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Week 3- Friday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 25, 2011 | No Comment |

I got up early on Friday morning to walk down to the Bretzel Bakery before class and buy challah rolls for Friday night.  The rabbi and his family are on vacation now, and it’s hard for the shul to find people to host me for Friday night meals because shul doesn’t end until around 9.  So I had to fend for myself.

The weather was really nice, and I enjoyed my walk a lot– I set out around 9:15 and I got back just in time to put my stuff away and go to my 11 a.m. class with Martin.  After I bought the bread, I walked a few more blocks to hit a very important landmark on my itinerary: Portobello Road.  (If you don’t know why this is an important landmark, you have to watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks.)  Unfortunately, nobody broke out into song and dance.  Maybe I have to go to the one in England for that.

I also passed by the house where George Bernard Shaw was born, but I couldn’t go inside the museum because it wasn’t open yet.

And on the way back I passed a supermarket, and I bought 10 more of the Muller fruit corner yoghurts that I’ve discovered, because they are really good.  I also bought Ben and Jerry’s as a Shabbos treat, because it was on sale for 3 euro (it’s usually about 6 euro here, which comes to $10 for a small container– so ridiculous!)

Class with Martin was a lot of fun: we went over all our scenes and I also did my Deirdre and my Nora monologues for him (we went to a separate room to go over those), and he liked them.

After lunch we had a cultural visit to the Marino Casino.  I’m having a very educational experience here in Ireland: it’s been my first time in a bar, my first time in a casino… just kidding.  The casino comes from the Italian word casine, meaning pleasure house, and the Marino Casino did not involve gambling of any sort– it was just a beautiful summer house designed by Sir William Chambers (who also designed some of the rooms at Rathfarnham Castle, by the way, and I do hope you appreciate the irony that Sir Chambers designed rooms) for James Caulfeild, the first Earl of Charlemont.  Sir Chambers never saw his finished work though, never having stepped foot in Ireland.

Marino Casino literally means “little pleasure house on the sea,” because it was on Dublin Bay (but what used to be water was filled in and is now Fairfield Par).  The casino is neoclassical, modeled on the Greek and Roman temples that Caulfeild saw on his extended 9-year Grand Tour, and is designed with a lot of illusions– even though no gambling goes on in it, the casino is, as the tour guide said, a house of cards.  From the outside it looks like the whole thing is one floor with a large ceiling, but really it’s an illusion– there are three storeys and sixteen rooms on the inside, plus a roof that the ladies would have painting lessons on.  The glass in the windows is curved so that you can’t see in from the outside: indeed, although people on the inside had a gorgeous view of the water, Dublin Mountains, the Sugarloaf (a mountain), and the Baby Sugarloaf (a volcano), nobody from the outside can see anybody inside or on the casino.  There was a tunnel underneath the casino to Caulfeild’s house on the property that he built when he got married, and the servants had to travel from the house to the casino and back through the tunnels.  Michael Collins later practiced shooting in those tunnels.

Caulfeild became obsessed with the casino and spent loads of money on it– he had a lavish tabletop covered in lapis lazuli, which was extremely expensive, and hugely expensive woods in the floor.  All the carvings and designs are symbolic of different things.  The dining hall had a six-pointed star in the floor: one triangle pointed to statues of Ceres and Bacchus (symbolizing that you will get food and drink here), the other to Apollo and Venus (symbolizing that intellectual needs will be filled as well).  Like in Rathfarnham Castle, there were ram heads carved in the corners– some theorize that the ram heads, in conjunction with the six-pointed star, are a sign for the Free Masonites.  There was also an Apollo sun-wheel on the ceiling that exactly matched the one in the hall of Rathfarnham Castle– apparently this was a common design to have on the ceiling at the time.

My favorite room was the gentlemen’s smoking room.  It’s the smallest in the casino, but it has the horoscope signs around an oval-shaped domed ceiling, designed so that you can’t see where the ceiling ends– it seems to extend ad infinitum.  In Caulfeild’s time there was a painting on the ceiling of the constellations as they were in the sky at the time of Caulfeild’s birth, so that when you looked up you saw into an infinite Milky Way.  The floor, as in many rooms in the casino, mirrored the ceiling, and the tour guide said that if you looked up for a few minutes, when you looked down the curved design on the floor made it look like it too extended ad infinitum, and that you were floating.

Caulfeild was apparently obsessed with the view from the casino, so when he had a falling out with Charles Ffolliott, the latter built the Crescent (nicknamed “Spite Row”) specifically to block the view of the sea from the casino.  Ffolliott added mismatched and asymmetrical windows and sheds to the backs of the houses to make them more unsightly, because he knew it would drive Caulfeild up the wall.  Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, grew up in the Crescent: the tour guide said he used to be a convalescent and he had terribly high fevers, and that some think the idea for Dracula came from one of his feverish nightmares.

More info on the casino is here.

We got back from the casino a bit late for the other study abroad program’s showcase, but we were able to sneak in between scenes.  (There are 2 study abroad programs at Gaiety– the four week program I’m doing and the six-week IES program.  They ended on Friday.)  They were very good, but I think our program has more talent.

After the program, I got back to the hostel and prepared for Shabbos, then I took a packed bus to the student center.  The man standing next to me on the bus started chatting, and I mentioned that I’m leaving Ireland soon to go to Israel.  Then I asked him where he was from and he said Jordan.  I was like, “Oh next-door neighbors… maybe not the friendliest of next-door neighbors, but…”

There was an Israeli woman named Faigy staying at the center (she’s touring alone) and she and Eleanor (an Israeli who lives at the center– she works in the mall selling hand creams here) and I ate together on Friday night.  Faigy had brought grapejuice, which was good, because I didn’t have any.  After the meal we went to bed.

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