Today’s rather brief adventure begins and ends in what is known as The Liberties Neighborhood.  The neighborhood is located just a short walk southwest of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  It is called The Liberties because at its founding it was outside the jurisdiction of the city of Dublin proper.  This area experienced economic hardships beginning in the 1700s and only recently began to rebuild and revive.

My adventure began as I wound through the narrow streets filled with one and two story homes.  I was not really looking for anything in particular.  I had spent the morning sitting on a bench at Saint Patrick’s Park and feeling a bit lethargic.  In an effort to snap out of it I decided to go somewhere out of the norm for a Dublin tourist.  That is when I ended up in the nearby residential area.  It was the first time I had been on a street in the city all by myself.  There were no signs of life anywhere.  The only evidence that these homes were occupied was that each one had their garbage out front, bagged and tagged.

As I entered the street known as The Coombe I saw a stone monument that did not seem to fit with the rest of this neighborhood.  It was an arch with a stairway on each side.  It looked like an entrance that should lead to the lobby of a government building of some kind but, instead, it led to nothing.  A steel gate blocked entrance to the stairs and encompassed the lonely structure.  On the front side, partially hidden by the gate I found a plaque that explained this out of place monument, which had once been the threshold of The Coombe Lying-In Hospital.

The story began in the harsh winter of 1825.  Two women who had just given birth were trying to make their way to the hospital in Dublin.  Unfortunately, neither the women nor their children ever made it to the hospital.  They died in the snows of The Liberties.  By the next year news of this tragedy had spread to some of Dublin’s affluent residents.  They responded by building a hospital for the area’s poor women at the site of this still-standing monument.  The hospital was devoted to those women who gave birth to future generations of Irish men and women.  When the hospital was eventually moved its entrance remained as an homage to the two women, and their children, who lost their lives in the snow and the caring men and women who built them a hospital to ensure that it never happened again.  I left the Coombe Lying-In Hospital Monument grateful that good people who have the means, at least sometimes, do good things for those who cannot do it for themselves.

As I walked further into the empty streets of the neighborhood I heard a strange sound.  “Dadump-dadump-dadump.”  Then I heard a voice. “Hya! Hya!”  Before I could put it together a young boy on a horse rounded the corner at full gallop. They zoomed past me and I stopped to try to make sense of what I had just seen (and to make sure that I had really seen it).  I saw it but after a few minutes I gave up on trying to make sense of it.  It was fun and I had a good laugh as I thought about it on my way home.

I left The Liberties but before I was out I saw one more thing that was worth a good laugh.  There was a store called Bohemian Vintage.  In the window was an old Ramones shirt and many neat-looking trinkets.  As I went to open the door I noticed that it was locked.  I looked for posted hours but there were none.  Then I saw a note that someone had posted on the door that said, “To Whom It May Concern- Is this place never open?”  The funny thing was that this note was not posted on the outside of the door.  It had been retrieved by the building’s proprietor and posted in the window from the inside.  I am not sure why someone would do that but once again I didn’t try to hard to figure it out.  I just laughed and enjoyed it.  Well, my spirit had been drawn from lethargy and I was just enjoying the day that I had in front of me.  Now, it’s time for me to continue enjoying it and I hope you do the same.

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