Limerick is a Drag (or A Walk in a Whole Different Park)
With no buses, planes or trains to catch this morning I take advantage of the time and sleep in. I sleep a little longer than planned (thank goodness for earplugs, a traveler’s friend) and forgo a leisurely breakfast in lieu of a visit to the Hunt Museum.
I pick up a coffee and panini (it’s become a staple of my Irish diet) and walk the ten-or-so blocks to the entrance of the museum. The Hunt Museum is small museum with 3 floors of artwork and antiquities. The gentleman in the gift shop is kind enough to point out the highlights and give me the best route to take.
“If you take the blue carpeted staircases up and the red carpeted staircases down, you’ll see the whole museum in under an hour,” he says. And he’s kind enough to mark on my map the locations of important works of art by Picasso and Monet. They keep these very valuable pieces, along with some others, in glass covered drawers that you pull out to view to keep them in an airtight and light-free location. I feel as if I’m looking through the drawers of lingerie at Victoria’s Secret and have come across a Picasso. While I appreciate the ingenuity in the preservation, I kind of feel that paintings were meant to be displayed vertically instead of like some nice, lacy bras. I view ancient jewelry, Bronze Age wine goblets and antique glassware. I find it amazing that these pieces have survived a thousand years yet I have to replace my iPad every two years.
Before you know it, I’ve taken the red staircase down to the basement which houses most of the religious artwork. I begin contemplating whether Mary would have changed her whole virginity story if she would have known how the tale would have snowballed.
After just about an hour, I head out for a quick cappuccino at an outdoor pub (I like that pubs are also coffee bars here) before walking over to People’s Park for my volunteer activity for this trip. While you voted to “drop me” in Phoenix Park, I haven’t yet made it to Dublin so I thought I’d add another park to the trip.
People’s Park is a beautiful green space in the city just near the bus/train station. Today I’m meeting Richard Lynch, founder and manager of ILoveLimerick.com. Rich is an actor and TV Presenter (a host in America) and started ILoveLimerick.com with the goal of educating, informing, training and facilitating the development of arts, enterprise and culture in Limerick city. Through ILoveLimerick.com Rich has been one of the leaders in developing the Limerick LGBT Pride Festival into a large, mainstream event.
Today, I’ll be part of Rich’s all volunteer crew filming a promotional video for Limerick Pride Week which takes place from August 24-31. With a crew of six, not including myself, Rich of the actors, we’ll be filming at different locations around the city. What are we filming? It’s a comedy sketch starring three well-known Limerick drag queens.
After meeting the Rich and the crew in the park we wait for the “ladies” to arrive. The first to appear is Celine. As we spot her from across the park I notice that her walk is amazing. This “girl” could walk the runway in New York with the best of them. And her shoes. . . they’re fabulous! About twenty-minutes later Madonna and Sheila arrive. Madonna is a big, buxom blonde with all the attitude (and a little more of the lipstick) than the singer. And Sheila’s all about the accessories as she’s dressed to the nines with her green and white Irish flag dress, earrings, bracelets, multiple rings and carrying a spare pair of shoes. Sheila is a traditional Irish dancer and will be doing some dancing in every scene in this video.
Rich introduces the ladies to everyone and we get down to business. The ladies rehearse while the cameraman sets up the shots. While the script is funny and the girls performance is quite camp, the funniest part is watching the various passers-by react to what they are seeing. Some people simply walk by with backward glances. Others whisper to each other, and still one man sits on a bench, eyes staring and mouth agape. The children are the most open.
“Hey, what’s going on?” they ask.
“We’re filming a promo video for I Love Limerick for Pride Week,” we answer.
“Can we be in it?”
“Aw, no, sorry. There’s a bunch of reasons you can’t and we’d need your parent’s permission.” They look bummed.
In between trying to (unsuccessfully) catch birds in a net, the kids continue to watch the filming with interest.
Before you know it, lines are said and Sheila, is doing an Irish jig down the sidewalk. Finished here, we pile into various cars and move on to our next location, a clothing alteration business who is sponsoring the video. There are five of us in the car I’m in representing five nationalities – there’s Orla from Ireland, her partner Dolf (the photographer) from The Netherlands, Hugo (Rich’s partner) from Latvia, Ethan (a local university student) from Germany and myself, the token American.
We stand outside the alterations store politely asking customers to wait just a few minutes while the video is being filmed. Soon enough the owners are outside with the “ladies” taking some promotional photos and we’re headed to the next location. Again, we draw a crowd.
We arrive at the Hunt Museum (twice in one day! I’m so very cultured). We film on the street outside, once again, stopping foot traffic (yes indeed, these ladies have faces that could stop traffic). Soon enough, Sheila has pranced down the street arms, dress and everything else waving and we’re moving on to our final location.
As we arrive at the Treaty Stone and park in the bus lane I have a strange sense of deja vu, only last time I was with my Irish dad and his daughter and son-in-law instead of three drag queens (but, you know, it’s really the same). After a little rehearsal (with bus drivers honking their approval), Madonna and Celine have performed their lines and Sheila is prancing down the street in all her glory. Orla has decided that three or more drag queens gathered together is called a cackle. With the cackle shoots over, we take photo’s with the whole group of performers and volunteers, shoot a video with all of us wishing everyone a “Happy Limerick Pride!” and, as they say in the business, it’s a wrap.
It’s 8:00 and Orla, Dolf and I have decided we’re hungry. Orla drives us to the an area known as Dooradoyle where this American has a lovely Chinese dinner in the suburbs of Limerick with her new Irish and Dutch friends. We talk politics, history and name origins and they kindly drive me back to my hotel. All in all a unique experience while visiting any country.
You can read about Limerick Pride and ILoveLimerick.com at https://rebelwithacausedotorg.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/celebrating-pride/
And remember to get your entries in for the Drop Me Anywhere Travel Limerick Contest by July 31!
Tomorrow – I’m off to Dublin!