For the next few weeks, I’ll talk about our week long driving tour of Ireland. It was a week of art, hiking, and lots of Irish music. Everything a girl could want.
Our trip started with a few days in Dublin. We arrived early on Saturday and took the bus into the city. It dropped us off about a block and half away from our hotel. We were staying off Dame Street, a main thoroughfare that felt like a combination of tourist and student central. We threw our bags down, as is our custom, and ran off to explore the city.
First, we needed to get lunch. We wandered a little bit, passing a little farmer’s market with a display of cheeses that I would regret not tasting for the rest of the trip. We went to a little cafe that had a glorious display of different hot chocolates. I was disappointed that their orange and cinnamon chocolate was not available; i had a caramel chocolate, which was okay.
Next, we headed off to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. I had been in Dublin once in 2005 but we had missed seeing the Book of Kells because it was Christmas season and it was closed. As a lover of illuminated manuscripts, I was very keen on seeing it. There was a bit of a line but it went quickly. There is a room filled with explanations of everything from the ink, the binding, to the illuminated alphabet. I was thrilled that you can actually get up close to the Book of Kells. It’s crowded but you can make your way in and get really close. There is such an incredible amount of detail that no photo can do it justice. Several folks said it wasn’t the bees knees but they were wrong. It was well worth the wait.
After the Book of Kells, there is the delightful Long Room, a two story library with so many leather bound books. There’s even the harp that inspired the one Euro coin. When I asked one of the guards how one gets to the second story, he said, “Walk.” While it may sounds snotty, it was delightful and dry; I was reminded that Ireland is know for the gift of the gab. We chatted with him for awhile before making our way to St. Stephen’s Green.
What a wonderful park! Talk about the greenery of Ireland. Ponds, playgrounds, and picnics. Everything a proper park needs. Apparently, during the Easter Rising, the Irish Citizen Army took over St. Stephen’s Green, a key strategic point. However, each day during the fighting, there would be a ceasefire to allow James Kearney, the park’s gamekeeper, to feed the ducks.
I wandered around a little bit afterwards and found what I think is a Luigi themed Stag party. This made me immensely happy.
Plus many pub signs had extremely clever booze related messages. A sampling:
That evening, we were going to fight against jet lag by going on a ghost walk. As regular readers of this blog know, this is standard fare for trips with my husband. Ghost walks are a fun way to get to know a city and hear some great stories. This walking tour did not disappoint. The best story was about the ghost of Jonathan Swift. He was the Deacon of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and would regularly walk between the two cathedrals up a flight of stairs where beggars and prostitutes were known to ply their trade. He had pockets full of coins that he would give to people as he strode the stairs. After his death, beggars would find their cups with coins on them when no one came by. Those coins are attributed to Swift, making him the first philanthropic ghost I’ve heard of. (Well, a philanthropic ghost giving people things they want).
We ended the night with an attempt at some Irish music near our hotel. It was astonishing to see how many pubs and restaurants advertised Irish music. We walked in to some lovely fiddling tunes but as soon as we ordered a pint of cider, the music turned into US country music. Or covers of country songs. While I actually had a fondness for country, this was not quite what I was hoping for!
That’s all for now!