For some time now I've felt like an honorary citizen of Ireland, having married a girl from Dublin and been blessed with two children upon which my wife and I have bestowed the most Irish of names. I've visited the country numerous times over the last 15 years and find myself becoming more intrigued with its history, culture and music with each visit. I've witnessed first hand Ireland's rapid evolution under the influence of unprecedented economic growth and the tidal wave of change brought by the European union. Any such metamorphosis brings with it changes that are both good and bad. The skies of Ireland's major cities have in recent years become thick with giant construction cranes, and its citizens have seen real estate prices hit astronomical highs. Ireland's youth no longer are confronted with the economic necessity of emigration, and expatriates have begun to return home in increasing numbers. The country now faces ironic and unforeseen challenges in the wake of its stunning reversal of fortune.
In February we visited Ireland so Niamh could meet the European side of the family. I dubbed the trip Niamh's Euro tour 2003. Although it was a long journey to and from, Niamh travelled very well for a lass of less than three months old, passport in tiny hand. We arrived at Betty and Michael's home in Donaghmede, a suburb on the North side of the city, in the area known as Dublin 13 (based on the city postal code numbering system). Our first visit was to Lily Dunne, Niamh's great grandmother (Betty's mom) who lives in a flat in the city center. I got a wonderful photo of the four generations while we were there.
Dublin in February is typically cold and rainy as one would expect, but all things considered, the weather was quite mild. We took a rainy day trip into Dublin and had a late lunch at Oliver St. John Gogarty's in Temple Bar, which was a return to the location of our rehearsal dinner, and featured about the biggest smoked salmon appetizer I've ever consumed. I hardly had room for the main course. I advised against it, but Niamh insisted on ordering her first pint of Guinness. After downing the pint, she ordered a second, but settled in for a nap after only one sip (how wasteful). Well I had no choice but to finish it off for her.