Friday, September 18, 2009

The Fringe Festival has been going on in Dublin. This is a performance festival that happens all over the city at various locations, with all kinds of performance. We went to a show called Nurse Me that was held at St. Brendan's Hospital at Grangegorman. St Brendan's Hospital was established in 1814, then known as the Richmond Asylum, and was one of the first Public Hospitals in Ireland designated to treat the mentally ill. Needless to say, not the most traditional setting for a play!

The audience was led into a small, candle lit room, and while the actress told the story, another actress took people, three at a time, into another room. Then we were led into a larger room, where the bulk of the action took place. The rooms were fantastic. Here are some photos, taken by the Fringe Festival photographer (the women in white dresses are obviously the performers):

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yesterday, Mark and I hopped on a 145 bus with our friend Hilary and went to Kilmacanogue to climb the Sugarloaf. It was well over an hour on the bus, which dropped us off at a gas station at the foot of a hill below the Sugarloaf. To get up to where people usually start, we had to walk an hour uphill on this windy road that was lined with nettles and thorns and didn't have much of a breakdown lane, so we had to keep crossing the road at the bends to maximize our visibility. We were yelled at by bikers zooming down the hill! But once we got to the top of the road, where most people drive up to to climb, it was beautiful.
On our way, we passed a few of these little shrines:

Here's a little shack on the road right before we got to the bottom of the Sugarloaf:

Off in the distance, there was the Sugarloaf:

Then, as we approached, there were friendly horses hanging out:

They let people go right up and touch them:

I took this big girl's photo, and then I guess I made the mistake of looking her in the eye too long because suddenly I got a funny feeling, and I said, "I don't like this!" and walked away, but she followed me! Having a horse follow you like a dog is a very bizarre thing! Eventually I was left off the hook.

They were just so beautiful...

It took about twenty minutes to climb to the top, and it was more of a scramble at some points, but the effort was well worth it. Here are our shadows, up at the top:

Of course there's no way to convey the view in its glory, but I still tried:

Click on this image to watch a short video of the view:
From Sugarloaf

And of course, happy feet:

Hanging out on the edge:

And coming down:

We had just enough time to grab a well-deserved pint at the pub next to the gas station, and then we hopped on the bus back to Dublin.
We had some American friends visiting this weekend! Hayley, Melanie, and Philip are here in Ireland to see the sites, and were kind enough to spend a couple of days with us in Dublin. On Friday, we met up with them and took them to Juice Restaurant, which they were very gracious about because they all eat meat! But luckily they liked all the food, and to be honest it's probably the healthiest meal they will eat during their stay in Ireland. By the time dinner was over, they were bushed, so we said good-bye to them and went off on our own.

Saturday morning, they took a tour of Trinity, and then we met up with them to hop on the DART to Howth, which is sort of like taking someone to Gloucester when they visit Boston. It's a cute little seaside town (not nearly as fancy or large as Gloucester though!). We walked along the water, where all the many sail boats were docked:

We decided to take the "ferry" out to Ireland's Eye, a little tiny island off of Howth. When I think of a Ferry, I think of a double-decker sort of boat bus. This was more like just a small motor boat, but whatever works! Here's the gang in the ferry:

Here's a light house we passed on the way:

A sailboat...

There's this cool fort on the island:

Once we got onto the island, we climbed up to the top of the hill, and hung out there for over an hour. Here's the view from there:

There's a cool abandoned abbey down there. In the background of this photo you can see the Galway Hookers. They are the sailboats with the red sails:

It was a beautiful sunny and warm day, so we really got a chance to enjoy the view:

Then we headed back to Dublin and ate dinner in Temple bar at Gallagher's Boxty House, which the visitors had said they really wanted to do. A boxty is a pancake made with potato cooked on a hot griddle, served with fillings, kind of like a crepe, but with sauce on top. Luckily they had a Vegetable Boxty, which was amazing. We left there full and happy.

We decided to show our guests a nice old Victorian pub, but one that wasn't too far, so we walked over to The Long Haul over on Georges Street:

We had a couple of drinks there, and then our tired friends needed to go rest for their big day of driving through the countryside. A long but very satisfying day!
When I first moved to Dublin, I saw repeated ads for this site called Movie Extras that supposedly finds you work as an extra in local TV and movie productions. I did a search of it, and it seemed like it was legit, so I paid the 89 euro to join. Well, my phone never rang and I got teased by Mark for falling for the scam. Once I ran out of savings, I thought regretfully of that 89 euro. Then I got an email from them saying that my date of birth wasn't listed, and I hadn't been coming up on agents' searches. I quickly updated my profile on the site, and sure enough, a couple of weeks later I got a text asking if I was available to be an extra on the local soap opera, "Fair City."

Was I!! Fair City is only, like, my favorite show! We watch it religiously, and if we miss an episode, we watch it online the next day. So when I got the text, I did a happy dance and texted back YES! I was told to bring 4 casual outfits, and that one scene would take place in McCoy's, the show's pub. No way! McCoys! I was so pumped.

I took the bus to RTE studios, and was told to watch out for a large antenna. I was so excited to be there, I took a photo of it (I had to collage two photos to get it all in):

At ten o'clock, they took me and the other Fair City extras into this waiting room, where I proceeded to sit until one o'clock:

At one, we broke for lunch and I went over to "the canteen," and while I was eating, I saw the actress that plays Carol talking on her cell phone outside. Then the guy who plays Paul walked in, wearing a very un-Paul outfit. I also saw another RTE guy, John Kelly, from The View (not to be confused with the American show).

Back in the waiting room, I was clearly the only one truly excited to be there. I had burning questions! Was Bella's limp real? (yes) Do they serve real alcoholic beverages at McCoys? (the beer is real but the spirits are not.) Is the actor who plays Annettes' husband, the American biker dude on the show really American? (no - he's Irish. I knew it!) I was truly jazzed.

Finally they called me and a bunch of other people in for the McCoy's scene. They used some of us, and the rest of us sat on the sidelines while it was filming. We sat next to The Hungry Pig, the burger joint. The set was SO much smaller than it looks on TV. All of the sets were. It's kind of amazing. Then I heard them say they needed one more extra, and the guy came in and chose ME. Finally! But when I walked in, the director said, "They're going to be at the bar talking to Charlie. Get an old man." So I had to go back to my seat, dejected.

Then a couple hours later, they told us all to change into our "Sunday best" for a scene at Vino's, the new tapas bar. I brought casual, but a couple of my outfits were on the dressy side, so I changed. I was called in with the rest, and my job was to walk into the restaurant, pretend to order something of the counter, and be handed a brown paper bag. Now, here's the thing. You have to do absolutely everything *soundlessly* because actually all the background noise of the public places are added in later. So I walked in, had to pantomime my order, and pantomime a thank you. I was so nervous! After all, as a lowly extra I didn't want to be responsible for screwing up the scene and have everyone look at me! But then, during one take, I was handed the bag, but the scene wasn't quite over, so I started to walk out with it, but I didn't want to open the door because I thought it might be to disruptive, so I kind of hesitated, and made a face. WHOOPS! They re-shot the end of the scene. No one said it was because of me, but I think it was. Oh well!

Then I was in another Vino's scene where I had to sit at a table with two guys and pretend to have dinner. The funny part about that was they put plates of food in front of you, but don't give you silverware. They poured each of us this sparkling grape juice that smelled about a week old. We had to pretend to drink it. One of the guys at my table would only nod, so the other guy and I had to pantomime the entire conversation. It was fun! We did about five takes. My back was to the camera the entire time. But I loved being there and I hope I get called again. When the show is on, I will definitely post screen shots!

Also, speaking of extras, I thought I would pass this along. There are a couple of local TV shows looking for audience members:

The programme is based on the hit TV3 show The Apprentice. They are looking for audience members for this Thursday in Swords. It follows a similar format to the UK Apprentice You’re Fired.
You can download an application form at

GLAS VEGAS – TG4 (filmed in RTE studios, Dublin)
They are currently looking for audience members for the fourth series of 'Glas Vegas', a TG4 variety show to be recorded this September in RTÉ studios, Dublin. Tickets are FREE and each show promises to be both weird and wonderful! There are five shows in total available so there's bound to be one that suits and you'll be well looked after in the RTÉ studios!
For more information check out -
Well, I guess I've been a little too busy livin' to write about it! So today it's my aim to get caught up.

Mark and I continued our pub tour of Dublin. The first one is on Dorset Street, and so I've passed by it at least a hundred times by now because it's on the way from our house into the city centre. The outside always reminded me of a 60s style American office building. There don't appear to really be windows, so you can't see in from the street to get an idea of what it looks like. Naturally, I thought it was going to be a dive inside:

However it wasn't a dive at all! It was a very nicely decorated place with vinyl-upholstered walls with mirrors and bank seating. Of course we were practically the only people in there under the age of 50. We took photos of the inside with the film camera, but they haven't been developed yet, so I'll have to insert them later.
EDIT: Here's the photo I took from inside with Mark's camera. As you can see, it's got some cool decor:

The pint was ok, but certainly not great. If I had a large group of people and I happened to be in the vicinity, I might suggest it, but I probably wouldn't think to go there again.

Then we ventured a couple blocks over to the Bodrhan pub, which is at the top of Parnell Square next to the Maldron Hotel. It's in an area that is mostly flats (American readers: "the flats" are basically a step up from tenement housing). The outside of the pub is hideously painted with fake stones and the inside is all new. I found a photo of it in flickr, with the heading "Ugliest Pub in Dublin?"

It sort of looks like a sports bar. It kind of reminds me of PA's Lounge in Somerville, MA, actually. But they have four euro pints so that was cool. We sat down a table over from these three dudes who were *totally* wasted, but still drinking. At one point, one of them was going up for another round and another guy says, "Get us three whiskeys," and the first guy say, "No. I'm gettin' us three pints," and I started to laugh and the second guy slurs to me, "Whatryou laughin' at?" And I just laughed again. Then the bartender had to bring the pints over because the first guy was too drunk to carry them. He didn't miss the opportunity to rat the guy out to his friends. Then about ten women came in from the flats, to the great interest of all the men present. Then at one point, a guy walking through randomly shouted, "Tipperary!!!"

When Mark was up getting drinks, a guy at the bar was complaining about Dublin and how it had gone to pot, but he was immediately put in his place by the bartender. All in all, there were many interesting characters to watch there!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My blog is read by people planning to move to Ireland and people who have recently moved here, so I thought I would give this little tip for those shipping items/having items shipped to them.

Always mark the contents as "Used Goods" or something to that effect. I did this for all the items I shipped to myself, and I furthermore put my own name as both the sender and recipient. I forgot to tell this to my sister when she sent me something I'd been storing at her place in the US since I moved here. She asked the postman at the US post office if she should indicate that it was my own belonging that she was sending to me, but he said no. So that probably explains why I received a notice in my mailbox that I had a package in a post office in Killbarack (nowhere near my house), and in order to get it, I'd have to pay over 46 euro customs. I called the post office who told me to call customs, who told me to go to the post with my immigration card and I could sort out. No such luck. When I got there, they said that was impossible, and they weren't in any position to change customs fees. Basically, if I wanted my package, I needed to pay the money, case closed. So, that's what I did. HOWEVER, when I got home I called customs again, and got a name and address of a person to whom I could mail my receipt along with proof that the item had been my own and proof that I was a permanent resident of Ireland. A couple weeks later, I received a check in the mail for 36 euro. I don't know why they couldn't have refunded the entire amount, but whatever. Still, between train and taxi fairs (the item was too big to walk with) and the ten euro I didn't get back, my mistake cost me well over twenty euro.

So, consider this a cautionary tale!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This past weekend Mark and I went up to Belfast, Northern Ireland to attend the Warzone Fest and the Belfast Anarchist Book Fair. Belfast is only a two hour drive or so from Dublin, surprisingly.

We didn't see much of Belfast because we arrived past dark on Friday, went to the Warzone show, went to someone's house, slept, woke up and went to the book fair, went almost directly to the Warzone's second show, and then back to the house to sleep. We had to leave early Sunday morning, so no chance for sightseeing! So I have to officially reserve judgment on Belfast for now. But between you and me, I thought the city was kind of an armpit. The nicest part seemed to be where we stayed, but anything off the beaten path seemed like it was boarded up and covered in bad graffiti. I took a couple of photos, but not many considering that I was mostly indoors all weekend.

But the main point is that we had a great time! The bands we saw at Warzone were a lot of fun, and I will say that Belfast has its fair share of really friendly, warm, and welcoming punks. I don't think I could go out in Dublin and talk to that many strangers.

In the book fair, which was held in a kind of small room, with workshops going on in the next room. The dude on the left is maybe the nicest guy ever:

The RAG table, where I sat all day.:

Mark talks to two new friends at the Warzone fest. I think the guy in the middle looks like he could be his cousin or something:

I like the guy in the background to the left. He looks like he's picking his nose.

Damo's band, "Sort It Out":

Our hosts were gracious and generous. But I admit I was happy to sleep in my own bed Sunday night :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I'm a little behind the times! Last week Mark and I went with his father to the National Photographic Archive to see an exhibit of photographs of Dublin from the 50s and 60s. It was really cool to hear the commentary from both of them about what's changed since then.

We moseyed over to St. Audoen's Church. Remarkably, they still give services there. We took the free tour, which was quite interesting -- maybe more so because of the eccentric/possibly autistic guy also taking the tour. I took a few photos, which were surprisingly allowed.

The gate going up into the church:

The (40) steps going to the church (do you think those orbs are ghosts?):

Here's the steeple:

Part of the church that has been "de-roofed":

The interior. I thought the skull was cool and unusual:

The gigantic pipe organ, and the lectern:

Window ledge. Those tiles are OLD:

Under the steeple:

The view of the inside from the steeple: