I meant to post this during the week, but it’s been a busy one! Better late than never I suppose.
Last Saturday morning I got the bus to Dublin, and the plan was to get the train to Carlow and be there at 2 PM. I must have jinxed public transport by writing my last blog post, because we had an interesting journey that took 2 hours longer than it was meant to. The bus was diverted two or three times, and we drove around the back roads of Donegal for what seemed like ages. I missed my train, so had to get a bus instead. We were delayed by a girl trying to take a bike on the bus and refusing to get off. I don’t really know exactly what happened, but she ended up being arrested, and we eventually left for Carlow. The rest of the weekend there was relaxing and straightforward, when I finally made it!
On Monday afternoon Nicky and I, and the two dogs got the train to Dublin to see Glen Hansard in Vicar St and stay in Dublin. We were there for almost 24 hours, and the thing that stood out a lot was how helpful people were, and how much they went out of their way to give us directions and make things easier. We stayed in the Upper Cross hotel which is often used by guide dog trainers when they are in Dublin. Because of this, they are very aware of the dogs and how to help. This makes things a lot easier.
We got to Vicar St before half seven, and met Jake on the door who looked after O.J the last time I was there. Himself and Hugh had organised assistance for us, and it was like we were celebrities! Jake and a guy called Kevin took us into the bar where we got a drink before the gig. I went to the merchandise stand to get the new Glen Hansard EP (which has an amazing cover of Springsteen’s ‘drive all night on it’, definitely worth checking out!) I met the frames manager Claire for the first time. Ive emailed her and talked to her online before, so it was great to finally meet her. Jake waited patiently while we chatted, she gave me the EP free, and gave O.J lots of cuddles which he appreciated.
Orrin and O.J stayed with us during Mark Geary’s performance. He had a drummer in the band so it was louder than I’d expected but O.J just slept. A staff member sat near us and if we wanted a drink or anything at all, she was ready to help. Before Glen and the band came on, we took the dogs to a store room where they could relax while the gig was on. They seemed to settle down no problem, and O.J wasn’t too excited when I came to get him three hours and 20 minutes later, which means he was quite happy staying there.
The gig itself was brilliant. The band was similar to the one we saw last year in Belfast, but I think they are all sounding even better together. The new songs are sounding great. The gig was a charity fundraiser for the
Peter MCVerry Trust
two charities which help people who are homeless in Ireland. Sam from the Simon Community and Peter McVerry himself came on stage to thank Glen and everyone for their support. It was a nice touch, and gave us a better sense of what the money was for. It’s nice when musicians raise money for organisations that they are actually involved in and know something about.
The next day, Nicky and I walked around a bit before a relaxing breakfast in Bewleys before we got buses home. I haven’t been there in years, and it started to make me feel a small bit Christmassy.
There’s so much talk of recession and negativity and bad news these days, so it was lovely to come to a busy city like Dublin and see it in a completely different way. People couldn’t have been more helpful. As a guide dog owner who doesn’t know one end of Dublin from another (I just follow Nicky everywhere), this was very useful. It was lovely to see staff working in their jobs, whether it was the hotel, restaurants, security people, or the amazing staff in Vicar St just taking time to chat and help, without going overboard or being patronising or annoying.
I’m tired, and not explaining myself very well. It’s very hard when you’re not in the mood to write. But basically the kindness of people last weekend really impressed me.
So, to connect music and helping people, if you’ve got a spare euro, go and download a song called ‘Christmas biscuits’ by Mark Geary and Glen Hansard. It was released last Friday, and proceeds go to the society of St. Vincent De Paul, helping people who might be struggling or alone this Christmas.
So there’s two music recommendations for you. Let me know what you think.