“…I live in Ireland every day in a drizzly dream of a Dublin walk…” -John Geddes, A Familiar Rain-
For our last day in Ireland, the plan was to walk through Dublin. Mike isn’t fond of big cities so I was going to try to make it as painless as possible. It’s a bit of the “Gift of the Magi” – I hold my enthusiasm back a bit so Mike isn’t terribly inconvenienced and he tries to be tolerant of my enthusiasm. As a result we often strongly resemble the scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation where the family gets to the Grand Canyon and looks at it for about 10 seconds and then goes…OK…let’s go! (Yes, we know we’re terrible tourists and often lack adequate curiosity when we go places.) For some reason, we both were just a bit “low energy” our last day and that didn’t help either.
The airport, which was less than a mile from our hotel, had a bus stop for a bus that would take us as far as Trinity College in Dublin. Perfect. We took the hotel shuttle to the airport and there was a bus sitting there when we found the stop -so we didn’t have to wait around at all. It took about 1/2 hour to get to Dublin and since we were dropped off at Trinity College -that is where we started our day.
Trinity College was founded by the charter of Queen Elizabeth in 1592.
The oldest surviving building on the campus is the Old Library, which was built between 1712 and 1732. One of the things I’ve heard of over the years and knew I’d want to see if I ever got the chance is the Book of Kells, (actually four volumes) which is now housed in the Old Library. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript from around the year 800. Illuminated manuscripts are elaborately decorated texts by artists and scribes. It was written and illustrated by monks. It consists mainly of the four gospels. It was sent to Dublin in 1653 for safety during the Cromwell years. In 1661, it was brought to Trinity College. We bought our tickets and walked through an informational display and then into a small room where we were able to see two of the volumes. They didn’t allow photos in that area, so I don’t have any. It was a bit of mixed reaction for me; on one hand I was awed to see something so old and on the other, I was thinking that’s it? Sort of like when Dorothy finally gets an audience with the Wizard of Oz and finds out he’s just a man behind the curtain! Don’t get me wrong – it was very cool to see, but I guess I’d expected a bit more…something… They say that every day the curators flip a page in the books on display.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells Wikipedia has some pictures from the book to give you an idea of the illustrations it has in it.
After that room, the exit signs led us to the Long Room, which is the main chamber of the Old Library. They allowed photos there -but no flash. I took many, many pictures in the dim lighting and only have one or two that even give the impression of how amazing it was to see in person. It is about 215 feet long and, according to the brochure, contains approximately 200,000 of the college’s oldest books. There were book shelves in nooks along both sides and stacked about 15 feet high. Each nook had a ladder to get up to the higher volumes. Then there was a whole second level much the same as the lower.
When the original shelves filled up by the 1850’s, the building was remodeled into what we saw that day. Between each nook they placed a marble bust of famous writers, philosophers, ancient greeks…etc. I was moved to take a picture of Sir Frances Bacon’s bust -for a couple of reasons! The collection of busts was started in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned from one sculptor. I’m not sure how many total there were -but it had to be 20+ and they weren’t all done by the same sculptor.
After soaking in the atmosphere of the Long Room, we had to pass through the gift shop on the way to the exit. I enjoy looking at souvenirs -but didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without.
I bought a guide book for Ireland before we left and in the Dublin section they specifically highlighted a “knobs & knockers” shop saying it was very interesting. I was very excited to try to find it because I’ve been playing with adding decorative knobs to my glass projects and thought I could find something very different and interesting there than I might find at home. We found the shop and I was really disappointed to see that it was a very traditional -Home Depot like- nuts and bolts type of shop for door knobs and cabinet knobs and hinges…plain old knobs and hinges. I had to ask Mike, “Who did they pay off to get into the guide book?”
We began to wander a bit after that, just looking. The Castle and St Patrick’s Cathedral were next on the list. As we wandered we came upon the statue of Molly Malone.
This is an example of a legend that grows from almost nothing into something. There is a song called Molly Malone which is about a woman fishmonger who sold her fish on the streets and died young. The song is quite popular and along the way became the unofficial anthem of Dublin. While there is no evidence that the song was about a real woman named Molly Malone -it would have been a common enough name in the area. However, in 1988 the Dublin Millennium Commission endorsed claims about a Mary Malone who died in June of 1699 as being the real Molly Malone and so a proclamation was made to have a Molly Malone Day on June 13. When we walked by the statue, I had no idea of the story -but I took a picture because …Hey! A statue!
I hadn’t seen any pictures of it in advance, so I was a bit surprised. I would dub it “FrankenCastle”. It has obviously been added to and added to and the complete effect is an accumulation of many styles of architecture. The original castle was founded in 1204 on the orders of King John of England. At that time it looked like a proper castle of its time. The only surviving section of the original castle is the Record Tower.
Attached to it is the Chapel Royal (to the left).
The Irish Crown Jewels were stolen from this building in 1907 and have never been recovered. We wandered on because we decided not to see if there was a tour.
Mike had been checking his weather app all week and it had been pretty close, so when it said it wasn’t supposed to rain we believed it and didn’t bring our rain jackets with us. After the week we’d had, we should have known better! As we left the restaurant it was looking increasingly like rain.
The Cathedral was founded as early as 1028 when the King of Dublin made a pilgrimage to Rome. It was originally a wood building. Its setting was in the heart of medieval Dublin, but modern times have changed the neighborhood a bit. In the 1180’s the Normans who had invaded Ireland 10 years before joined forces and rebuilt and enlarged the Cathedral in stone. Between then and modern times there have been numerous repairs, renovations and expansions undertaken to keep the Cathedral in good repair. Once again, we looked and kept going. Just near the Cathedral we saw the Viking tour for the second time – I was able to grab a photo. I thought it was funny that all the tourists were wearing viking helmets. The kids were absolutely digging it though! Mike declined my offer to go on a Viking tour with him.
By then we were near the Temple Bar area. Temple Bar is an area that is a mix of shops, galleries and bars. The word “bar” actually refers to the word that describes a walkway near the waterside. The river Liffey borders Temple Bar to the North. The Temple part of the name came from Sir William Temple who had been a Provost at Trinity College. At one time this area was slated to be demolished to make room for a bus terminal, but was saved when the artists and small businesses and bars moved in. It is a small area characterized by narrow, cobblestone streets. We went in several shops both touristy and artsy to snoop around.
We popped out of Temple Bar at the River Liffey and walked along it for a bit.
There was a bridge on my list of things to find called the Halfpenny Bridge. It was built in 1816 for pedestrians only and the fee to cross was a ha’penny.
Evidently before this bridge was built a man named William Walsh operated 7 ferry boats to cross people over the river. His boats were falling apart so the local authorities told him to either fix his boats or build a bridge. He built the bridge. The ha’penny toll was supposed to be collected for 100 years. When the 100 years was up, the toll was increased by a whole penny and collected until 1919, after which it became a free bridge. I thought it looked fairly modern for its age.
We decided we preferred to go back into Temple Bar as, having walked in a circle, we were nearing Trinity College and our bus stop. The only thing left to do on our list was possibly a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, which was several blocks beyond the cathedral that we’d left in our rear view mirror awhile back. At the point of deciding, it started to rain and the bus was conveniently picking up passengers -so we did the logical thing and got on the bus and headed back to the airport.
After we found the shuttle to the hotel and got back to our room, we rested a bit and then I got on line to see if there were any restaurants nearby that we could walk to. We’d eaten at the hotel the night before after Yvonne dropped us off -but it was easily the worst meal we’d had in Ireland and neither of us wanted to repeat the experience. Like any area near an airport we were in a somewhat half rural/half industrial sort of looking area and we hadn’t noticed any restaurants on our shuttle rides back and forth from the airport. Luckily, there was a nearby restaurant that had great reviews on Trip Advisor and was only about a mile away from our hotel – just past the entrance to the airport. We decided to give it a shot and hit the sidewalks. We were quite happy to see that there was a wide, well maintained sidewalk all the way along the street we walked. Even the airport was accessible by walking or biking, which I thought was unique. We had a nice dinner:
And then walked back to the hotel where we did our final packing and settled down early because tomorrow would be an early start.
So, our visit to Ireland was officially at an end. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Yvonne for all the time and energy she put into showing us her corner of the world. She was the perfect hostess and tour guide (although we joked with her that we were her “test clients” for her new career as a tour guide.) Ireland is really beautiful and charming. We enjoyed our time there very much.
It would be easier to get a picture of bigfoot than it is to get a picture of Yvonne, but when she dropped us off at the airport I persuaded her to let me snap a photo of her.
Ireland bid us farewell with the first sunset I’d seen all week!
So that’s it… The next da’venture is in the works!