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Monday, October 4, 2010

MORE EIRE

Charlie Connelly, author of Our Man in Hibernia
and The Unknown Playwright, author of Broadway Vampire


So, there had to be more, right? 

Above you see two ukulele strumming authors. I first met Charlie Connelly when he came to NY Uke Fest in 2007. We stayed in touch over the internet. As it happened , his new book Our Man in Hibernia was being launched while I was in Dublin. Which meant that I was likely a pest but we did get together at an evening club event The Irish Sunday Times sponsored  to help launch the book.

Charlie is the author of eight books, BBC radio correspondent, and a collector and player of the ukulele. Our Man in Hibernia is a witty and loving examination of his move from England to Ireland to be with the love of his life and fellow journalist Jude Leavy. It's witty and engaging and has earned a place on my bookshelf right next to Sarah Lyall's The Anglo Files.

Brian Henderson's 60th Birthday 
(l to r., me, a friend, Brian Henderson)

Painter Brian Henderson was a long-time stalwart on the New York art scene for many years before returning to his native Dublin. Seeing him when I walked into Chez Gormley (Dublin edition) for the first time sort of threw me. I'd just finished a long trek that included a first class flight to Heathrow, a layover of a few hours in London, a train from Euston Station across England and Wales for several hours to Holyhead where I boarded the Ulysses, pride of the Irish Ferries line and  the slow boat to Dublin. Then public transport and finally a cab to Pembroke Road, where I walked in to see not only Brian but another face I knew from someplace else.

Anyway, Brian was definitely part of the picture while we were there, and a welcome one I must say. He dropped by on the evening of his 60th birthday. (His studio, btw, is really well-appointed. Most American artists would give their proverbial eye teeth -- whatever the hell they are -- for a place like this. Like my host Brian Gormley, Brian Henderson creates beautiful abstract paintings -- though their styles are quite different. Henderosn also likes to shoot photography of black women in tight, scanty vinyl outfits.

The Dublin Museums and exhibits are outstanding. I was invited to the gala opening of the National Gallery of Ireland exhibit: Gabriel Metsu -- Rediscovered Master of the Dutch Golden Age. Brilliant! I'm surprised that it debuted in Ireland and not the Netherlands. You've likely never heard of Metsu but by all means make a point of looking at his work, especially if you happen to find yourself in Dublin anytime while the show is still up (thru Dec 5)

The Dublin Writers Museum was a treat. I spent a full morning there checking it all out. I found out about writers I'd never heard of but should have, and learned more about writers who have long been favorites of mine. Imagine America having a museum honoring its writers. Hah! Fat chance. That means we as a nation would have to respect ideas and storytelling that goes beyond car chases, old bones, cops and shoot 'em ups.

I also got to see the Sir John  Lavery exhibit "Passion and Politics" at the Hugh Lane Gallery -- really a museum. Arthur Keating and his wife have a very rare piece loaned to this show. It's a painting of a young girl by Hazel Lavery, Sir John's American-born wife who became famous as the beautiful woman on the Irish bank notes (until the Euro came along).  The evening of the same day that I saw this show, Arthur and Vera had a going away dinner for us (mentioned in the other blog).

There's a lot of angst in Dublin these days. Everywyhere you look there are "To Let" signs on offices. The economy is hard hit by the collusion between 3 American presidents (Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama) with the criminals on Wall Street who destroyed the world economy. The Irish will survive though, as we all will. There will always be Guiness.

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