|Our ride the last couple of days.|
You could easily come to Ireland and spend your entire visit here in Dublin, and still probably not see it all. From Phoenix Park in the northwest (you can fit two of New York's Central Parks into here) to the Guiness Storehouse (see below) to St. Stephen's Green in the southeast to the Kilmainham Gaol in the west, there is just so much to feast your eyes and ears upon, well, our two brief days cannot begin to do it justice.
|Couple o'cool cats on top of a double decker bus.|
But having been all around the tour bus perimeter of the city, we fixed our eyes upon three locations to visit today: The Book of Kells at Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse (can't go to Dublin without that on your itinerary) and the Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced Kill-main-em Jail), where we had read you can get a nice history of Dublin through the eyes of the people held prisoner there (many of them political arrests in the Irish fight for independence).
Three years ago Dad and I drove around Dublin. We drove through Dublin. We pulled our hair out and nearly threw out the GPS in Dublin ... but the only stop we managed to make was the Guinness Storehouse and then we didn't see much due to restricted wheelchair access at some points, and Dad's fatigue level. And we never spent the night here. So almost all of this was new to both Bonnie and myself and, in so many respects, absolutely delightful. More on that in a moment.
|"The Long Room" at Trinity College.|
When you first walk in, you are overwhelmed by the smell of old books. I loved it! There are also - lining both sides of the room - 38 plaster busts of teachers, philosophers, scientists, and local influential persons who have had some great impact upon education or Irish society. I suppose they serve as role models for the students. Trinity College - also called the University of Dublin - is still very much a working academic institution.
But the main event here is the Book of Kells. It is an illustrated manuscript, produced with colored ink on goatskin pages by Irish monks in the late 700s and early 800s. When Vikings began to conquer much of Ireland, the book was sent to a monastery in Dublin for safekeeping. It is an unrivaled exhibition of calligraphy and sacred drawings. In the early 1950s, the Library separated the four gospels into individual books, and two of them are always on display. We saw the books of John and Luke. They are kept in climate controlled displays and you can look, but never touch. A digital copy of the complete work of the Book of Kells - considered Ireland's most precious national treasure - can be found on the library's website here.
|Selfie's a little blurry, but we're happy.|
One mind-blowing fact: Guiness - for 300 pounds and 45 pounds annually (remember, this was before the euro) - leased 64 acres from the city of Dublin for ... are you sitting down? 9,000 years! The company built housing for its employees that had the city's first running water in the bathrooms, and also included healthcare and a creche (preschool and nursery) for the workers' children.
This storehouse was started in 1902, finished in 1904, and the first fermented stout was produced in 1906. Guinness quickly outgrew this place and it sat idle for many years before being turned into a tourist attraction. From here, they built Storehouse #2. They are now on Storehouse #4, with Guinness being sold in more than 150 countries.
|Woulda, shoulda, coulda.|
From there it was back on the bus and over to the Kilmainham Gaol. Only to discover that all the tours for the remainder of the day were sold out. Should have believed the comments on Trip Advisor, I guess. The photo to the right shows one of the last tour groups kicking off at the entrance to the Gaol (note the serpent logo above the door), and you'll also note that we are not in that group. It was a major bummer. But we toured the attached courthouse and the museum and you can see lots more photos of our day at my Facebook page. Look for the photo album "Ireland 2017."
|Note the windows get smaller as they go up.|
|This move ultimately backfired.|
Finally, as Americans visiting, my wife and I would like to officially thank whomever thought up this idea (see photo at right). It's a reminder at every intersection (the Irish call them junctions) that traffic moves differently here.
Mark's Musings is published on an occasional basis but that may change without notice. This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. And the road goes ever on.