A day in our beautiful Capitol.


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After a couple of intense weeks, full of gardening, decorating, building and having friends over, we decided that a day away from it all would be nice. We set out from the train station in Castlerea at 8.18 yesterday morning. The train is a comfortable way to get to Dublin, with nice views along the track, a toilet if needed and a table for reading books on.

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If you have a day to spare, or even just a few hours, IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, is always worth a visit.  It is very close to Heuston Station, where our train pulled in. The building is very big and used to be the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.There is a lovely Museum shop, a cafe and a beautiful garden to wander around in.

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Our favourite visit to this museum was a few years back when it hosted a Frida Kahlo exhibition. Yesterday’s main exhibition was a bit of a disappointment to us; Grace Weir: 3 Different Nights, recurring.  We found the work to be very pretentious, with the main theme, three different nights represented by three identical looking framed black squares spaced out across a wall. There was also a few different films, one in which a person who we think is the artist walks in a snowy landscape, takes a couple of steps, pauses, takes a couple of more steps, pauses and picks up a stick, takes a couple of more steps, pauses and so on…

We came away from this exhibition with very few emotions, apart from mild amusement and a disappointing emptiness. We believe art should make you feel and react, and there was very little of that despite Grace Weir apparently being one of Ireland’s most compelling and respected artists.Thankfully we were not allowed to take any photos.

Fortunately there were some more interesting exhibitions as well, the most moving being Shot at Dawn, a work by the British photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews which focuses on the places at which soldiers from the British, French and Belgian armies were executed for desertion and cowardice during the First World War. There were names, times and dates added to the photos that were all taken as close as possible to the real season and time of the execution. It is very sad to think about all those soldiers, most of whom were just suffering from shell shock,  who were killed in this cruel and unnecessary way.

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We went to have lunch in the beautiful cafe, located in the cellars of the building, a place with a vaulted ceiling and very deep window niches. Satisfactorily refreshed we went on to look at the more permanent exhibitions, part of the museums own collection and to finish our visit off, we strolled around the garden. A walled place with very formal planting it is possibly as different from our own as any garden can be, but never the less a very pleasant place to be.

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After this we still had a couple of hours until our train departure back home, so we walked over to the National Museum of Ireland, located at the Collins Barracks, for a wander around the exhibitions. It is in itself a lovely museum, well worth a full days visit. We were amused to find some old packages exhibited from Monica Duff’s, the well known former department store in the square of Ballaghaderreen, now closed for many years.

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We came back home, full of impressions and with slightly aching feet. We love going to Dublin now and again, but what we love most of all is coming back home again to the wild, beautiful West of Ireland and our own house and garden. There is no place like home.

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