Thursday, February 27, 2003 - Thanks to the purity of Guinness, all the pints of the previous night did not leave me with a hangover, so I was able to head out bright and early to check out Trinity College. The campus was quiet, so I toured the Old Library, home to the Book of Kells. This manuscript of the four gospels was hand-scribed and illustrated by monks in the the 9th century, famed for its masterful illuminations and its narrow escape from Viking raids over the years. The library's Long Room was an incredible sight, with over 200,000 books piled onto its shelves (and perhaps a model for Jedi Archives in Attack of Clones). From there, I visited the National Museum of Ireland, packed with ordinary and intricate objects from the Neolithic and Celtic cultures. Jeweled brooches, craved stones, leather shoes, heavy swords, even a bog mummy. I especially enjoyed an exhibit which detailed where how of the items were found - cut loose from a bog, hiding at the bottom of a in a sack of potatoes, sitting in the corner of a pub. I also popped into the nearby Natural History Museum to see the skeletons of the Giant red deer,

After a tasty pub lunch, I walked around St. Stephen's Green, a public park created by Arthur Guinness in the late 1880s. Plenty of Dubliners were out and about despite the misty weather. The rain in Dublin was so different from the sudden downpours I'm used to in Florida. The soft rain was barley visible, causing slight ripples on the pond at the park's center.

From there, I walked to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where Ireland's patron saint baptized his first converts in 5th century. The small park adjacent to the cathedral was beautiful, very well cared for. The building itself was impressive, and inside were treasures stashed in every corner: the Boyle Monument, the tomb of author Jonathan Swift, flags and banners honoring Irish veterans, an imposing altar, and even customized knee-rests hanging behind each seat. Outside, the small graveyard mixed centuries-old gravestones with recent burials. The surrounding neighborhood was formerly a slum, revitalized with handsome brick buildings by Arthur Guinness in the early 1900s.

With Guinness on the brain, I made my way to St. James Gate, home of the Guinness brewery. I worried it would be difficult to find, but all I had to do was watch for the young men in the regrettable plush hats. The tour was a little bit disco, with special lighting and dramatic displays extolling the virtues of the drink and its creator. I enjoyed the displays of the advertising through the years, and it was cool to walk inside the huge copper vats. But by far the best was the Gravity Bar, hovering above the roof of storehouse and offering a 360-degree view of Dublin. After a long day of walking throughout the city, it was nice to relax with a pint of the black gold and take in the view.

That evening I searched a few pubs in search of live music, but found most sessions ended by 8pm. I ended up back in the Temple Bar area, where I met a Trinity professor with a strong wit and a strong love for his homeland. A charming old gentleman, he was eager to discuss politics, religion, culture - not your typical bar conversation in America. He recommended I visit Kilmainham Gaol, the old town jail, to get a good overview of Ireland's political past. He read from a speech hanging on the wall where we sat, by the condemned Irish patriot Robert Emmett:

I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world--it is the charity of its silence! Let no man write my epitaph: for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them. Let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times, and other men, can do justice to my character; when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.

On the way back to the hotel, I passed the Ha'penny Bridge, a footbridge built over the Liffey River in 1816. It was nicknamed for the cost of the toll pedestrians once paid to cross. I'd have to cross it another day, for the hour was late and I had an early wake-up call for my tour the next morning. next>>




angela's home

Jump to: Day
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6/7 | Munich


setstats 1