For any visitor to Ireland, experiencing the pub culture is essential. You can’t, in good conscience, leave until your BGC (Blood Guinness Content) is at least 50%.
However, there’s a lot more to this lovely green country, so we did intersperse our pints with some generous helpings of history.
First up, we visited Trinity College. Fun fact: Trinity College was one of my top choices for studying abroad in college (it was actually above New Zealand!). Now I can’t imagine having gone anywhere but NZ and wouldn’t change that for anything, but I loved having the chance to visit Trinity and Dublin and imagine what could have been!
The library at Trinity College is the largest library in Ireland and houses both the Book of Kells and the Long Room. The Book of Kells is a 1200-year-old manuscript depicting the four Gospels in incredibly beautiful and intricate calligraphy. Unfortunately, the exhibit was crowded with rather rowdy teenage boys, so we didn’t waste any time making our way through, but we did get to read a lot about the history of the Book of Kells and see it up close. It’s extremely ornate and was amazing to see such detail on something so old. Also, I now want to take up ancient calligraphy and bookbinding and I have a lot of newfound knowledge about vellum (the calfskin “paper” the book is written on… they were really pushing the vellum info).
Our next stop was the breathtaking Long Room, and I mean “breathtaking” quite literally.
The Long Room was built during the early 1700s and holds roughly 200,000 of the oldest books and manuscripts in the Library.
For three pretty big book nerds like ourselves, it was dang near heaven.
It’s also lined with marble busts of great poets, philosophers, writers, and thinkers.
I will preface this next bit with two facts about my dad: he has already been a lot of cool places, and he is not very easily impressed (his reaction to Stonehenge was “eh”). However, he proclaimed The Long Room the coolest place he has ever been in his life, as well as “as close as any single room can get to perfection,” and one of “the most beautiful products of the engineering/creative human mind.” So he liked it a little bit.
^ I was pretty envious of that guy’s job. Where do I sign up?!
The banners were part of a temporary exhibition on the history of Brian Boru, Ireland’s most famous medieval warrior king.
Sorry. Just one more photo, I promise.
We reluctantly emerged from the Long Room to find that it was pouring outside. We also realized that all three of us had left our umbrellas safely tucked away in our hotel room (especially shameful for Amity & I as we were quite well practiced Londoners by then).
We huddled under a stone archway for a few minutes before realizing that the rain was here to stay, so we spent the afternoon running from café to pub to café.
The next day dawned with no sign of rain, so we took our time meandering through pretty St Stephen’s Green.
We wove in and out of the new side of Dublin (like Edinburgh’s new town, it’s not nearly as cool as the old part), and eventually ended up at Dublin Castle. I love that in Europe, you can pretty much guarantee that every old city will have a castle. I mean, anybody who’s anybody has their own castle, right?
The grounds are open and free to explore, so we wandered through the blooming gardens and even got to visit a special Chihuly glass exhibit.
The castle was the seat of British rule in Ireland until they were ousted in 1921 (sorry, guys, at least you’ve still got Scotland). Interestingly, it has a bit of a Rainbow Row thing going on on one side:
…but the other side looks as properly castle-ish as you would expect:
There wasn’t much we could go see inside as the castle is still used as an active government complex today, but it was a nice attraction to see while in Dublin.
We continued on to find our pub for the evening. Our last view of the city center was crossing the River Liffey as the setting sun was reflecting the dappled clouds on to the water below.
I’m sure we missed out on a lot of what this cool city has to offer, but we did pretty well in our limited time. The list is just longer for next time!
Goodbye, Dublin, you’re sure a beauty!