Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)
- TITLE: Meeting at O'Connell Bridge
By dub W
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To get there we simply traveled away from the Spire on O'Connell Street, down Henry Street and Mary Street. The café sat at the junction of Mary St and Jervis St. She knew the owner, and we could sneak in the service door and sit quietly in a musty corner and chat before the cleaning crew arrived.
We were students then, a chance meeting in a class at Trinity. She was the top of the Irish Literature class and was considered an authority on George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Oscar Wilde. But, told me that she disdained Ulysses and Joyce. We were studying European literature in a special program. After classes we daily crossed the river to one of the popular coffee shops.
Seamus Heaney bought us a cup of coffee at the Metro Café. Personally, it wasn’t my favorite spot in the city, but she liked to be with the crowd and rub shoulders with the writers and would be poets who gathered there. One night she managed to get free passes to the Abby Theatre. We walked from the Café with a crowd and arrived in mass. It seemed like a scene Becket would approve, we were indeed storming the marble.
Often, on rainy weekends we went to the National Museum. The artifacts from the Viking period impressed me the most. There we could track Irish history through the revolution. Many times we simply avoided the crowds at the museum and stayed at school – pretending to study history for our classes we visited the Book of Kells . Even after the tourists had passed we could sneak in and stand in awe at the gospels. The intricate works contain the words of the Vulgate, a translation of the Bible by Saint Jerome in the fifth century. Sometimes we stood and stared, other times we prayed. A mystical sense that can only be described as “God’s presence” fills the room.
On cold winter mornings we often rode busses and went to St. Patrick’s for the day. St. Patrick’s is the oldest site of the Christian Church in Ireland. Other times we might ride out to Kylemore Abby and visit her sister and hike amid the ruins and restoration of the old estate. Her sister lives at the boarding school, and we enjoy our minutes together wandering the beautiful mountainside.
The night before our parting we went to Limerick to visit her parents. Her brother was a rugby player and that night we stood in driving rain on the banks of the Shannon river to watch him play.
The morning brought beautiful clear weather and we motored to Shannon Airport for my departure. We stood on the walks amid the buses and taxis and prayed together that someday we might be together again. We left saying those meaningless things “I’ll write and plan on a visit.”
This morning, I drank my tea and looked out over the Atlantic. Our gentle shoreline has not the majesty of the Cliffs of Morr. Though I love my country, my heart is still with her in Ireland.
Perhaps I should save a little for another class; catch a ride to Boston; negotiate a ticket to Dublin, and see if she still crosses O’Connell Bridge on Sunday.
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