Monday, April 1, 2019
We left Galway by train at 7:30 in the morning to head back to Dublin. It was a little over two hours to get there. We couldn’t go to our Airbnb until the afternoon, so we had to carry our luggage with us.
Our first stop was Dublin Castle, but it’s not a castle in the way people typically think. The building there today is a wonderful example of Georgian architecture. We had a little bit of time before the tour started, so we walked through Dubh Linn Garden behind the castle. The guided tour is so worth the little bit of extra money. On the guided tour we go to see to more of the castle and enjoy hearing about the history. The first stop on the guided tour is the medieval foundations of one of the first castles built on the site. In the underground area there’s part of a medieval tower, wall and bridge over the now underground river Poddle, a tributary of the Liffy. Those portions date back to the 13th century. We then went over to see the castles chapel which had stunning woodworking and beautiful columns that looked like carved marble, but are actually wood covered in plaster and then painted to look like stone. The last part of the tour is the state apartments built in the 1700s. The drawing-room was just as wonderful as I remembered it being. It reminds me so much of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
After the tour we walked over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s less than a five-minute walk, and the sun was shining, so it was absolutely lovely. There’s a park right outside the cathedral that was full of people. Some enjoying the sunshine and all the flowers in bloom, and others being swarmed by pigeons. St. Patrick’s is a beautiful church, and with it being a sunny day the stained glass windows really came alive. The tile floors of the cathedral are nearly as vivid as all of the stunning stained glass. My favorite thing in the cathedral isn’t the stained glass, or the tile floors, or even the gorgeous stone carving; It a hand written copy of Messiah by George Fredric Handel that is open to the last movement of Part II, the “Hallelujah Chorus”. I didn’t take a photo of it this time, so if you’d like to see that read my post from the last time I visited.
Our next stop was Marsh’s Library, which I didn’t even know about the last time I was here and it’s right around the corner from St. Patrick’s. The library has been around and open since 1707 and was the first public library in Ireland. They currently have a small selection of books open on display that were checked out by Bram Stoker. Yes, the Bram Stoker, author of Dracula visited this library. It’s a fairly small and quiet library. Sure, it’s not as grand as the Trinity College Library, but as a book lover I very much enjoyed it.
We stopped back at Dublin Castle to get our bags, and walked the short distance to our AirBnB, checked in, and got a bite to eat at the cafe next door. Since it was still pretty early in the day we still had time for one more museum, so we headed to the north side of the Liffy to the GPO. The GPO,or general post office is still a functioning postoffice, but the basement is a wonderful, and fairly new museum about the 1916 Easter Rising. For those who haven’t heard of or haven’t heard much of the Easter Rising the GPO may seem like an odd place for the museum, but it makes perfect sence as it was the main headquarters of the rebels. For those of you who want to know more about The Rising this video is short and does a good job summing it up.
We did a bit of shopping and got some groceries for the week on our way back to our AirBnB. We didn’t feel like cooking, and wanted to hear some live music, so we walked over to the Temple Bar area of Dublin. We went to The Old Storehouse, which is a pub that I loved the last time I was in Dublin. We grabbed a couple of seats a the bar and had dinner and enjoyed the live music being played in the corner of the room. It felt really nice to be back in Dublin; I don’t think I realized how much I actually had missed it.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
After having breakfast at our Airbnb we headed out across the city to Trinity College. At Trinity College in the old library is the Book of Kells. Before getting to see the Book of Kells there’s an exhibit that covers everything you could ever want to know about how manuscripts like that we’re once made. Everything from how the vellum was prepared to the writing tools and pigments used.
At the far end of the exhibit is a very dimly lit room. In that room under glass with its own security guard is the Book of Kells. The illuminated manuscript has been rebound in four different volumes. One volume for each of the four gospels written in Latin by monks around the year 800AD. The room has a bit of a crowd, and people are surprisingly rude and pushy, which I don’t understand. We’re all there for the same reason, so maybe be polite and wait your turn to see it? Once we go our chance to see it I was pleasantly surprised by what fantastic condition it was in. I remember feeling a bit underwhelmed the last time I was there. The colors are a little muted, but the details in the artwork is stunning.
After viewing the Book of Kells we walk upstairs to the Long Room of the Old Library. It was built in the early 1700s and a barrel-vaulted ceiling was added in 1892. That part of e library holds 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. There are marble busts of philosophers and writers along both sides at the ends of book shelves. At one end is an Irish harp from the 15th century called the harp of Brian Baru. I could happily spend all day in the library, but there’s more to see in Dublin.
From Trinity College it’s a pretty short walk to the National Museum of Archeology. This is another museum I had already been to and would recommend to anyone visiting Dublin. The museum is huge so plan to spend a couple of hours exploring the galleries. I think it does a wonderful job walking through the history of Ireland from the neolithic era through the medieval period. Some of my favorite things are all of the gold from the bronze age, the Tara Brooch, and the bog bodies.
By the time we had finished with the museum it was a bit after noon, so we walked down to St. Stephen’s Green and found a bench to sit on while we ate our lunch. It was a sunny day, but it was still on the cold side and very windy. It made me very happy to see all the flowers in bloom and the number of people out enjoying a beautiful park like St. Stephen’s Green.
With it being colder and windy we decided that a cup of coffee sounded like a great idea, so we wandered over to Grafton Street where there’s a bunch of shops and cafes. On our way I wanted to stop into a jewelers because I had been on a hunt the whole trip for a new claddagh ring, as the one I had purchase three years ago in Galway had broken. I did finally find on that I loved and that was sturdier than the last one I had. We went to Butlers Chocolate Cafe and each got a coffee, and with the coffee you get a chocolate truffle. Why don’t we have these in the US? I have a feeling they would be very well received. While we were sitting and having our coffee, and deciding what we were going to do for the rest of the day it started to sleet, which changed to snow for a few minutes, and then back to sleet. I feel like even if i lived in Ireland I would always be baffled by the weather because by the time we had finished our coffee and were ready to go it was sunny again.
Taking our chances with the weather we started heading back in the direction of our AirBnB and stopped at one last museum for the afternoon, the Irish Whiskey Museum! Now, I like whiskey, however my friend I was traveling with doesn’t drink, but this is Ireland and making whiskey is one of the many things they are very good at and distilling has had a fairly large impact on the history of the country. They do have a lower priced ticket for those who don’t drink or just don’t feel like drinking. The tour is only about an hour and covers the hundreds of years of history of whiskey in the country very well. At the end of the tour there’s a whiskey tasting. Fun fact I learned on the tour: in the Irish language whiskey is called uisce beatha (pronounced ishkya beha), meaning “water of life” and that’s where we get our english word “whiskey” spelled with or without the “e” depending on where you’re from.
We went back to our AirBnB to rest for a bit and try to dry off since it had started to rain a bit as we were leaving the Irish Whiskey Museum. For dinner we went to a pub not far from where we were staying called The Brazen Head. It is Ireland’s oldest pub and dates back to 1198. I had visited for dinner a few years back and was impressed with the food and the atmosphere, so I really wanted to visit again. The food was great and the service was top-notch. There wasn’t any live music in the part of the pub we were sitting in and it had been a long day, so we decided to call it a night early. Plus, we had to be out the door a bit after 8 o’clock the next morning.
Until next time, safe travels everyone!