On Wednesday of this week I had the pleasure of travelling to Dublin on business and I couldn't help but be impressed by the way visitors are made aware of the cultural and literary heritage of the city in such tasteful ways.
My first appointment was on Abbey Street which hardly needs publicising so famous is its theatre. I walked from there to O'Connell Street for lunch, seeing the statue of the great politician and speaker after whom this central space is named. A little further on, I spotted a statue of James Joyce of human scale, "standing" casually just down a side street. (See photograph on right. For copyright notice, see end of article.)
As I sat in the lounge of The Gresham Hotel, looking out on O'Connell Street, I was aware of a tremendous sense of history. I think that the proprietors appreciate that this is part of the experience of visiting their hotel as can be seen from the history page of their website. I believe that visitors to a re-opened Three Cups in Lyme Regis could also enjoy a sense of history by being in a place with so many links to national culture.
For me the sense of cultural heritage was increased by seeing the magnificent buildings of Trinity College Dublin so near the centre of the city. That is something which Lyme Regis does not possess on a similar scale but I always enjoy seeing the collection of buildings at the bottom of Church Street including the Guildhall and the Museum.
On this visit to Dublin, my business did not take me to the Temple Bar area or Grafton Street which are also noted for their cultural connections and occasional statuary. This rather begs the question as to whether Lyme Regis would benefit from some statues of the many famous figures from its cultural history. Of course, many of them including Tolkien, Chesterton and Austen would be linked to The Three Cups and perhaps Broad Street would get rather crowded. Alternatively, busts of these writers could be placed around the walls of a lounge in The Three Cups to entice visitors to enjoy the ambience and perhaps inspiration of being guests of the re-established hotel.
However, I thought that the most impressive public art in Dublin and which should be an inspiration for Lyme Regis was at the airport. Throughout the lounge area for arrivals and departures there are storey height ground glass screens separating the walkway from various cafes and bars. These are inscribed with the names, images and quoted words of famous Irish writers associated with Dublin such as Joyce, O'Casey and Synge. I was captivated by the screen nearest to my departure gate which depicted W.B. Yeats with lines from his poem "Sailing to Byzantium". There is something haunting about harbours and prospects of journeying across the sea which Lyme Regis has in abundance and which could attract travellers and tourists and hotel guests from around the world at many times of year.
Even in these days of controversial expense claims, I would suggest that it would be justifiable for decision makers involved in developing tourism in Lyme Regis to travel across the water to Dublin's fair city and see how things can be done so effectively and with great style.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE. Photograph from Wikipedia article on James Joyce: "James Joyce statue next to O'Connell street in Dublin". This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License. In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one. Official license.
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