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Day 12 – Dublin continued

We notice that 15 Usher’s Island is rather close to us and decide to check it out. This house is the location of Joyce’s famous short story, The Dead, often considered one of the greatest short stories ever written. We read ‘The Dead’ the night before so the different scenes were fresh in our minds. We learn about the ambitious plans of Brendan Kilty to restore this 18th century home from Brendan himself. He’s rebuilt the rear foundation, the rear wall and top floor. We learn how the house was used by the William J. Smith family at the turn of the century for their grain business — the front room on the first floor has evidence of counters (based on the different floor boards). Also the door to the front room is a business door. The front door to the house is the original one. Just off the main hallway we learn that a room towards the rear of house was originally 2 rooms based on the floor and ceiling. This is the location of the pantry which was the setting for an important exchange between Gabriel (main character) and the housemaid Lily in ‘The Dead.’

We head upstairs and stop at the top of the stairs where the aunts likely stood and called down to Gabriel. Aimee also video taped the landing where Gretta heard an old Irish song that reminded her of a lost dead love. You see, ‘The Dead’ and 15 Usher’s Island is entwined with Joyce’s life. His aunts rented 2 floors in this house and they had a Joyce family dinner on the 6th of January every year. Remember the Michael Furey character was based on Michael Bodkin whose grave we looked for in Oughterard? There’s many aspects of Gretta that seem inspired by Nora, Joyce’s wife. But I’ll leave the literary analysis to the experts and stop. Brendan gave us a great personal tour highlighting both the rooms and his work to restore the house to its 1904 glory. It was a special experience for Aimee to explore this house that held the events that were the basis for ‘The Dead.’

We then walk to the National Museum of Ireland. We only make it through prehistoric Ireland and the road to independence before it closes (remember everything closes so early!). Those 2 exhibits were very interesting and we wish we were able to see more.

We have dinner in the Temple Bar area at a New York Italian place. We amazingly get a seat outside. It’s a beautiful night. There’s street performers nearby entertaining the crowd. The food is unbelievable and reasonably priced. This is Aimee’s birthday dinner the day before her birthday.

We are liking our new room even better. The angled ceiling gives it an attic feel with a window that’s like a skylight. There’s pigeons right outside our window. You could stick your head right out (remember no screens) and there is evidence that people have climbed out in the past. The nighttime sounds are more subdued — maybe from bouncing between buildings — and the floor residents are quieter at night (though not silent).

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