Friday, April 18, 2014

Morning, Good Friday.

‘Fiction was invented the day Jonas arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale.’
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

From that point on, fiction has had quite a journey. In Spanish, it stops to admire the view twice. Notably with the 16th century Miguel de Cervantes (29 September 1547  – 22 April 1616), whose ‘Don Quixote’ is regarded as the greatest work of fiction in any language. And, more recently, with Gabriel García Márquez, who died last night (April 17th 2014) after being treated during the month for dehydration and infections at a Mexican hospital.

Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey in 2007
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey in 2007. Photograph: Tomas Bravo/Reuters

The Colombian’s significance is evident from the familiarity of “One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera", works that ring a bell even for the not-so-avid readers. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

They’ll be flying the flags at half-mast all across Colombia as President Juan Manuel Santos declared three days of national mourning. Strangely, it’s not the first time that the world has prepared to mourn the loss of the literary giant. In 2000, a poem was disseminated that convinced all that Marquez had, or was just about, to pass away. It was a hoax, but it made many realise how much they should treasure him.

‘What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.’ - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

‘It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.’ - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A person doesn't die when he should but when he can.’ – 100 years of Solitude

Personally, I have yet to discover the extent of the rich quality of his works, but I will always remember him. Every year. On April 18. When I recall the morning I learned of his passing - my 27th birthday.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Old Dublin custom of visiting St. Patrick's Well

Quality Irish knitwear and crafts shops grace Nassau Street in Dublin city centre. The Porterhouse, Kilkenny Design Shop and Celtic Note (and check the Irish mythology wall between the two!) are some of my favourites on the street. Well, on one side of the street. The high railings of Trinity College border the other side.

Notice how much higher the street is compared to the college? Most of the streets are several feet higher than they were 500 years ago. Nassau street, however has another cause besides medieval refuse. In 1685 the Thingmote was levelled and the earth brought to fill the street and make it 'grande', as the Wide Streets Commission saw it. Ah sure, for Dubliners, sure it was grand already.

And it wasn't just the havoc of roadworks that should annoy denizens. Something was covered. A sacred shrine.

An old St. Patrick's Day tradition in Dublin was to visit the holy well of St. Patrick and immerse you shamrocks and maybe even yourself in the holy waters once blessed by our patron saint.

The junction of Nassau & Dawson streets

At the side entrance of Trinity College

Glimpse down through the railings

The entrance to the well 

In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote 'Verses Occasioned by the Sudden Drying Up of St Patrick's Well near Trinity College, Dublin'. Being the wonderful satirist that he was, the title does not betray its contents, remininscent of 'A Modest Proposal'. It was, I assume, the intentional filling in of the well that forced Swift enraged pen. Besides his usual impressive writing, Swift substantially demonstrates his historical knowledge.

Click here to view the poem.

I hope you read it. Read it. Now!

Good. (I hope you read it.) It's a narrative of the author and St. Patrick basically cursing at the British. So, yes, that's why it was only published after Swift's death.

I wonder if Swift wasn't also lamenting, as a portent, not so much the changing of the street name from 'St. Patrick's Well Lane' with 'Nassau St.' but the fact that since Irish Independence we have neglected to revert the name. Most Dubliners have no idea, it seems, that 'Nassau St.' was named after King William III, a member of the House of Orange-Nassau.

So if you want to want to visit the well, you'll have to ask Trinity authorities to gain access.

Georgian-era brickwork*

Underlying ancient stones*

St. Patrick's Well - thought to be once up to 20ft deep now roughly a mere 4ft*

At least it's much more accessible than Dublin's OTHER St. Patrick's Well, buried under the park beside St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

Sure, we couldn't have just one.