dunnes Store Pipe band, the Prison Officers Pipe Band, youth bands, the Tallaght Festival band, marching girls with flying batons. The Lord Mayors coach, the Liberties music and dance group (jaysus, didn't even know there was one), arty drummers in face masks, cheer squads, The big finish is some monster American band that sucks up to the privileged under the canvas awnings, and my feet have gone numb.
And, learnt that 'balloon' is pronounced 'balloo-wen'. Rhymes with moo-wen.

a bit later
The Ormonde
For that extra special St Patricks Day round of drinks.

Ormond Centre
This place is a basement, set up like a cafe.

The band's late, "Irish time", and the support band was shite.

Saturday 18/3
But Dervish were brilliant. Intense and loud. Cathy Jordon utterly captivating. On stage 'til about 2:15, but the time passing quickly.

On the way out, asked 'security' if I could take one of the three Dervish posters from the back wall. I took the reply to mean that I could, but the reply was so backward logicked that I still wasn't sure, even while I was removing it. Stuck at the bottom and stapled at the top. Detaching it carefully, still managed a 3" rip. Damn. But it's huge, featuring Cathy dancing through the fire, in either the same dress she wore at the gig, or she has a huge wardrobe of vaguely hippy-ish dresses.


Sunday 19/3
Pier Hotel, downstairs.
This gig, Begley & Cooney, is meant to be one of the highlights of the Temple Bar Fleadh, at least, it's listed as such on the back of the Fleadh guide.

Jaysus, for a duo, Begley & Cooney rocked. Stephen's come a long way since his days in Redgum.

Monday 20/3
Trinity College

Yep, got the TCL one-day readers ticket. Just flashed the out-of-date LaTrobe Uni Student Card. Easy.

Early Bronze Age -graves and metal objects
2000-1200 BC
not much about social structures known
Beaker People "lived in a world which for them was charged with magic and symbolic meaning"
"native copper is now very rare in Ireland, and it was probably never a significant one in the Irish Bronze Age"
but, no Bronze Age smelting pit has been found.

graves: 1. burial rites 2. funerary pottery
                A. Cist Graves: short, rectangular, slab built box
                    burial customs: crouched, or lying on sides (economy - space ?, magico-religious?)
                    typological distinction between 'vase' (contained cremated bone) and 'bowl' (food), in cist graves

                B. Pit Graves, paved floors
                   grave goods: gold, silver, bronze, stone, flints, bone, buttons/beads, wood
                   environment: increasing use of yew woodland, and blanket bog

no evidence for changes in agricultural practices from Neolithic to Bronze Age
social implications re gender, status : difficult to determine.

bought one of the posters from the New Book of Kells, from Dublin Castle, the "I wanted to convince the barman of the absolute significance of the moment" one. Why you cannot buy a replica of the entire book is beyond understanding.

It takes 78 walking paces to cross the Ha'penny Bridge, from steps to steps. For some reason it takes 50 to get to the middle, then I guess your pace gets longer on the down side.

And since the local boyo became the new world boxing champ, the Evening Herald has the headline 'Stephen Hero', somebody knows their Joyce.

Tuesday 21/3
Continued cataloguing the Westropp negatives of Dublin, nothing staggeringly new there, apart from some shots of Swords, an interior shot of Howth castle, and two of the vestments of Plunkett, usual churches, occasional round tower.
At morning tea, with Raghnall, Ned, and a guy who turns out to be the Keeper of Manuscripts in Trinity College. Raghnall congratulates him on a recent purchase, £47,000 paid for an early book.

Grafton Street
Some girl shoves a small cane basket at me, "no," but she follows me anyway, waving a shoving the tiny basket closer, and saying "I need it for food." I ask her if she'd like to buy me some. She goes to find some other victim. Don't like it when they hassle, especially when they lie.

spent the afternoon in the garden next to Saint Pats cathedral. Warm and sunny.


Wednesday 22/3
My thoughts are asked for regarding the motifs edging the Smith Gold Cup. Aboriginal, maybe? God knows.

National Library. The Reading Room doesn't open until 2:00. Asked at the desk about the room mentioned in Ulysses - an entire chapter of Ulysses, where Stephen delivers his thoughts on Hamlet, but the guy didn't have much of a clue. He thinks it may have been what's now the Librarians' Office, but at least he knew what I was talking about. Maybe it's just me, but I assumed an association with Ulysses would have made it important. Obviously not, at least, not here.

Reading Room. I have no reason to be here, other than touristy ones.

Buying crisps from the Gaiety Sweet Shop. Burger Bites are okay, but they don't have the nukesome power of Meanies or Monsters. They sell them straight out of the box.

Maybe the words 'Brazen Head - trad session' (from In Dublin), and 'music - 7 nights' (in the pub itself) don't really mean what they appear to, perhaps they mean something else entirely. Perhaps the brilliance I heard three Wednesdays ago was just a figment of my imagination, perhaps I was so convinced that I was going to hear what I wanted to hear, a great bunch of musicians that just needed a drummer, and that's exactly what I saw and heard. It all seemed so real at the time.


Thursday 23/3
The lead singer of Smokie is in a coma, apparently, but there's no brain damage. Funny, thought that was their problem from the start.

Gate. Safe. Ring the bell, thunk. My ID card has gone from the front desk, fill out a new one. The guy at the desk advises just to keep it, rather than handing it in every time. I guess I'm becoming known around here.
More Westropp negatives. South Dublin. Obscure places. Churches, ruins, high crosses. The best was a picture of a zeppelin over Dun Laoghaire taken on Armistice Day, November 11 1918, the only portrait photograph that Westropp probably took. Of a woman on a park bench.

At coffee break I'm introduced to Pat, head honcho of the Museum. It's explained that I'm from Sydney and that I'm working on the Westropp collection. It sounds impressive said like that, although I'm not from Sydney, and I'd never heard of Westropp until after I'd arrived in this country. Pat is in horror that the negatives will eventually be destroyed. His view is that in 50 years time, historians and archivists will call this destruction as 1990's madness. He's right.

Just finished Portrait of The Artist. Stephen's gone off to create the conscience of his race .. and good luck to him.

Friday 24/3

C is reading a children's book called 'The Bookshop on the Quay'. Recognized the places. Liffey, Ormond Quay, O'Connell Street Bridge, and the Guinness barges are mentioned. Still, I don't think it's the created conscience of the race.

On the bus to Chapelizod.

There's a house, a grey two storey, 89 Main Street, with 'Finnegans Wake p.264' on a plaque. I wonder if the page numbers remain consistent between editions ?

Mullingar House.
'Home of all characters and elements in James Joyce's novel Finnegans Wake'. Having a chat with the barman, Yes, If I'd done what Eric Cantona did, I'd be away for 6 months, rather than just not being able to play soccer for two weeks. I just had to speak to the barman, even though he's not the dreamer of Finnegan's Wake dreams. "She's a River", by Simple Minds, is currently on the radio and above the cigarette machine there's three framed portraits of Joyce.

Back to Dublin. The Quays, passing apartments like ours, green domes, Bargaintown carpets, beds, and Bargaintown takes up the entire length of this quay. Boss Croker's Inn, Arran Quay, Virgin in the fake rock grotto, Church Street, The Quill, Four Courts, Chancery Place, the Dublin Christian Mission welcomes me, Four Courts Inn, The Ormond, Pops Restaurant, Tormey Bros, 'Shrine' are appearing at Slattery's 25th Mar, Carroll, Ha'penny Bridge, posters for Playboy of the Western World with Dolores Keane, Edward Butler, Hapenny Bridge Galleries, Bachelor Inn, O'Connell's statue, GPO, Eason's, and people are wearing daffodils because it's Daffodil Day, Abbey Street.

Bewleys. Grafton Street.
Creating a Bewley's Collage. Serviettes, dockets, even a menu from the James Joyce Room upstairs, which Shannon 'found'. Three ladies who were next to us moved on, perhaps they felt inadequate in the presence of artists. Truth, beauty, the nature of tragedy and all that good Stephen Dedalus stuff, but, I have to agree with Joyce, truth is not beauty. Keats got it wrong, nor is it all I'll ever need to know. Chris is writing her thoughts on Bewleys, the aroma of sweet sticky buns, coffee, and somehow, an agelessness in the scent of the burning fire. Nothing else matters when you're in Bewley's. Not a single thing. The collage is great. True Art.

Today, Liam met Amanda O'Sullivan, the girl that is Jean Butler's Riverdance stand-in, the one that became the 'overnight sensation'. Apparently she's totally gorgeous..

Saturday 25/3

The Moore Street Market.
Sounds. The traditional music from Dolphin Discs, the horse clipping, the tobacco and cigarette and lighter sellers, I buy the usual, Samson, and as a special today Mother's Day cards at 50p each, the smells of the fruit and vegetables and the bakeries and the grot on the ground, the smell of dampness on the awnings and the road and the bunched fresh flowers. The people, the young ones with a quick eye, the older friendlier ones who call C "love", to whom nothing is too much trouble, some terse ones, no, they can't 'do' half-pounds of tomatoes, only pounds, while others can, searching the stalls for the ones that have parsley. And, finally, buying kidney at the butchers.

And tomorrow, I'm catching the 6:20 train from Connolly Station to Arklow, and meeting Barra at 'Kitty's' on the main street. £7 train fare.

According to Lets:Go, the sessions at Slattery's are at 12:30 on Sundays, but according to someone who knows someone who went there once that C knows from Mt Temple, they're on at 11. Who knows. I no longer know what a traditional session is anyway. Nor do I believe that they actually happen, anywhere. Just bands playing for tourists.


Sunday 26/3

Somewhow managed to lose an hour. Daylight savings. Get to at 2:00 session of Little Women and it turned out to be 3:00.

Waiting at Connolly Station, or, in Irish, Stásiún Ui Chonghaile. The train's here, but the cleaner's are still cleaning, maybe they leave their trains the same way they leave their cinemas, maybe it's wall to wall garbage in there. Whatever, it's platform 5. The Rosslare train stops at Arklow, and it's orange and black. This is becoming very, very real.

They've finally finished cleaning the train, I'm on, and it's moving.
Blarney by the boxful. Dairy Milk. Talbot Street, Abbey Street, Liffey, Tara Street, All Hallows, Pearse, Rostrevor Court, graffiti, burnt building, backyards long and narrow, Lansdowne Road, canal, Sandymount, apartments, rugby field, Sydney Parade, houses spread out now, church with a round tower, looks modern, the beach on the left, this is where Bloom wanked and Gery flashed, Booterstown, caravans, Georgian House, Blackrock, Seapoint, Monkstown down by the sea, sea wall, jetty, ionic columns, Dun Laighoire, maybe, missed the sign, high stone walls either side, tunnel, wall continues, green cables running red lined, Sandycove and Glasthule, Glen Stores, now green, Glenageary, Dalkey, cigarette, been years since I smoked on a train, high green, longer tunnel, out now, to the sea again reappearing, white houses overlooking, Bray Head, stone wall right, sea left, green fairytale building, The Independent headline tonight 'Teacher Fury Over Deal', flattening, now boring houses set in green, Shankill, fields, golf course, towns now spread out, coming up to where?, spires, one pointed one square, train slowing, at Bray, Hibernia Inn, announcements made at stops, have this stupid fear of not being about to get out in time at Arklow, should have plenty of time, moving, train creaking, Bray is grey (don't delay), cross on the hill, are the clouds greying or is it just getting dark? The sea's back again, the right side hewn out of rock, barricaded with mesh wire, the sea is calm, wonder if you can see Wales on a clear day (probably not), portly gentleman over there in a grey and light maroon jumber with a can of Finches (whatever that is), and Metallica still pumps muffled through someone's headphones, tunnel, hurtling through anyplace, ticket collector, another town, Coopers Restaurant, leaving, Davis Motors. Greystones sur mer, stopping, poster for Waltons 'World of Music', well nearly, haven't seen any duduks in there so if you're into Turkish-Armenian music you might be out of luck, you can get the bus as far as here from Dublin, but we're well out of the county now. At last, moving again, squeel, another golf course, if you 9-ironed in the wrong place you'd have to tee off from the pebbled beach on the other side of the line, cows, farmland, farming what? ducks in the waterlogged parts at the edge of the field, canal, hard to believe this countryside is not brown and parched and cracked, the boyos down a few seats finding something hilarious, farmhouses, still green though getting darker, hills in the distance look greyblue, ruined roofless building, three swans flying, lights on a mountain, yellow flowers on shrubs, C would know what they're called but I don't, thinning out now, approaching another town, must be Wicklow, graffiti Irish Republican Army (that's it), yes, it's Wicklow announced, Cill Mhantáin, Inter-City ad 'we go further to get you there', the sea's disappeared, probably momentarily, cigarette (enjoy the luxury while I can), sheep on tree-lined pastures, cemetery, outskirts of town, night is coming in and the hills are darkening, are they gorze bushes? graffiti Sex Kills, sad, flower nursery, somebody over there is reading music manuscript, a tune called Medieval Dance, houses in a small valley, and on the left, another an a hill, nope the sea definitely disappeared when it did, rolling plains of green on either side, the boyos having some great craic, next town, lights, no, bypassing, river "Rathdrum next stop", slowing, Ráth Droma, poster for Rail Breaks - yes, know what they are, bloody expensive, brilliant water fountain on the station though. Arklow's next, how long? Will I find the hill, or Kitty's, will Barra remember? What's the telephone code for Dublin 1? 01? river over rocks, nothing outside except the black tops of trees against a darkly blue sky, and the stony river, shallow on the right flowing in the direction as the train, so uneasy about this, what'll be expected, what I'll be expected to know but don't. Lights, Arklow? Pub, well lit with fairy lights. Slowing? No, not yet. Straight A's mean nothing, ruins, street light, town, must be Arklow. Finish.

From the station, the exit door, straight ahead, to the main street, turn right and Kitty's on your left.

Barra's not here yet, but it's a nice enough pub to wait in, books line the walls of the stairs, one of them includes a tune called "The Devil in the Kichen". I think I know that one.

They haven't found anything on the dig, so far, apart from the disappointment of a cairn that proved empty.


Monday 27/3

At the site, turned my first archaeological sod, and against all expectations, found nothing, although Jimmy and I were just clearing a 3m x 4m area of topsoil. Ripped my gumboot on a shovel, held levels, tore my raincoat. Finished cleaning the topsoil of the designated area outside the 'dig' enclosure, but I don't know what to do next.
Jimmy uncovering the group of five stones that'll probably turn out to be nothing.
Ballinagore. Martin's Field.
A Bronze Age Cemetery.

This truly is a beautiful landscape. Cows and sheep graze exactly as they're supposed to.

Coronation Street is on, and apparently Tracey's into drugs. She's in a coma.
To Barra this is a "textbook excavation", and can read it as such. Fecked if I can. I must have read different textbooks.

A drive into some town, Red Cross or something. Two general stores, Flemings near the Telefon, and E.Collier on the other side. Collier's has a rather fetching black vest and bow-tie set in its window.


Tuesday 28/3
It's Liam's birthday. 16, hard to believe. Happy Birthday Mate. Hope it's a good one.

We're all in Martin's sheep shed, up the road from the dig, waiting for a lamb to be born. It's pouring rain, and apparently we don't work in the wet. Had afternoon tea at Martin's house, and I don't think they believed me when I told them about the size of Australian farms. But, it's a pleasure to be away from the dig, and from Martin's old mother, who's story about how she came to own her dog, Amy the chihuahua, took 30 minutes, just on and on, rambling, losing the thread of her story then vaguely remembering what she was talking about. Earlier, at the dig, got talked to by some farmer, but I couldn't understand a word he said, something about the weather, or it might have been something about sheep.

The lamb is finally here. Martin had his arm up to the elbow, helping it, then swung it, to clear the lungs. Maybe I should have done that with Liam.

Fair City has just ended, and do, she didn't want her son to go to jail, but the bloke was suspicious of this oil-based get rich quick scheme.


Wednesday 29/3
Don't know if I'm enjoying this epic of archaeology or not. Are we having fun yet? The three 'archaeologists' have found some broken pottery shards, and a flint. I found a horseshoe, and deepened the 4'x3' by one inch. I don't think we've furthered an understanding of the Bronze Age very much.

Jimmy wears a German Army coat emblazoned with the names of Heavy Metal bands; Slayer, Metallica, with drawings of hanged men, and messages like 'Evil Made Flesh'. He's just as quiet as I am around here.

The Jet station at Woodenbridge.
There's rows of 'Hula Hoop' chips, and a Lourdes travel pamphlet in the window.

Home And Way is on. And it's totally riveting to everybody else here. Pippa's being a bitch, whoever Pippa might be. They don't seem to realize that it's utter shite.


Barra's Wicked Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe .... it really is delicious ...

  Crush 10 Digestive (5 oz) biscuits, melt 2 oz butter (and mix), press into dish, and refrigerate.
  Mix 8 oz philedelphia cream cheese, 2 egg yolks (separated), 3 oz castor sugar.
  Melt 150g cooking chocolate, and add 4 crunched up 'Dime Bars'.
  Let chocolate cool, then mix in and whip 5 fl.oz 'double cream'.
  Fold into chocolate and cheese mixture (fold, not blend).
  Whip egg whites until stiff, then fold in.
  Crunched dime bars on top, then let set.


Arklow. Phone calls. And while I've been down a hole, Liam's been knobbing it around Dublin in stretch limousines, as part of his Work Experience at RTE.


Thursday 30/3

They've found a second flint. Identified by the striking platform, and the bulbar scar. Meanwhile, while the others are going gaga, Jimmy and I deepened the 4' x 3' by an inch.

The Pope has just delivered his latest volume of great thoughts. More of the same. But, amazingly, he apparently does know the mind of God. Isn't this the definition of heresy though ?

Driving to Woodenbridge, stopping at the Jet station, which seems to be a popular place to stop. This time, they buy Snowballs. Which they eat in one go, just shove it all in. I'm told it's the traditional way, and I'm not sure I believe them.

A solo drive into Arklow. Good God Almighty, I'm Free At Last. Buying eggs and milk. Got a tad confused leaving the place, it doesn't matter, I'm free and there's no-one judging me, so just drove around the block a few times, and eventually recognized a few things, then over the bridge, aiming for the caravans on the corner, then for 'Journeys End', the name of the house we're staying in, remembering to close the gate, as apparently 'Grandpa', whoever he might be, is very finicky about the cows he thinks will wander in and trample his flowers.


Friday 31/3
and these people have no idea who The Bothy Band were. I'm amazed. Like not knowing who The Beatles were, or who U2 are. After I explain, Mara just dismisses it sarcastically as "Irish Traditional Music", well, of course it is, you fecking useless bitch. I have very little in common with these people. And if I have to listen to fecking Des's 'Pulp Fiction' soundtrack again, he can shove the fecking 'little green bag' up his arse. And Des, the sad but true fact is the Stone Roses are utterly shite, whatever you might think. And no wonder the Irish haven't produced any new brilliant writers as the only adjective left in their language is 'cool'. I hate that word.

Hi honey, I'm home !
To Leo Burdocks for fish and chips. To Bewleys, Grafton Street, upstairs, my shout. C listens to my bitching about the dig, that Mara has permanent PMT and Christ knows what else, the ugly fat slag.

Apparently, according to C, rosary beads and crucifixes are turning to gold, a couple of hundred, says one priest. Why the Irish still trust their priests is utterly beyond me.

to February