“I think being a woman is a bit like being Irish. Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second best all the time”–Iris Murdoch
Lately I’ve been trying to get a job working at a museum. I don’t think it’s going to work, but nevertheless I’m trying. The museum that I had my eye on, other than my favorite Leprechaun Museum (see Ireland spring break post in March 2016), is the Dublin Writer’s Museum. So today being another day off for me, meant that I went on a little field trip with a side solicitation.
And then my field-trip turned into another high point of my day (the first being a 6:45 workout session this morning). I spent two-and a half hours there snickering to myself as I listened to the audio guide, and read the biographical snippets on the walls.
From the founder of satire Mr. Jonathon Swift, to the rebelliousness of James Joyce, comes a band of poets, authors, and playwrights with a bitter sense of humor, a biting tongue, and a glorious wit that I thought only the English were capable of. If you asked an Irishman, he’d probably tell you English wit was colonized from the Irish.
But most importantly, I got a historical and cultural lesson into understanding who the Irish are. One of the first things I noticed with Irish people when I moved here was their dark sense of humor, national pride, and patriotic distaste of the English. After experiencing the charm, sorrows, and heartbreak of the Dublin Writer’s Museum, I’ve gotten a better understanding of where, why, and how that seemingly homogeneous attitude has taken its roots from.
“The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast”–Oscar Wilde
Culture and attitude aside, the Writer’s Museum was charming, witty, amusing, and incredibly informational. It was like I got to walk through time and meet these dead men and women through their biographies and interpretations of their works, and learn from their triumphs and their mistakes. One author hated publicity so much that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and refused to attend his own ceremony. Yeats was lovestruck over a woman who didn’t love him back for thirty years before moving on and happily marrying someone else. Oscar Wilde was married with children, lived an eccentric life, and was imprisoned for homosexual acts for two years that nearly broke him. James Joyce was the definition of rebellion and family disappointment after moving away from Ireland at 22 and never permanently returning, yet his heart remained in Dublin. Going through these stories of “successful” people, particularly artists, reminds me that no one lives an easy life, and artists are some of the bravest and smartest people I’ve “met”. From van Gogh, to Edgar Allen Poe to John Mayer, artists are the people who can turn their misfortunes and their triumphs into a learning tool at best, and entertainment at worst. They inspire wisdom, uncover truths, and instead of covering up their personal problems regarding lovers, politics, or society, they use them to make money and make an impact.
Of course, the irony is that most of the time these people are dead before we realize they had something meaningful to say. Tangent aside, I highly recommend the Dublin Writer’s Museum. And if you ever come to visit me, I’ll take you there myself.
“When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart”–James Joyce