Ireland: Part 2

On our second day in Dublin, we were going to visit a plethora of museums. We accidentally overslept and missed breakfast at the hotel so we ended up at a tea shop called Queen of Tarts. We had delicious chocolate chip scones and breakfast tea, the best way to wake up in the morning.

Our first stop of the day was the National Leprechaun Museum. We couldn’t help ourselves. On our honeymoon, we ended up at the Loch Ness Center and Exhibition, which was delightful. So naturally, we had to go to this one. It’s less scientifically based than the former; it really was a museum about stories of leprechauns. But it’s delightfully silly at times. At one point, we had to walk through a tunnel that would shrink us to the size of a leprechaun. When we emerged from the tunnel, we found ourselves in a room with oversized chairs and tables. It was fun climbing up on the oversized furniture. Later, we even had a chance to try to steal some gold. Alas, we failed. Some of the stories we were told were really dark. Leprechauns are apparently cobblers who like to force fairies to dance to wear out their shoes. Sounds silly but those stories can be really something. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves. It wasn’t the most substantive museum but it was worth a visit.

Our next stop was the Dublin Writers Museum. It goes into a little detail about a lot of the Dublin based writers. I never knew that Playboy of the Western World had originally caused riots. What a world! You really get a sense of Dublin’s literary scene beyond James Joyce. It’s where I first learned of Brendan Behan who called himself “a drinker with a writing problem.”  It’s not the most state of the art museum but it definitely has some worthwhile things to see and learn.

The final museum of the day was the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. One of it’s most noted objects is the beautiful Tara brooch, a golden treasure. They had a lovely exhibit on the Battle of Clontarf, a battle between the Irish and Viking. It’s told as a tale of Ireland ridding itself of Viking rule but it’s waaaay more complicated than that. There were alliances between both sides that make it hard to divide it in such black and white terms. I didn’t know a great deal about the relationship between the Vikings and the Irish, aside from tales of monasteries being burned and looted by the Vikings. However, the museum did make the point that a lot of these monasteries were likely burned by the local Irish as much or even more than by roving invaders. Ah, who writes the history…

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Because the wicked never rest, we then did a Guinness tour. I’m not a Guinness fan at all but I was curious to see their headquarters. It’s really a giant building of steel and glass. They’ve shaped the interior of the building like the biggest Guinness glass in the world. You start from the bottom and learn about the ingredients of Guinness, through the science of making the beer, the tales of the barrel making, and even how to properly drink a Guinness. That part was one of the more Willy Wonka aspects of the factory. We were brought into a white room with four pedestals that had different smelling smoke emanating from each of them. Each represented the core components of a Guinness. We were given a tiny shot glass and asked to go into another room to discuss the proper tasting technique. Unfortunately, there was a stag party that wouldn’t leave and kept taking shots of Guinness. The woman behind the counter was trying to patiently but firmly move them along. At one point, my husband said to her, “So they’ll be the first to go into the river.” She smiled.

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The next room was a recreation of a 19th century parlor room with dark wall paper, elegant paintings and a chandelier. Again, there were pedestals where you could sit your glass. It was all a little surreal. My favorite part of the tour was the gallery of old Guinness Advertisements. I love the branding they’ve put together. The ostriches, the running man, etc. It’s rather delightful. We capped our visit with drinking a Guinness in their glass rotunda, the tallest point in Dublin. It made me realize how different Dublin was from London; I didn’t see skyscrapers!

We then hurried back to central Dublin for our Irish Writer’s Pub Crawl. I had done this when I was 19 with my parents. I loved it then and loved it now. We started in a pub near some key places in James Joyce’s Ulysses where our tour guides did a lovely scene from Waiting for Godot. We wandered from location to location where we heard incredible stories or small segments of amazing works of literature. Highly recommend it.

That’s all for now!

 

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