Having been to Dublin before, my memory of the experience was that you could get a good glimpse of Dublin in one day –so for this trip, I decided we could take the train there and back from Galway and hit the highlights all in one day. As an experiment –it was probably a bigger bite to chew than it should have been, but we did it. I pushed Laura to her limits and she was truly a trooper!
The train left at 7:30 AM –so we made the short walk over to the station around 7 AM. I was feeling a bit rushed about using the ticket machine (not wanting to miss the train) and so I tried to quickly move through the process. It was only as I pulled the purchased tickets out of the tray that I realized I’d only requested one way tickets instead of round-trip. Luckily there was an employee at the ticket desk and we asked if she could fix that for us and she did. To make it a round trip only added about 3 Euros each. If I hadn’t caught my mistake, it would have cost us each an extra 40 Euros for the ticket back to Galway!
Our train ride was pretty uneventful. It took about 2.5 hours to get to Dublin. When we stepped out of the train station there, I noticed a tram system out front and thought maybe instead of getting a cab like I’d planned, we could use that to get to Trinity College.
A bit of map studying, plus a bit of local info from a nice woman, we were soon stepping up to another ticket machine and giving it a whirl. I did get nervous that we were going in the wrong direction at one point and so we stepped off the tram to double-check our situation. A man heard us talking and stepped up and told us that we were on the right track and just needed to get back on the next tram that came along and go one more stop. It worked out great.
First stop was Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.
It was neat to be there today because there were graduates in their robes posing for pictures with family and friends on the grounds.
I enjoyed seeing the Book of Kells again. Laura has wanted to see it for a long time and was thrilled she was finally there.
The Book of Kells is an illustrated manuscript of the four Gospels written and drawn by monks in the early 800s. No one knows for sure the exact timing/history of the book or where it was actually created. It is called the Book of Kells because for several hundred years in the middle ages it was kept at the Kells Monastery. They think it arrived in Kells (either partially finished or finished) around the year 806 after the monks at a monastery on the island of Iona were practically wiped out by a Viking raid. The surviving monks moved to the monastery at Kells.
After the Rebellion in 1641 the Kells Monastery was left in ruins. A few years later the book was sent to Dublin for safekeeping. At some point not long after that it arrived at Trinity College. These days up to 500,000 people a year view the book. They don’t allow photos – but they do have a nice display where they’ve enlarged bits and pieces from the books to explain a bit about the process involved in making them before you enter the small room where the actual books are on display.
The entire Book of Kells is actually bound in 4 parts and there are usually 2 on display at a time –one opened to a page of script and the other opened to show a decorated page. I read somewhere that they turn one page a day.
A bonus, so to speak, for paying to see the Book of Kells is that they let you walk through the Long Room –which is an impressive library. The Long Room is the main chamber of the Old Library at Trinity College. It was built between 1712 and 1732 and is approximately 70 yards long. There are about 200,000 books in there.
There is a collection of busts lining both sides, which are famous philosophers, writers and a few men with connections to the College.
Another item on display there is one of three surviving Gaelic harps in Ireland and it was made in the 14th or 15th century. It was given to Trinity College in 1782. The harp, left facing is a national symbol of Ireland. The image of the harp, right facing, was trademarked by Guinness in 1876 (although they used it on their labels as early as 1862).
The first thing Laura said to me with a bit of a look was… “Can you smell that? OLD books!”
After our time at Trinity College, we started wandering toward and through the Temple Bar area nearby. There are so many old and interesting buildings back in there. Most of them are bars or restaurants.
The last time I was in Dublin, I had wanted to go into the Temple Bar, but Mike said no. Today Laura and Gail said …why not? We split a pizza.
Next on the list was the Ha’penny Bridge (officially named the Liffey Bridge). Back in the early 1800’s a man named William Walsh was operating seven ferries across the Liffey River. They were in such bad condition that the authorities told him he had to either fix the ferries or build a bridge. He built a bridge and was given the rights to charge a toll for the next 100 years. For most of those years the toll was a half-penny, which is why it got the nickname of Ha’penny Bridge.
After checking that out, we remembered that Laura and Gail wanted to stop by Hard Rock Café for some souvenir glasses and we ended up having to backtrack to find it – but we did. We were thinking about having some dessert while there, but we had pre-paid tickets to the Guiness Storehouse and were running out of time to get there.
Here’s a few more street pictures:
It was a bit of a hike (I’d researched it and it seemed like an OK distance –but it was a bit too far really). We finally arrived – just a few minutes before our scheduled time and began exploring.
Guinness does a nice job with their walk-through displays of the steps of brewing the beer and some of the history.
At the very end, they take a group of people at a time into a room where they hand out a miniature sample size of Guinness and give a short talk about things like the correct temperature to serve it, etc. Then they move the group into a second room and tell you how to drink Guinness. Then with a hearty Slainte’ everyone downs their sample and the tour is over. They send you off to the gift store or one of the several bars or restaurants they have in the building.
There’s an area with some old advertising displays:
We were running out of time, so Gail went up to the highest area and took some pictures of the city while Laura and I went to the gift shop to pick up some etched glassware they’d pre-ordered and for Laura to get her Guinness sweatshirt.
I don’t generally like dark beers and have previously only had maybe a sip of Guinness and didn’t find it to my liking. But today I followed the instructions about how to drink it and I have to say – I really enjoyed my sample.
We had just enough time to grab a taxi back to the train station and literally walk onto the train about 15 minutes before it left.
All of us were falling asleep on the ride back because it was a long and tiring day….but we enjoyed Dublin!