An Easter to Remember

Remember a few posts back when I got all excited about my really interesting Irish history class? And I went on and on about how this year is the 100th anniversary of the famous Easter Rising in Dublin?

No? I don’t blame you. For a refresher, check it out here. This weekend was actually a lot like the weekend I talked about in that post. We had a nice easy balance of adventure and relaxation. The difference was that this weekend was Easter Weekend! It’s a pretty big deal here, even without the whole 1916 Rising commemorations thrown in, so we had a beautiful four-day weekend to enjoy.

Friday and Saturday were pretty mellow; the busy semester is beginning to get to us all. Abbie, Sarah and I went on another bookstore adventure on Friday to Books Upstairs, where I managed to stay strong and avoid purchasing any books. I cannot say the same for my dear friends.

On Saturday we ventured north of the river to look at some art in the Hugh Lane Gallery, and before we knew it it was Sunday. The big day. Now, we couldn’t be in Dublin on such a historic occasion and not go to at least one of the commemorations happening. So what did we choose? The parade of course.

Sarah’s brother is in town this week, so while she waited for his plane to arrive on Sunday morning, Abbie and I hit the streets. Now, Abbie and  I are not exactly crowd people. We’re more one-or-two-friends-in-a-quiet-cafe people. So going out into the throngs of people that had descended upon Dublin was a pretty big deal. Luckily, the parade route was set to pass just five minutes away from our apartment, so we didn’t have to go far.

The elusive Wilkinsons. Don't worry, they'll show up again later.
The elusive Wilkinsons. Don’t worry, they’ll show up again later.

Anybody else seen the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? I imagine Dublin’s Easter parade this year was similarly elaborate, just with less dancing and fewer balloons. This was a military parade, so floats weren’t really a thing. It was more about remembering an historic moment in the country’s history, and commemorating the lives that were lost that week.

There were some tanks though!

All in all, the event was interesting. They had big screens set up everywhere to show special 1916 programming on, and there were events being held around the city, from Kilmainham Gaol to the General Post Office on O’Connell Street. The parade itself wasn’t as fluid as we thought it would be; the marchers were actually stopped in front of us for over an hour before they started back up again.

After about two and a half hours on scene, Abbie and I were chilly and ready to head home. The parade itself wouldn’t end until 3pm, and we’d been there since 10am. So home we went… Sort of?

Here’s the thing, when Abbie and I arrived at the parade route, we crossed the street so that we could stand where it was less crowded. Our problem then became how to get back across the street so we could actually get to our apartment. We tried asking this one member of the Garda where we could cross, and he informed us, “We’ve waited 100 years for this. So it’ll probably be about 40 minutes.” Fair enough, I suppose, though I could hear the sass in his voice. It was probably because we were American.

Some nice bystanders happened to overhear us though, and told us there was a larger crossing point just down the street a bit. We headed that way and, after getting a little help from a much friendlier Garda, we found our way to a large footpath that was being opened and closed as the parade stopped and started. We got through easily. I don’t know why the first guy couldn’t have just told us that.

Anyway, all things aside, the Easter commemorations were worth seeing. It certainly wasn’t like any Easter I’ve had before, and I’ll admit that I missed the familiarity of home. But it was a good holiday nonetheless.

The highlight of my weekend, however, was probably our afternoon spent in Dun Laoghaire today. We took the DART train (after a minor setback involving a closed station) down the coast to visit the little seaside town and stroll along the ocean. We spent the time exploring, looking at lighthouses, grabbing a cuppa in a local cafe, watching some daredevils brave the frigid sea, and even climbing a tower.

Ah, the Irish sea.
Ah, the Irish sea.

Just being by the sea and smelling the ocean made me feel better. I don’t live anywhere near an ocean, but the smell still feels familiar, perhaps because the only times I’ve been around the ocean were spent with my family. Either way, it was, somehow, like a little piece of home. The sun was shining and  their were children everywhere. We passed countless ice cream sellers and families out by the sea for the day. If it weren’t for the slightly chilly temperatures, I would’ve sworn it was summer.

Oh, hey look, a lighthouse.
Oh, hey look, a lighthouse.

And it was nice to get out of the city, too. I’d forgotten how much I loved breathing in fresh, open air. That’s one thing about my little hometown you can’t always find everywhere else, especially not in a big city like Dublin. And a city it is. We’d been back in town for five minutes before we were squeezed along the crowded sidewalks of Dame St. I’ll be sure not to take the open space for granted anymore.

This little cutie was extra smiley today.
This little cutie was extra smiley today.

Anywho, that’s Easter weekend in a nutshell. There was also a lot of reading, Breaking Bad, and some Cheetah Girls involved. So you know, pretty darn good.

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