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Dublin Day 1: A Problem Solved and a Pilgrimage (2014)

This past weekend (July 11-13) I made the 3-hour-long drive from Galway to Dublin, with the help of Richard Casey, my taxi driver. My first stop in Dublin was the INVACARE warehouse, where I was hoping to pick up a replacement charger for EMMA (my wheelchair). EMMA’s charger had stopped charging the day before, so my parents were pushing me around. My father was trying to solve the technological glitch: he texted my brother Carlos Mario Cortez, to see if he could find out if the guarantee on my chair could be applied when we got back home from this trip in Ireland. Meanwhile, my father was trying to put an end to the problem of the charger, here during the rest of my stay. He searched online for the name of the manufacture and found that the company was based in Germany. The exportation of the charger to Ireland would take more than a week (I couldn’t wait that long). So, he searched for an INVACARE outlet here in Ireland and found the Dublin-based warehouse. He called and asked if they could sell a charger to him, but Lisa Wogan, the representative, said that they didn’t sell them at retail, my father explained the emergency situation, and Lisa said that she would try to find one, but that she wasn’t making any promises. With the hope of getting the replacement charger, I headed up to Dublin the next morning as planned. At the outlet, the representatives Sharon Mclean and Lisa Wogan told my father that they had found a charger, but that they couldn’t sell it or rent it, but they were able to lend it to him. To my father’s surprise they didn’t ask for paperwork or credit card to ensure that he would return it.

With the replacement charger in hand, I began my travels through Dublin after checking-in at the Radisson Hotel and I was ready to set off and discover Dublin! My first stop was at the National Library of Ireland where an exhibition on W. B. Yeats is housed. The exhibition is titled, YEATS: The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats. This display was a must-see for me because Yeats is one of the major poets who shaped the Literary Revival in Ireland during the twentieth century, and moreover, he’s one of my favorite poets. The exhibition on Yeats is the largest collection kept in one location, and it seeks to explore the major episodes of Yeats’s life and relate his lifetime to his works as well as the socio-historical, and political atmosphere of Ireland during the time that the poet lived. The extent of the exhibition includes short films about different aspects of his life with commentary by Yeatseans scholars and fellow poets such as Seamus Heaney. Also, the exhibition leads the viewer on an auditory journey through his major work Collected Poems, at the center of the exhibition is a cylinder shaped room equipped with three all-around display screens where the text of some Yeats’s major poems are shown while you listen to someone reciting them, with great all-surround sound quality. This exhibition was surely one of the literary highlights of my first day in Dublin.

After enjoying the exhibition, I went to the National Museum of Archaeology and History and saw a series of exhibitions respectably titled: Prehistoric Ireland, Ór – Ireland’s Gold, Celtic Ireland, Viking Ireland, and Medieval Ireland. This sequence of exhibitions allowed me to get a glimpse of the early history or Ireland which was one of my first loves when first getting to know the country. The series of exhibitions started off with a brief introduction to the pre-Celtic pre-historic civilization of the Irish people that saw the development of Irish culture, including the first Irish language script, called Ogham which has twenty letters. The building blocks of Ogham script are a series of right side downward strokes, left side upward strokes, perpendicular strokes and notches that represent vowels. Here it must be noted that the maximum number of notches or strokes used to represent a single letter is five, suggesting that the main measuring tool of that time would have been the human hand. The Ogham script, most importantly, represents the early stages of the making of the Irish language alphabet and perhaps in future a simpler letter based alphabet will be used to reconstruct the faltering Irish language which is now dying out and is only spoken in the western parts of Ireland known as Gaeltachts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the exhibitions on the second floor of the museum, since the building isn’t fully accessible and doesn’t have indoor lifts, so sadly, I couldn’t see the exhibition titled, Clontarf 1014: Brian Boru and the Battle of Dublin.

My last stop of the day was yet another exhibition that was sponsored by the National Library of Ireland. This exhibition was called, The Dublin Lockout, and it maps out the story of how Dublin’s industrial workers protested against the mal practices of their main employer and factory owner, William Martin Murphy. The exhibition mainly sheds light on this obscure event in history that is largely unknown to most people including myself.

My first day of Dublin was one filled with museum visits that are sort of pilgrimages for me, since I’m a creative writer and a historian specializing in Irish and Latin-American studies.

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