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December 17, 2008

Christmas in Ireland

Red HoodieIT'S THE SEASON FOR searching for photos related to Christmas in Ireland. I've five years of Christmas memories recorded on Typepad's servers, including some shots taken with a Nokia Bluetooth camera (see left), a Sony Clie and others snapped with several Fujifilm cameras. I shot the little people walking on Grafton Street one wet December day in 2003. Today, those same kids probably have cameraphones of their own. They take, save, and share Christmas pictures of their own. Years ago, I never thought that every phone would incorporate a camera. Now, it's paramount because sharing moments will always evoke visual memories.

Christmas Rush in DublinIt's December 2004 (at left in Dublin's Grafton Street) and I made the pilgrimage to hear the Christmas music coming from Brown Thomas. Grafton Street is one of my litmus tests of integration to Ireland. When I first arrived in Ireland from Germany, I was inundated with English being spoken everywhere on Grafton Street--just look at the crowd! I shot the rush hour crowd (at left) while walking with a Fujifilm S602Z on my chest. In my pocket, I carried a Nokia 9210i Communicator. It also connected to a Bluetooth camera that I had purchased with the big brick of a phone but the images weren't as sharp as what came from the S602Z. You could get a real buzz on Grafton Street in 2004 because the Celtic Tiger was in full swing. People carried Brown Thomas bags with things packed inside from BT itself. A few years earlier, I watched pedestrians walk into other shops with the BT bags and fill up with cheaper stuff. Carrying a full BT bag was like coming home from a power-shopping trip to NYC with your luggage brimming full of gifts. If you're in Ireland during the Christmas season, I think Grafton Street in the late afternoon is a required walk. In 2004, I heard voices from around Ireland walking all around me. In 2008, it's easy to pick out the sound of Polish, Romanian, and Latvian citizens since Ireland has grown a significant migrant population.

Christmas SconesBy December 2005, I discovered Christmas pastries (at left in Dublin's Herbert Park Hotel) so I became a very happy camper. I took the gastronomical challenge to heart and can now report that two stone later, there are several noteworthy venues in Dublin where pastry chefs know how to serve Christmas delicacies with flair. The Clarence, the Westbury, the Dylan, the Westin--all these Dublin city centre venues take their Christmas coffee sessions very seriously. I still had my Fujifilm S602Z camera in late 2005 and I also started snapping some cameraphone images with my Nokia 9500 but the ease of the S602Z won all the time. If I have my way, I'll take Ruth out for a stroll around Dublin this Christmas season and we'll compare notes about the quality of the Christmas pastries that we find on offer.

Grafton Street ChristmasThere isn't a December that passes without me checking out the action on Grafton Street in Dublin city centre. I have some personal haunts along this high street. I enjoy winding up the guy who answers your luggage questions on the top floor of Brown Thomas and while in that shop, I don't stop looking until I find the smallest men's garment costing at least €1000. I found a shirt priced €1125 in December 2006 inside Brown Thomas. I wonder how the recession is biting that garment range now. Both Burger King and McDonald's are good for diversions as well, with McD's offering free wifi to my Nokia E90. If you walk the length of Grafton Street, you'll have to stop at least once for the buskers and during the Christmas season, it's not unusual to hear a six-piece string section playing Christmas music.

What McDonagh Should BeUnder the shadow of the IFSC in Dublin sit dozens of coffee shops and some upmarket boutiques like those in CHQ alongside the River Liffey. In December 2007, twelve artists decorated some lovely Christmas trees and I snapped the display with my Fujifilm S7000 camera. You can get your Starbucks fix inside CHQ and lovely bunnies by the bay. We're headed back into CHQ for pre-Christmas sales since the downturn has ravaged some of the boutique shops, making easy pickings for those brave enough to splash the cash before the end of 2008. And we'll return here to this blog with a Christmas images from December 2008.

My Christmas photos on Flickr.
Previously -- "Christmas Pictures" 25 December 2003 from Kilkenny, "White Christmas" in Kilkenny on 25 December 2005 and "Christmas in Ireland" from Cashel on 7 November 2007.

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