My colleague and co-Deputy Editor of the European Journal of Engineering Education, Professor Jonte Bernhard, came to visit for the weekend. Jonte was on his way to a PhD viva in Limerick where he is serving today as External Examiner.
Here’s a favorite picture from the summer, taken with Jonte, at a dinner in Stockholm that was hosted by our chief editor, Kristina Edström.
This past weekend, Aongus cooked up a lovely dinner for Jonte and me on Saturday. We were joined by a PhD student named Urša — she had attended the Doctoral Symposium that Jonte and I organized at the SEFI conference in September.
On Sunday, Jonte, Aongus, and I enjoyed brunch at Oscar’s on Smithfield Plaza. Aongus and I had hoped to show Jonte several of Dublin’s sites, but the rain put us off. We did make it over, between downpours and hail, to tour the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street.
Aongus had never been on the Jameson’s tour, and I hadn’t since 2003, so it was a rare treat despite it being just a block from our flat.
For me, the work week started with attending an online conference. Then, I did a bit of peer reviewing before heading off to teach Tech Graphics 2-6 PM.
My co-teacher, Marina, and Rachel (who teaches physics lab down the hall at the same time as us) both came over for dinner to celebrate the semester coming to a close.
As both Marina and Rachel are working on PhDs (in BIM and spatial perception, respectively), we’ll be sure to get them reviewing papers for our journals soon!
Following a Saturday morning visit to the gym—weights, pool and spa for Aongus, yoga for me—we mulled over our breakfast of porridge and fruit at home before heading out by bike to the National Gallery on Merrion Square.
We wanted to catch the opening weekend of the National portrait prize exhibition.
We enjoyed the architecture, too, of course. The Gallery has historic old and sleek modern wings.
Nested somewhere between floors is a room full of portraits by emerging artists that includes a portrait painted by Aongus’ sister, Aisling Coughlan, of their late dad.
You may recall a prior post, where all four Coughlan siblings were assembled around the portrait while it hung in the Royal Hibernian Society. Since that time, Aisling retired from her job and enrolled full time at the National College for Art and Design to hone her skills even further.
I think I also blogged when she was on the television competition for portrait painting, which was filmed in London.
Leaving the Gallery, we pushed our bike through the throngs of holiday shoppers on Grafton street.
And since Aongus has been asking Santa for Five Guys, his dream of American burgers and fries under fluorescent lights finally came true.
Our tummies filled, we settled into a cozy table on Fade Street where we could people-watch to our hearts’ content… but we still made it home safely by bike before 8PM.
Thanksgiving here in Ireland is usually just another ordinary Thursday. But this year I made a point to celebrate. I registered for a conference held at the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street, so I could learn about “Next Generation Construction in Ireland” while soaking in old-school Irish ambiance, and I bought tickets for an American Thanksgiving feast.
I love visiting the stately old RIA building, with its floors of well worn books. There was an interesting exhibition on display, and lovely architectural details to treat the eyes and soothe the soul.
Despite heavy rain falling before my cycle over, I was inspired to wear my favorite Irish sweater and the “BIM Hero” lapel pin I received earlier in the year. (I am hoping the pin will provide the good karma I need to get my current manuscript on the Hero’s Journey polished up to final form to submit this coming week!)
During this one-day conference, I learned more than a few new things about Modern Methods of Construction, Irish strategies and policies, and education programs and plans to up-skill the Irish workforce.
Dr. Tara Brooks from Queens University in Belfast presented fascinating research and I’ve included images since I really enjoyed the graphic devices she used to situate her contributions to the body of knowledge in BIM and digital construction.
My own university, TU Dublin, was very well represented among attendees, presenters, panelists, organizers, and session chairs. I’ve pictured Joseph Mady, a part time lecturer who delivered an interesting talk.
Our conference ended promptly at 5, as Ireland’s Prime Minister was scheduled to speak in the same room at 7, and there was setting up to do.
With the conference concluded, I headed across Dawson Street to Cafe en Seine for a cocktail with Aongus.
Then we cycled together over to the Hilton near Lock C6 on the south side canal. We met up with a merry group of Americans (most with Irish in tow) to share a feast of turkey will most all the trimmings.
It was Aongus’ first sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and he’s still raving about his new find. It’s fun to see the delight he takes in root veg… he also loved the glazed carrots. Such a healthy boy! My favorite were the green beans sautéed with bacon.
We made some new friends and had a ball sharing stories in a familiar twang. Until next year:
It’s been a great week! In the past seven days, Aongus and I have hosted my former PhD supervisor, Professor Pamela Eddy for a stay at our place in Dublin. I got to meet her nephew, Michael, over a meal at Damascus Gate. Here are photos with Aongus, Pam, and Pam’s nephew:
Just after Pam flew home, Aongus and I hosted my Uncle Harry and his friend Andi for a tasty home-cooked meal that Aongus whipped up. Afterward, we trotted over to the Cobblestone pub to meet Andi’s family, Linda and Steve. A couple days later, we assembled again at Oscar’s for some lovely seafood chowder. Here are photos of merriment with Harry and the gang:
I am glad they visited while Dublin is sparkling! The holiday lights go on at the end of Daylight Savings, to make our early evenings more bearable. The sparkle combined with having visitors makes life feel so much more worthwhile.
In fact, I’ve gotten inspired to add a new genre of exercise to my routine: ariel yoga. Two lessons in and I’m doing pretty well!
I also recently received copies of William and Mary’s World Minded magazine.
Pam is featured highly in an interview the editor of World Minded conducted with me over the summer. She asked me many questions about my career journey and my roots back to W&M. You can read the interview here:
A positive outcome of the World Minded feature was getting to meet a young alumna named Emma. She came across the article and wanted to chat about internationalizing her career. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting online with Emma as she’s from my home state and is full of zest and ambition. I look forward to seeing what steps she takes in her twenties and thirties. Thank you, Emma, for giving me a reason to break from work for an hour to chat about designing your life!
I look forward to reconnecting with many more family and friends from back home as the world reawakens following the pandemic.
I’m finally coming out of laptop-induced hibernation. I’m ready to move between in-person and online realms, and hoping this will ensue rather seamlessly. It’s been hard to muster enthusiasm for blogging after working behind the laptop all day, every day. Maybe spending time outside will provide inspiration to blog, as it has today.
This morning, I delivered a seminar (7-8 AM) to the Center for Research on Engineering Education (CREE) at the University of Cape Town. The topic was writing research proposals for publication and securing grants and fellowships. I delivered a similar session earlier in the year as part of a workshop series conducted by the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN), and CREE asked me to bring it to their group.
A really enthusiastic group attended and I received several follow-up emails. I really appreciate hearing what attendees valued and how we might connect more in the future. I met most of these folks in delivering Master Classes in South Africa when I was working at UCL, and also when attending the Research in Engineering Education Symposium in Cape Town in 2019. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them better through regular meetings, online during Covid. I’m currently developing a special focus journal issue with one of them, Anita Campbell. We had a meeting about that project yesterday that was so exciting I had trouble sleeping last night!?
Logging off the Cape Town session, I headed over to Bolton Street TU Dublin to help lead a field trip for Transition Year (high school) students to visit sites in Dublin.
One-half of the students toured the “waste to energy” facility in Dublin (which they don’t call an incinerator, as that word seems politically incorrect here but is easy-to-envision thanks to Toy Story). The other half of the students came with Kevin Gaughan and me to see a construction site downtown. I included two photos of our site visit below, but you can see more about the visit, including a full gallery of images, at https://roboslam.wordpress.com/2022/05/12/engineering-your-future-at-tu-dublin-2022/.
While I was busy on the tour, some of my colleagues were preparing for tomorrow’s activity for the same students, a BioSlam. You can view the instructions for making little blood flow monitors on our RoboSlam site, at https://roboslam.wordpress.com/bioslam-ppg/.
I’ll have to step out of the BioSlam for a while to attend an online Meeting on engineering ethics — I hope earbuds do the job and I can attend from the corridor outside the electronics lab.
At the moment, I am taking a breather, listening to an online talk by a leading expert in the history of Grangegorman. The speaker, Brian Donnely, Senior Archivist in the National Archives, is currently talking about Richmond Surgical Hospital (a block from my flat) and as well as TU Dublin’s campus site at Grangegorman, which was used as an “insane asylum” with a prison placed between the two in the past.
And, I’m multi-tasking (a rarity for me) and posting a blog (also very rare these days).
Online lecture by Brian Donnely, Senior Archivist in the National Archives.
In just over two hours, I’ll be teaching an online evening class on Research Methods for my BSc students in BIM/Digital Construction. Before then, I’ll read the peer reviews I’ve just received for the European Journal for Engineering Education, so that I can recommend tomorrow to the Editor in Cheif how to move forward toward publication of the manuscript.
The pandemic closed life down on our little island just days after Christmas.
After a long winter’s hibernation, Ireland has just started to lift the lid. For months, I’ve rarely left home. Aongus got Covid the week his worksite opened back up, just after Easter. But despite staying right by his side, I didn’t contract the illness. I actually tested negative twice, but had to isolate (for what seemed like forever) nonetheless.
I did, though, get a wave of something while Aongus was sick. I felt drained, although not to the same extent as Aongus was.
It hasn’t helped that the big volunteer/publication project I’m currently wrapping up has taken five-times the effort it should have. I couldn’t be happier to see the backside of this lockdown. Or this project….
Fortunate for my sanity, things are gradually opening back up in Dublin, and the sun sometimes shines. My flat is still a nice sun trap which makes life bearable.
In the past couple weeks, Aongus and I have had a few nice outings.
We had a lovely coffee and pasta last weekend sitting outside the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge on our cycle ride to Dun Laoghaire. I’ve always admired this majestic Victorian building but had never ventured onto the grounds.
Last weekend, visiting friends’ back gardens was finally allowed again. We had an absolute ball visiting our friends Diana, Stefan, and Diana’s mum on Sunday evening. We’re looking forward to the day we can welcome them to our place for a meal. (Inside visits are off limits until one of the two families is fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid. We’re well in our way to meeting the criteria!)
Yesterday we ventured out again, taking the local commuter train down the coast to Bray—the town where Aongus and I met over five years ago—and this time we hiked to the top of Bray Head.
I thought I’d been to the summit before, but I’m now sure I remembered wrong. It’s a surprisingly steep and rugged path. Back in the 50s and 60s, there was a chair lift, seen as necessary since it’s so steep.
We chose the climb since part of the Bray to Greystones cliff walk had collapsed, and that favorite path wasn’t an option yesterday.
There’s a spectacular view from the summit, and I’m glad we’ve had that experience. It’s not likely I’ll have it again!
I can’t wait to get fit again. The gym opens tomorrow and I’ll be in the pool bright and early!
Although tomorrow is a bank holiday here, Aongus and I working so we can take off Friday for a new adventure on wheels! We’re going to re-live a favorite itinerary from last summer. Stay tuned!
My Dad passed away one year ago today. It’s never easy to lose a parent, but I’m thankful I was able to be there in Virginia with him in his final stages. It was a long and hard fought battle with carcinoid cancer. Dad loved life and resisted leaving us with all his might.
I really feel for those going through life’s end stages alone during Covid.
As today is Dad’s one-year Anniversary, Aongus and I remembered him; we celebrated his life, our love and our small circle of friends. In the days leading up, we have chatted with relatives on the phone.
Today, we tried to stay busy and make the most of the day. We started late-ish, with a breakfast of blueberry-raspberry, buckwheat pancakes and a side of bacon.
Then Aongus headed out by bike to visit his auntie and I jumped on a Dublin Bike to meet colleagues for a walk around the new campus of TU Dublin.
I got a bit of exercise alongside Damon, John, and Heitor—at a much greater distance from them than unusual. In the past we’d have had our sleeves rolled up building robots!
Masks and 20’ between us each today. Still, it was great to see them and view the progress on TU Dublin’s new buildings!
I went straight from campus to join a virtual mass, said for my father at a church nearby. Aongus had asked the priest at St. Michan’s (Dublin’s oldest Catholic community) to mention him and put in a good word. The Irish are careful about marking anniversaries like these and remembering their forebearers. It was so kind of both him and the priest.
Drawing can be therapeutic, so I decided to make a couple videos for my Tech Graphics students. The strategy I developed for teaching them Hand Drawing online has been working out well, so far. Hope it holds out! Marks are nice and high and they seem to be learning well.
Mid-day, my friend Cinaria dropped over an amazing home-cooked Arab meal. I met Cinaria via a Facebook discussion on preparing applications for Marie Curie fellowships. She grew up in Kansas and I in Virginia. More recently, she has been doing research on lung cancer here in Dublin. Such admirable work!
Aongus and I had planned to have Cinaria for in for a visit, but a few days ago the government said no more discretionary visits to other’s homes. As it was, I met her on the Quays just long enough to exchange a bag full of goodies she had prepared. I do look forward to having her over as soon as health regulations permit.
Since lockdown, we’ve had only two other people in the flat besides ourselves–a washing machine repairman and a graduate engineer I’ve been mentoring. It will be nice to get back to normal one of these days.
The meal Cinaria cooked for us was extraordinary! It was clearly cooked with both skill and love. Really lovely flavors!
How blessed we are to have friends and health and delicious food during these trying times.
Thank you, Cinaria, Damon, John, Heitor, and Auntie Eithne, for helping make our day a positive and uplifting one!
We will end the day with a swim at the gym. Then it’s headlong into another intense week of work.
I may be far from home and family, but I felt surrounded by love today.
The zone of town around Grafton Street is ripe for pedestrianization. Right now, Dublin City Council is testing the use of street space for people rather than car occupation. Aongus and I are delighted to support that test!
It’s lovely to be in this quarter when you’re safe from cars, as we discovered during the height of lockdown:
Since lockdown started in mid-March, Aongus and I had gone months with no meals out.
We pretty much waiting until the government opened the country for internal travel to start eating out.
Awakening for coffee
By June 21, it was finally time for our first sit-down coffee in Dublin since lock-down.
We sought out a little pop-up container shop at St. James’s Gate, based on a Twitter recommendation from Ciran Cuff. I wanted to support the use of this greyfield site (location of a former gas station), in the hopes the land gets assigned a greener use in the future than petrol sales.
They’re using a shipping container to house the shop itself, and they provide outdoor picnic tables in the back. It was an ideal first stop for the day’s in-town cycling adventure on the southside of the city.
Such a joy to be outside!
First Dinner Out, Post-Lockdown
Later that day, on June 21st (and well after the 20km zone opened), we were overjoyed to find a street-side pizzeria offering a couple of sidewalk tables. They had gotten their Guinness tap up and running earlier that day, and we got to sit down and enjoy pizza and a pint in true Irish-Italian style!
We’re delighted that Dublin is re-awakening and we hope to see more street-side dining. Yet, we hadn’t eaten out again here in Dublin until today, August 1st. We have gotten so accustomed to cooking and eating at home, except when we’re venturing far from home.
Instead of traveling far outside of Dublin over the bank holiday weekend, we stayed here in Dublin. We stayed in town for a few reasons: (1) Hotel reservations outside Dublin were somewhat hard to come by for this three day weekend, and quite pricey. (2) We wanted to show support for the pedestrianization trials going on in Dublin over four weekends. (3) We exhausted ourselves the weekend prior by cycling 50 km in one day during variable Irish weather. (4) Aongus is studying for a big test–cramming a three-year degree into four months.
The pedestrian experience of Dublin town did not disappoint!
We really enjoyed the car-free areas. Dublin City Council is still allowing the flow of traffic (heavy traffic at that) into and out of the multi-story parking garages in the town center. But they put people in place during these trials to direct the automobile drivers and help with “traffic calming,” so it’s not the wild-west free-for-all of drivers heading into these garages that has become the norm.
I’m baffled that so many drivers disregard pedestrians in these areas most days. It’s clearly a pedestrian-centric area but drivers barrel on through and expect pedestrians to scatter in their wake.
Last Saturday, we shopped at the ILAC center and wandered the walkable streets, Henry, Grafton and surrounds.
We looked for a pleasant place to sit outside and eat. We found ample selection and couldn’t decide on just one… so we ate twice. Yep, back to back.
Tables in the Street!
We had our first encounter with “Sole,” which opened while we were living in London. They’re part of the pedestrianization trials and are providing really pleasant and visually pleasing on-street dining on weekends. The manager said they were getting permission to double the size of the on-street area the following weekend.
We each ordered a steak and blue cheese salad. Amazing!
There were little bowls with–mints?–on the table when we arrived. Seemed odd, as mints usually come after food. But the waiter showed up with a pitcher and poured water over them. They were actually little cloths for freshening up!
The deserts our neighboring diners ordered looked fabulous too, but we decided to eat light for lunch and to enjoy an early dinner at another place.
Oh, and I wanted to add that the interior design of Sole was pretty spectacular as well. We’ll be back! Soon!
After some shopping, then lounging in Steven’s Green and watching the people swirl past, we sauntered down Anne Street, where the businesses have been keen to pedestrianize. News reports say the Council raised the sideway in the fenced-in areas shown below over the past week. Hoping to get out later today and see for myself.
Around Anne Street, we found a few moment that reminded of us London and one of the neighborhoods where we lived while we were there: Shoreditch E2.
A bit later, we headed over to the street-side tables at Salamanca. A couple tapas and an order of churros hit the spot!
Incidentally, the people watching from this street-side table was second to none!
We cycled home. I got too far ahead when Aongus got hung behind a traffic light. So I stopped to admire the architecture. New design aside old, with interesting colors and textures everywhere you look.
So in closing, Aongus and I are asking, begging, Dublin City Council to keep these streets pedestrianized and to encourage businesses to place more tables and chairs outside. Everyone deserves the chance to try the outside seating and find out just how enjoyable it can be. If we can’t go to Italy, we can at least have a slice of Italy here!
Yet, we see the pictures from Cork and realize that what’s in place in Dublin right now is only just a start. We’ve enjoyed outside dining in countries with Ireland’s climate and we *know* it works.
Thanks, Dublin City Council, for the great work you’ve done since March to improve quality of life in our city and keeping the air and the surrounding clean and healthy. We applaud what you’ve been doing and we yearn for more. What a fabulous transformation this can be!
At the start of Ireland’s lockdown, we had some adjusting to do. New ways of living and working, for sure! Aongus was working from home for about six weeks, with the occasional visit allowed to his work site to make sure things were locked up tight and everything looked right. We found new ways to exercise and study together, expanding out the balcony during nice weather. Such weather is rare here, and even our south-facing balcony isn’t usually warm enough for outdoor work.
I really started to notice little things, like how dramatically the sky changes from hour to hour, day to day here. The view from my balcony was every-changing–a painting of gorgeous pastels and a hundred different types of clouds.
Early on, Aongus was completing a training model online. I tried to stay fit with online zumba and Down Dog yoga.
This day was warm enough for balcony use, so I took a little break with one of the books I’ve read this spring, a gift from Inês, called “Quite: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking”. Appropo for this period of isolation!
On the other hand, the look of work didn’t have much diversity. As I do educational/social science research, I don’t require access to a lab. I already had plenty of data collected that I could work with and study during Lockdown.
For me, life during lockdown looked a lot like this, each and every day:
Don’t get me wrong, each of these images captures something I found interesting! The diagrams, for instance, came from a UCL ‘show-and-tell.’ Researchers in Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) are doing fascinating work tracking Covid—looking for patterns—from how droplets move, to tracking the flow of a sequence of coughs by someone tapping to pay on a bus (shown here), to transmission patterns across cities and countries. Really interesting and important stuff! I was Tweeting up a storm that day, to share knowledge with others. Took care not to give away too much detail as the researchers were reporting, to close colleagues, research they had underway.
For me, it has been fun to attend meetings and events in places and with people I’d not have had easy access to in the spring of a teaching semester—like these UCL events and the Big Engineering Education Research Meet Up.
Here’s a screenshot of our UCL team coordinating one of the EER Meet Ups of the spring–Paula, John, Inês, and me (providing perspectives from REEN and TU Dublin). I love this group of people and was glad to work with them over the spring even though we live in two different countries.
There was also teaching to be done online, and new teaching arrangements to be planned for next year as well. I’m preparing materials for the Tech Graphics modules on hand drawing for the autumn, as the pile of tools on my dining table testifies.
And there was meal after meal after meal to prepare, as you’ll be well aware. Sometimes fancy, sometimes new (fried peaches on the suggestion of my cousin, Rebecca). A colleague from TU Delft, Dr. Gillian Saunders, crated this nifty mask and mailed it over to me. It’s coming in handy, especially since the Irish government has recently stated asking us to wear masks, and requiring them on public transit.
In addition, there’s been the occasional birthday party, with Zoom allowing us to gather from all around the world. Happy b-day, Tarrah Beebe and Mike Miminiris!
Aongus has gone back to work now, and I’m here working from home as has been my norm. I like working at home better when it’s sunny, but I pray most for sunny weekends. I must admit, most of my religious/spiritual intentions have gone for those less fortunate than we’ve been—this facing sickness, stress, and hardship due to Covid or living with addicted or abusive people.
We’ve been blessed and have been able to grow together during this time. We attempt to make each day new and interesting, whether it’s learning a new theory or just pulling out our Frank Lloyd Wright socks (a gift of my recently departed Dad). Other ways I’ve passed the Covid-time include studying for the Driver Theory Test (scored 40/40, yeah baby!) and—now that businesses have opened—finally getting haircuts and new glasses to match my improved prescription. I didn’t buy the Corbu specs (shown below) but they were fun to try!
Aongus and I hadn’t spent much time in Dublin’s very large urban park prior to Covid-19. We were, afterall, just returning to Dublin after two years in London.
I’d moved back at the start of January and got things organized. Aongus followed on February 5th. Luckily, I already settled back into the flat and gotten things arranged nicely when he touched down on the Irish tarmac–a full month before isolation set in.
A couple days after Aongus’ return, things got very busy for me at TU Dublin. I was appointed to Chair and launch a new degree program. We held the induction on February 14. We were four weeks into conducting modules that when the pandemic hit and campus buildings shut down. From then on, work was all from home.
When the Irish government asked us to keep inside a 2-kilometer radius from our homes, and only venture out for necessary purchases and daily exercise, I pulled out a map on the “2kmfromhome” app and very happily discovered the entry to Phoenix Park fell within our allowable zone. I loaded the radius map as my phone’s wallpaper for easy reference–that made Aongus feel a bit claustrophobic! He’s not used to such a small bubble. His parents, aunts and siblings live outside it. Sadly, he couldn’t see his parents anyway, as they live in a nursing home. There have been very few visits. His dad had symptoms of Covid but tested negative. His mom had no symptoms but tested positive–go figure. Both are doing fine, but lacking visits has really taken a toll on his dad, who is fully aware of what’s going on.
Considering the radius, I wasn’t quite sure where entering the park alone would get us. During an online School meeting, which we held weekly for months until summer break officially started, I mentioned in the chat box that we had the entrance to Phoenix Park in our allotted circle. A colleague said, oh how lucky! A friend of hers had the same situation. Catherine said it meant we could use the Park in full, as long as we were carrying verification of our address.
To me that made logical sense–afterall, the masses of Dublin living near the Park we couldn’t all stand in the first hundred feet of the entry gate.
And thus began…
Our love affair with Phoenix Park
Soon we cycled to the park using Dublin Bikes, with a picnic of left-overs in hand for sustenance.
That first day we didn’t make it too far, but on our next trip we discovered the expansive views of the field at the Pope’s Cross, with amazing views over the city of Dublin toward the Dublin Mountains.
Park it, Deer…
We also discovered the deer of Dublin, so calm and tame.
The deer cluster by gender–doe and children together, and bucks in their own groups. In the forested area shown at the top of this blog (with the nifty leg warmers, a gift from ‘me mum’), we once saw an organized lesson in being a male deer underway. There were three sets of young males with antlers joined, play wrestling, and one more deer–who appeared to be the coach. We didn’t get a photo that day, as we weren’t allowed by the Park Rangers to stop to observe. By loud speaker they announced “Keep moving. You’re here for exercise!” or something of that sort. They weren’t messin’ that day–taking no shite….
Fortunately, over time, the sense of panic and urgency has subsided. If you leave the deer be and avoid crowds, you’ll be okay. It is usually easy enough to stumble on crows if you don’t move far for the entry at Parkgate Street.
The deer have really loved having the park free of cars–the park is so large that motorists have typically used it as a cut-through, taking their cars at high speeds to get to the other side without much regard for pedestrians and cyclists, families and children. High-speed and rude drivers in the park, along with the poor quality of the pavement in the cycle lane leading into and out of the park, had previously discouraged me from cycling there.
I had, however, cycled to the US Ambassador’s Residence once to hear a NASA astronaut speak at a Fulbright Ireland event. There’s a sizable slope going into the park that takes some determination to climb. I felt so unwelcome by the hill and the rough pavement of the cycle lane going in (the car pavement is nice and smooth here), that I had avoided this park in the interim. I hoped–and still do–that they will repave the cycle lanes near Park Gate. Can’t imagine what has kept that simple act from happening.
Although we’d enjoyed our Dublin Bike adventure that first day, but realized we’d need our own bikes. My own had been stolen from my courtyard some years before, but our maintenance guy gave me a discarded bike as a replacement. I’d parked it on the balcony, but hadn’t much luck using it. Mostly, I needed a more comfortable saddle.
So, in March, I was quite pleased to discover that Pavlov at Bolton Bikes could get it back up and running. It’s heavy and I have to baby the gears, but it works and it has been nice and reliable. Bolton Bikes repairs and also sells used bikes. We were very fortunate to buy one for Aongus that suits him incredibly well. Neither of our bikes is a magnet for thieves, which is fortunate since rates of bicycle theft are off the charts right now in Dublin.
I didn’t even report the earlier theft–really no reason since the police don’t really investigate.
Our bikes have worked out fine. They really serve us well and we are learning to love them and the freedom they provide.
…enjoy a scenic overlook
On our second or third visit to the park, we found the far end, to the west, had the fewest people. We’d ride out there and eat a quick snack, tea, or sandwich before cycling back home.
Ireland had an amazing streak of glorious weather, in March and April. Perfect like this for several weeks. We discovered this stunning view at the far end of the park, and reaching it became a regular goal:
…and a quiet little pond
Over time, we ventured into the gated area around the pond. The water lilies were delightful; my photos haven’t done them justice.
Aongus enjoyed feeding crumbs to the ducks and geese.
Just be yourself!
As the weeks progressed this corner of the park remained sparsely attended. We encountered very few people and were even able to curl up with a book on occasion. Wild and free and happy as can be….
(…but not in America!)
Speaking of America, I felt safe enough in Phoenix Park to attend the very first Dublin-based rally in support of Black Lives Matter.
Stand up for what you believe…
I elected to attend the #BLM rally in Phoenix Park, as I believed there would be ample room for social distancing. This location meant participants weren’t likely to get hemmed in as I feared would happen near the American Embassy. My assumptions were correct.
There was plenty of space where we assembled at the driveway entrance to the Ambassador’s Residence. There was also plenty space as we processed slowly around the property in a long single-file line, and one the rear/southside of the house where we knelt for a minute of silence. Any groups were households that arrived together. Many couples and a few families, and many brave individuals as we did not know what to expect. I saw this advertised on Twitter, with two locations available so everyone could stay in their allowable zone (which, by this time was 5km, I believe).
In any case, I was glad to be able to do *something* to support the #BLM cause, and to achieve that without violating any rules. It was a very small thing, but I had to make a stand for justice and also stand in solidarity with my hundreds and hundreds of Black American friends, colleagues, and former students. And in memory of my honorary grandparents, Bush and Ravella and their daughter Dot. So many people I know and love who had the opposite of a head start in US life simply due to the color of their skin.
Incidentally, a newspaper photographer showed up and took our pictures at this rally, but as there weren’t any juicy scoops to be had, the pics didn’t go viral. Even a telephoto lens couldn’t make this particular crowd look too dense!
All the Guards and Park Rangers who came around expressed sincere support for the cause.
It was a lovely and heartwarming event, and a story you probably didn’t hear on official news outlets.
…just let time drift by.
Since lockdown, I’ve come to know and love Phoenix Park. I truly hope it remains a place that’s safe for families, children, and people of all levels of ability to use safely.
One last set of views out across the Dublin Mountains, daydreaming and soaking in the peace and quiet: