Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Walking, Dublin (Sat, 23RD February, 2013)

Before Nelson’s pillar trams slowed, shunted, changed trolley, started for Blackrock, Kingstown and Dalkey, Clonskea, Rathgar and Terenure, Palmerston Park and upper Rathmines, Sanymount Green Rathmines, Ringsend and Sandymount Tower. Ulysses, James Joyce.

PraegerWalk0001_28Only thoughts reached by walking have value.Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche
In 1987 I saw him for the first time. I was crossing Central Park in the back seat of a Hyundai being driven by my wife, V. The traffic stalled a moment and I looked across to the oncoming traffic, also stalled, and saw my doppelgänger in the back seat of the opposite car. Our jaws — both of which had a rufous-coloured carpeting of beard — dropped simultaneously, and simultaneously we were whisked away a few moments later by the renewed flow of traffic to live out our lives in opposite directions. Those paths crossed again yesterday, a quarter century later. I saw him strolling down Rathmines Road Lower in Dublin carrying his bags of shopping. We were both alone, both on foot, both now with long white hair, and both gray bearded. We performed a furtive mutual inspection, then, though it was barely perceptible, shuddered, before taking off once again to complete our lives elsewhere. There are directions beyond sensible reckoning in which a person may fly or drive or walk, so it is unlikely, even if we both were to live another hundred years, that we will encounter each other again.

I set out recently to walk towards Dublin city center with a destination but no especial route in mind. The point of departure was my childhood home in Templeogue Village — until the 1950s fairly discrete from Dublin city — and the destination was the city center where I was to meet some friends at the Market Bar later in the evening. En route I wanted to inspect the “country home” of the Irish naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger (1865 – 1953) in Rathgar. In fact, I am back in Dublin for a couple of weeks to sift through the Praeger archives at the Royal Irish Academy in Dawson St. In the course of my previous investigations on Praeger — an author of over 800 papers and 20 books on Irish natural history — I had learned that he had maintained a rock garden in his Rathgar home. I wanted to see if this rockery persisted in some form. Three points: Templeogue, Zion Road in Rathgar, and the Market Bar triangulated the route, though the passage was determined by the limits of my endurance (I am, after all, a man of 49 years), and my vague interest in punctuality (though friends in a Dublin pub tend to find things to do whilst waiting on an errant party member). As is the tradition among Irish naturalists, I sustained myself with a bar of chocolate.

Read on (here)

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