In Dublin as a Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Long Room Hub. A Memoir
My arrival in Dublin last May was different from all the other times I visited it over the past years. I felt, then, that I actually lived in Dublin and worked at the Long Room Hub which impressed me for its sociable effervescence and friendliness during its innumerable activities permitting intellectual integration. I also noticed that in the fourth floor, quiet, concentrated scholars, worked for hours on their research. My office was an ideal space for reading and writing. To leave behind my busy life in São Paulo, to have weeks ahead to spend at the Hub was a dream! On the table ten books borrowed from the Library wait: I begin with Histoire de la Violence. The light is perfect, silence complete – what else do I need?
When tired, I cross to the Common Room, my favourite corner, to rest and to recollect ideas in tranquility. Going to the different libraries to examine books in their shelves was also fascinating. I met Eiléan Ní Chuilleanain twice in the Classics section, deeply involved in her quest.
Perhaps because I am staying in the very centre of the city I meet many people by chance. On one of such occasions, my Brazilian friend, Patricia O’Neill O’Flaherty sees me in Grafton Street and we start speaking Portuguese excitedly; shortly afterwards, while waiting for the traffic lights to change, someone calls my name – it’s Vincent Woods, who has visited my university twice. We decide to meet at the Mock Alley Theatre where Michael Longley will read the Aeneid – Book VI, translated by Seamus Heaney. When I immediately try to book for the reading, I am informed that it is sold out. I console myself by going to Books Upstairs (now on D’Olier Street) to buy Heaney’s recent book. At the coffee shop I cannot resist a pistachio cake with hot chocolate. I love these corners in Dublin…
Another unexpected encounter happened on Bloomsday: in front of Davy Byrnes, among the crowd, I am glad to meet John Banville who lectured at the University of São Paulo in 2002.
But not all encounters are by chance. I am invited by Caroline Phelan whom I met in Brazil when she was working at the Irish Embassy in Brasilia, to see Da Vinci exhibition at the National Library and also our favourite J. B. Yeats paintings.
Another memorable event was Jane Ohlmeyer’s reception for a large group of researchers at her beautiful house in Camden Row, where I had the pleasure to talk to Sucheta and Bodh, from India, and to colleagues from various universities. What I remember most from that evening is Simon’s and Jane’s hospitality and friendliness.
My adventure at the GPO is a cherished memory too. After having lunch with Maureen Murphy, she told me she had brought to Dublin an Irish tri-colour belonging to the Lower Manhattan Society all the way from the States so that the flag could be raised at the GPO. We were taken to the roof top and were witnesses to the raising of that flag over the GPO a hundred years after the Rising. The flag fluttered in the breeze – it was a very moving moment! Later, it was taken back to mark the occasion in a parade in New York.
There are so many memories! One which I treasure most is going to the Abbey to see Murphy’s The Wake on my last evening in Dublin, and, to my surprise, I see Jane and Simon in the bar upstairs. After the play we crossed O’Connell Bridge and walked through a still lively Grafton Street to Stephen’s Green where we said good bye.
I am deeply grateful to the dedicated scholars and staff of the Long Room Hub for making my secondment so pleasant and so meaningful from the personal and academic point of view: Jane, Jennifer, Deirdre, the two Sarahs, and Aoife have been very generous with their time, very understanding and full of interest.
My stay in Dublin happened three months ago: when I arrived in May, the tulips were blooming in Stephen’s Green; now, it’s springtime in São Paulo, my orchids are lovely, but I long for the tulips…