Richmond Barracks: A Different Kind of (Hi)Story

To be honest, I was there to get some coffee. But then I sat down in this beautiful building just around the corner of the Red LUAS line at Blackhorse, Dublin and looked around me. This is an old building, but I couldn’t figure out what story it wanted to tell me.

Niall, my personal guide for the time spent there introduced himself before I walked down the hall to grab my cappuccino (it was alright, I really want to try lunch at The Mess Café). He took my big backpack (I just came back from a trip to the West coast) and put it into the locker room and was looking forward to showing me around. I was intrigued! Already, after only 5 minutes in a building I wanted to know more:

What is the (hi)story!?

After finishing my coffee and chatting away with the only customer but me, a family and military researcher, Thomas, who also reminded me of why I loved the Irish so much. Thomas was given a photograph of a British soldier which’s features could not have been closer to Thomas’. Since then, Thomas is doing major family research in genealogy to find out more about his family.

I was pleased to hear one family’s story before I headed into the history of the building which remained to be here. Fortunately, I must say. Because every building but three has been knocked down on the 17,000 acre field. So much history just went with that. But I suppose it was necessary.

 

Richmond Barracks
Approaching the barracks © Lucie Taeubler

The Richmond Barracks, now part of the Dublin City Council, are a former military base for the British Army stationed in Ireland from 1814. After the Easter Rising in 1916, and after the Free Irish State was founded the Irish Army used the buildings until 1922. The most interesting fact about the barracks is that more than 3,000 suspects of the so-called Easter Rising were behind bars there. Including every leader except James Connolly. It was mind-blowing to read and to hear all about it. Exceptional work has been done in the research concerning women in the revolutionary years.

77 women’s stories

In the recent exhibition called The Digital Quilt 77 women of the revolution are represented with their attributes on a three piece quilt. 77 contemporary female artists worked on the women’s stories and put it together to an extraordinary wall piece. The histories of the women all crossed the arches of Richmond Barracks since they were arrested and held at the barracks in 1916. I could not resist and bought the book about the 77 women to get to know history from another perspective. Or better: from more perspectives than just one.

Richmond Barracks

Richmond Barracks

Visit the graveyard next to the canal. Don’t hesitate to ask your guide for advice or more stories. Niall was very happy to tell me more about the barracks, the women’s stories and  the museum itself.

Richmond Barracks

Old Bulfin Road, Inchicore, Dublin

Monday-Friday, 10am – 4pm

Saturday only with pre-bookings

Sunday closed

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Lynn

You find yourself on roads which seem to lead nowhere. From Dublin it takes you approximately 1,5h. Going off the motorway, following the road which leads you to Killea, near Rosscrea. I am looking for Lynn Kirkham, artist and traveler, woman in her fifties who decided to move to a little barn, in Tipperary.

Sorry, do you know where Lynn lives, the basket-lady?

Looking at my friend’s description of how to get to Lynn’s studio in the middle of nowhere, I had to stop downtown Killea. Which consists of a primary school, a church, a pub and a cemetery. Fortunately, the pub owner was there to lead me the way – third left after the church, up the first hill, then left again after a mile and it is right there. I got lost, still. After backing out of a cattle farm, I instantly had to get out of the car to enjoy the view. It was raining, but clearing up after just two minutes. I inhaled fresh autumn air. When I found myself at Lynn’s place – called Greenmantle – I was fascinated how wisely she restored her little home: Seeds and dried flowers, a green house for fruit and vegetables on her patio. Bringing her horses to Greenmantle meant she needed land. Bringing her art meant she needed a studio.

 

Lynn is a tall, skinny but strong woman. I remember her wearing working clothes, wellies and a hoodie to cover from the cold. She has a friendly smile, always in thoughts and seemingly happy about what she has achieved already. Proud to be an artist, to know a lot of people around Ireland and the world, and most impressively: being a very generous and flexible host for foreigners (and family) in her house. Volunteers come and go, working at the house, making breakfast and sorting out little things for Lynn. Also, volunteers are working in her studio to help with commissioned public art.

Massive, but fine lined creatures are part of her work. Lynn uses steal constructions to build skeletons for her sculptures which usually depict animals. I have passed some of her work regularly, at the roundabout in Newbridge, Co. Kildare or the Irish National Stud in Kildare Town. Horses. We can only put together a few pieces at a time. We construct them onto their skeleton and take them off again to work on the wood Sabrina her current volunteer tells me with awe. Look, what she made! She is such a great support pointing at man sized woven sculpture, Lynn smiles at Sabrina and me. I can feel how grateful she is about her apprentice and the useful help. The type of wood Lynn uses has been found somewhere, at rivers, in the forests. It is of charming shapes, seems to be kind of magical, stored outside of the studio. People bring it, they call her and offer it, or she collects it from wherever it happens to be.

The very particular about meeting Lynn was to talk about her traveling and writing it down to publish a book next year. Taking her horses out into an Irish summer, barely raining, and traveling with them from East to South, up North. She met friends, made long lost contacts and stayed with herself, in a tent. I experienced Lynn to be a down-to-earth person. She helps and supports people and ecology.

My aim is to make accessible and meaningful artworks, especially site specific; public art and community projects with an emphasis on creative development and upholding traditional skills. I grow, harvest & process natural raw materials and often use reclaimed and recycled resources.

Sometimes you find yourself on the road to nowhere. But you are somewhere and you go there to experience the new.

How to find Lynn:

  • You have to go there by car but of course there is always the possibility to share a ride too.
  • Lynn Kirkham, Greenmantle Bohernarudda, Killea,
    Co. Tipperary, Ireland
  • Website | Facebook | Vimeo

Canada, where bears and blueberry muffins will find you

Or is it just a wonderful road trip I want to share with you? When I was abroad in the Eastern parts of Canada, I decided to take a car, instead of choosing car sharing or public transport, which is usually the case. I had two weeks only. Not really sustainable. But that is a working girl’s life: travel time reduction.

#VisitCanada Mont-Tremblant - 17

Five things which I really remember and look back to with amazement:

(1) First Thursdays at AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) in Toronto

Even though Canada was treating me well with warm-ish, almost summery days in early October, I dragged myself into AGO. No, seriously, I am an art lover, so I really wanted to hit Frank Gehry’s architectonical feature. The building is all about wood and glass, dominating its interieur. The gallery possesses a renowed collection and exhibits objects within thematical complexities, for example Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989, about Torontians and their Canadian heritage, First Nations and Indigenous art.

(2) Taking out the kayaks to explore Kawartha Lakes

Although I did not really take a picture of myself kayaking, because I was too scared to even hold a camera then: This is a picture of one of the beautiful lakes in and around Kawartha. I took the kayak with friends on Chemong Lake close to Ennismore. Couchsurfing at a family’s home gave me an intimate view to an extraordinary lifestyle in the country.

Just our silhouettes. Foto: Judith Mehofer
Just our silhouettes. Foto: Judith Mehofer

(3) Coffee break in Balzac’s in Kingston

Still celebrating the Blue Jay’s winning game, I went further South hitting Lake Ontario in Kingston. At Balzac’s Coffee House I ordered heavy peanut butter brownies and ginger lemonade with pumpkin spice. Enjoyed it.

Balzac is a franchise coffee house. Look up on their website where to hit their products.

This is not in Balzac's but at a wonderful breakfast-brunch place in Montreal. Photo: Judith Mehofer
This is not in Balzac’s but at a wonderful breakfast-brunch place in Montreal. Photo: Judith Mehofer

(4) Early bird hike to the peak of Mont Tremblant

I do not recommend to go to Mont Tremblant and its surrounding villages. But I still loved it there in the early mornings. Being a skiing destination for Canadians and skiing/hiking tourists, Mont Tremblant looks like a utopian ressort. Staying at Hi Hostel Mont Tremblant, which was by far the most expensive hostel in Canada, an early morning hike is really what you should aim for. Still dark, I sneaked off to the starting point of several routes, like the green and easy one or the Grand Brûlé. If you are at the peak early enough, you could meet up with the technicians to have some breakfast (blueberry muffin and hot, freshly brewed coffee).

I passed you with my truck when you hiked up. Good job! I have some coffee for you, and I am happy to share my breakfast with you.

After a selfie with my favourite technician, I indulged the views of colourful forrests. Oh, and although I was really scared about meeting up with a bear, I made it – try to be an early bird! 

Selfie with the generous coffee and blueberry muffin share. Foto: Judith Mehofer
Selfie with the generous coffee and blueberry muffin share. Foto: Judith Mehofer

(5) Picnic right next to Quebec City’s Farmer’s Market, Vieux Port

Arriving in Quebec feels like arriving at a European harbour town. It is small town life. Try to get everything you need for your breakfast at the local farmers market. In autumn they sell a broad variety of pumpkin, several different varieties of apples (I even tried a McIntosh) and of course other good products, produced locally. For Austrian goulash I bought hokkaido pumpkin and some Hungarian paprika, which is an essential. Couchsurfing was happening again, so I had the idea to cook something European, Austrian-Hungarian, which is some fancy goulash.

But, for the real deal-breakfast at the harbour, I bought some amazing goat’s cheese, cream cheese with freshly picked autumn strawberries and cranberries as well as some sour apples – still dreaming about this morning. Additionally, I got some poppy seeds baguette. Thank you, for this wonderful experience.

 

Transport between Toronto and Quebec City

If you want to take public transport or share a ride, it is easily possible!

  • From Montréal to Quebec I took KangaRide, a very reliable (and supervised) ridesharing and carpooling company.
  • Greyhound and several other bus companies are offering their service from one city to another.
  • Trains are really expensive but if you get the chance to take the pittoresque train, do it. But take your time!

 

 

Personally, my Irish soul

My second home is and always will be Ireland. The Emerald island. Sheep. Rain, always. People, which could not be more friendly. Music, all over the place. In Ireland, I went through moments in which background music was played, for real. Like in a film. A great one. I remind you of “Once” or the Klischee tragedy “P.S. I love you”.

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Home is where your heart is. Definitely, Ireland. 
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Cattle. Yes, it seems there are more cows around than sheep. 
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Father Ted is an institution in Ireland. I have never really understood the jokes, but I traveled to the place where it was shot. 
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Mid-Western parts of Ireland around The Burren.
Green grass, small houses and water. This is Ireland. Too.
Green grass, small houses and water. This is Ireland. Too.

Van Morrison has already sung about how music is healing your soul:

When you hear the music ringin’ in your soul, and you feel in your heart, it grows and grows. It came from the backstreet Rock and Roll And the healing has begun. That’s where it come from man.

_The Healing Has Begun, Van Morrison

The Irish lifestyle accompanied me in the last ten years. I am talking about the “Take it easy” and the mostly incorrectly but comfortable time adjustments like “I’ll be back in a minute” which made me very uncomfortable in the beginning. But I opened up after a while living in Ireland and I could sit back to forget about my own discipline.

Irish music has been part of my life since then. Caladh Nua, for example, is a young Irish band I have listened to in 2014 in Krems, where I used to live. I love diversity in its playfulness and the instruments about Irish music. I am fascinated about the passion to make music. Whenever you enter a pub in Ireland there is live music, maybe a guitar player who sings about life but also appears to be a philosopher talking melancholy. Tradition and habit are consistent in Ireland to live life as it should be: cozy, friendly and usually stressless. “It’s grand” often said when the Irish are happy and well.

I am, in a way, Irish. Maybe not genetically. Maybe not due to my heritage. But by heart.

x, Lucie