There are three things you simply must do in Dublin our lovely Irish neighbour had told us: Go on the Guinness Storehouse experience, have a few drinks in a bar where they play traditional Irish music and view the book of Kells.
We did all three and much more during our week in Dublin.
Having just come from sensible, gracious and sedate Edinburgh we were somewhat overwhelmed by the party atmosphere in Dublin’s City Centre.
It was full of happily and somewhat inebriated tourists. The landlord of our apartment had told us to meet him in one of the pubs to collect the key. I wondered if we’d find him sober! But he was and we were soon settled into our gated inner city apartment which was remarkably peaceful.
Talking of alcohol when we were in Scotland we were taken by the number of pubs, but Ireland surpasses that. In Dublin there seemed to be a pub on every street corner as well as a few in between. John estimated that there were enough pubs in Dublin that if one had the stamina one could go to a new pub every night for 10 years without returning to any of them.
We ventured into a couple of pubs to get the old Celtic/Viking music stirring in our hearts and it was fun although John discovered that age had limited the amount of Guinness he could drink. He had a wee hangover the next morning.
One day we hired bikes and went for an easy three hour ride in Phoenix Park, the largest urban park in Europe, stopping off for a coffee along the way. We saw some of the 450 fallow deer that run wild in the park, a remnant from the 17th Century when they were a shooting sport for the gentry of the day.
Afterwards we walked to the Guinness Storehouse to join the crowds slowly winding their way up to the top floor. At each level there were huge interactive displays about how Guinness is made and marketed, a rather grandiose exercise in self- promotion by the Guinness brewing family we thought. Our entry ticket entitled us to a pint of Guinness in the top floor bar. Here there was standing room only but the 360 degree view of the city from there was astounding.
At Trinity College we viewed some pages from the exquisitely illustrated book of Kells, one of Ireland’s greatest treasures. It was created by Celtic monks over 1200 years ago and is still in perfect condition (amazing!) and their Long Room library an architectural beauty lined with more than 2 million books from floor to ceiling (even more amazing!) And yes a copy of Harry Potter was there, displayed in a glass case in the centre aisle.
At the Irish Museum of Archaeology we took a walk though Ireland’s history from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. We viewed ancient weapons and tools and the creepy preserved bodies of bog people who are thought to be those of tribal kings who had been ritually sacrificed.
One of the best times was catching up with an old friend, Sister Anna, a nun now in her late seventies, still working in Catholic education and going strong. She regularly attends Ireland/New Zealand Friendship Society functions and has met more All Blacks than we have We sat down together in the lounge of a city hotel and enjoyed a good gossip ( mainly about rugby!) over a cuppa with scones, jam and cream.
There was time for a day out of the city to explore further so we booked a bus tour. The first stop was in the old medieval town of Kilkenny (where we could have happily stayed for a couple of days as it is a beautiful town filled with old churches and houses). We travelled on from there to visit the ruins of a 6th Century monastic settlement and Tower established by the reclusive St Kevin. Then we did an hour’s walk to and from the Glendalough Lake. It was nice to get out into the country again and over all we were away from Dublin for about 10 hours.
Time passed all too quickly in Dublin’s fair city where the girls were indeed pretty and the lads were charming and there was never a boring moment. But by the end of the week we were ready to take our leave. We took a ferry across the Irish Sea and then went on by train to St Hugh’s College in Oxford.
By Lyn Potter. Read more here.