We have just returned from a few days in Hollywood. I refer here to a village in County Wicklow, Ireland, rather than any other places with the same name. It has a sign similar to the famous one in California, all nine letters spelt out on a hill overlooking the village. It is easier to read than its traditional Irish name, Cillin Chaoimhin, or Killinkeyvin, which translates as Kevin’s Little Church. Saint Kevin founded the nearby monastery of Glendalough, a busy pilgrimage destination.
Our trip to Ireland was booked rather hastily, prompted by a pre-season football match: Arsenal v Chelsea at the Aviva Stadium last Wednesday. My wife and daughter, Arsenal fans both, attended the game, while my son and I hung out in Dublin with a cousin. The journey back to Hollywood took around an hour. I also made a trip to Dublin for a pre-season tournament exactly 20 years ago. Leeds United, the team that I follow, played Lazio on a Friday night. That game followed a similar pattern to last week’s Arsenal game: an early goal for the other team, followed by a very late equalizer and a win on penalties for the team that we were supporting.
Hollywood in Wicklow has been used as a location in a number of familiar movies, though (inevitably) nowhere near as many as its namesake in California. Neil Jordan’s “Michael Collins” (1996) and Pat O’Connor’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” (1998) were partly shot there. I have seen both, but not “King Arthur” (2004), starring Clive Owen, or John Boorman’s “The General” (1998), based on events at nearby Russborough House.
Our time in Ireland coincided with the Irish Women’s Team progressing to the final of the Hockey World Cup, which was taking place here in London. We saw the penalty shoot-out against India last Thursday, and the whole of Saturday’s semi-final against Spain, which also went to penalties. It’s the first time an Irish team, in any sport, has made it to a World Cup Final. We arrived in Rosslare in time to catch the start of the game in a pub before sailing home yesterday evening (Sunday). The other finalists, the Netherlands, had won the tournament seven times before and were clear favourites. We caught less than half of the game before making our way to the ferry terminal. Ireland were already 3-0 down and by the time we had checked in it was 6-0, the final score. The Netherlands had won their eighth title: no Hollywood ending there.