The Cultural Experience that is Irish Cinema

When I left my apartment for a walk last night, I wasn’t really expecting to have my heart ripped out of my chest, torn to pieces and then sewn back together again before being violently shoved back in. But alas, things happen.

It was a tiring week at Champlain Dublin, with long days and lots to do. Honestly, the homework hasn’t gotten too bad yet, but for some reason this week had managed to feel more mentally taxing than most. I wonder if  maybe those three-hour class blocks are finally getting to me. Or maybe it’s just all that running around the city, exploring new places and seeing new sites.

Either way, last night I was feeling pretty done. I was exhausted and wasn’t really feeling in the mood to do much of anything. So when Sarah suggested we get out of the apartment for a bit, I’ll admit I was unsure. But I also knew that it was only 7pm, she and Abbie were tired too, and that neither of them would push me to do anything too over-the-top. The weather was pleasant, and I figured a nice, slow walk around Dublin might help clear my head, maybe even relax me a bit. The three of us are pretty like-minded people, so I knew we might even end up getting warm drinks from a cafe or going on a late-night bookstore run. I was in.

So the three of us ambled out of Apartment 29 while our other roommate, Courtney, left to find a few friends willing to do more exciting things than the three of us were. She wasn’t home when I went to sleep last night, and she’s still asleep now, so I hope she had a good time.

Abbie, Sarah, and I just rambled along for awhile, arbitrarily deciding which direction to turn. We went left to cross the Liffey, knowing we hadn’t explored that area as much as we had the South side of Dublin, but from then on it was pretty random. We crossed streets based on which walking symbol flashed green first, and turned corners when we decided a particular street had gotten too boring. Of course we used our best judgement — it was only 7:30pm or so by this point, but still dark and we knew we ought to be careful.

Eventually we ended up on some familiar streets and made our way toward the giant, glowing Jervis Shopping Center to mill around inside for a bit. Sarah found a place to get some steamed milk, extra foamy but not as good as the milk her go-to guy at Caffe Noto makes. We left the Jervis Center from the other side and ended up in front of the ever-famous Penney’s. (For those of you who don’t know, Penney’s is a giant clothing store with cute stuff and amazingly low prices.) Against our better judgement, we went inside.

The three of us roamed the racks for a bit, feeling the soft materials and fawning over the prices. Miraculously, we resisted temptation, saving our euros for trips and sightseeing and exiting on the opposite side of the building.

Not expecting to be familiar with the street, we were surprised to see the Woolshed Baa, the site of karaoke night and our failed American football excursion. Earlier in the evening, Sarah and Abbie had been commenting on how they’d always kind of wanted to just show up at a movie theater and see the next movie playing. Conveniently, Cineworld Cinemas was right next to the bar. So that’s what we did.

Now, you may be thinking that this is pretty lame. You’re in Dublin and you’re going to the movies? But let me tell you, this was a cultural experience. I’m serious. First of all, we ended up going to see Room, an Irish film based off a book by an Irish author. But if that wasn’t enough, then the theater itself was. This 4-story theater with 17 screens wasn’t like anything I had seen before. The first shock was that we got to pick our seats. What? Yeah. When you go up to the counter to purchase your ticket, you also get to pick out which seat in the theater you want on a big computer screen. Luckily, our movie wasn’t too packed, so we had plenty to choose from.

A screen-grab from Room. Go watch it.
A screen-grab from Room. Go watch it.

One escalator ride up and we encountered the Cafe Bar. A cafe, and a bar, inside the movie theater. They had an entire lounge area where you could sit and drink, or you could just take your beverage to the theater with you. Abbie and I scoped out the prices for some lattes,  but apparently even in Ireland you can’t avoid that movie theater mark-up.

So we took the escalator up once more, where we found the snack bar, similar to what you’d find in an American theater but still pretty fancy. They even had coolers with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream you could purchase. We smiled at the little reminder of home.

Next to our theater entrance was a little ice cream place. An actual Baskin Robbins ice cream counter selling sundaes and the whole shebang. Inside the movie theater building! This place was basically the most elaborate theater we’d ever seen. And we hadn’t even gotten into our seats yet, which were big and super-comfy. My butt didn’t hurt once.

I don’t know if all Irish movie theaters are this fantastical, but this one sure knew how to make movie-going an experience. And then there was the whole heart-being-ripped-out thing as we watched the emotional drama that is Room. I won’t spoil it, but it’s worth a watch, especially if you can do it in such a fancy Irish cinema.

Emotionally drained, but satisfied with our evening, we returned to Apt. 29, ready for hot showers, snacks (peanut butter for me!), and our soft beds.

Featured image courtesy of Irish Times.

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