Saturday, April 13, 2013

Last Day in Ireland – This Time

A couple of days ago, I was beavering away in the Dublin Deeds Registry, working solo as  is sometimes the case on days when the weather is lousy, when I noticed that my V-neck sweater was on backwards. The label, now beneath my chin, had become itchy. An hour of climbing ladders and hauling down tombstones – the 20 pound, bound books of parchment memorials of deeds – will have that effect on a misplaced label. It crossed my mind that I could just whip my arms out of my sweater and fling it around, but then I remembered the surveillance cameras.  

Kings Inn built in 1800 – home of the Registry of Deeds as well as where barristers hang out doing what barristers do.

I am fully aware of these cameras because years ago, I got busted for taking flash-free photos of memorials. This was common practice by many others at the time - in spite of the occasional sign saying not to.

With these new surveillance cameras in mind, I still regret that I didn’t take a picture of page 187 of the Carlow townland Index #16 before I got busted. On that particular page there is a crude drawing of a man in uniform, with a tall, flat-topped hat and visor, facing a woman in a long dress. He has one leg up as if marching, and is sporting an erect penis about the length of his thigh.

There is a speech bubble above his head: How dare you, seeing I married you?
"Mrs.” replies,   So you did, you villein.

This is just one instance of what gets unearthed when we travel and can see the actual records in the flesh, so to speak. This particular one made me feel that I had glimpsed at least something of a window into the life of a poor bored clerk who day after tedious day had done work that now made my work possible. Surprises, though rarely of this ilk, are a part and parcel of the adventure.

 On the shoulders of others ....

One more thing to note: When it comes to helping out the Irish economy, Ireland and her archives need our help. Many countries, and Ireland is no exception, find it challenging to fund archives, libraries and such. Cost-benefit analyses done by governments tend to get ignored in favour of spending priorities that elected folk think have more sizzle. Sporting events come to mind.

This year, Ireland initiated an outreach program -The Gathering - inviting tourists to come check out their ancestry.  As a result, Aer Lingus flight bookings are up, and I also know that The Fleet Street Hotel – where I have stayed three times on this trip – was fully booked this past week. People like me are booking these flights, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and buying local books and such, and some like me, do it year after year. It isn’t a case of been there, done that.  There is always more to see, more to learn.

My only wish as I wrap up another trip is that some of those tourist dollars could help fund the very museums, art galleries, and archives which bring so many of us to Ireland. Is anyone listening out there? Here’s hoping.

PS This is being written and posted as I am on the homeward leg of my trip – but I do plan to return.

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