Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Auld Dublin Town
The next day we started early with a guided bus tour of Dublin. Our local guide was amazing, he was super knowledgeable about his city, and he constantly found ways to tie Dublin to America. This really helped the kids relate to what could have been a boring chronicle of a city's famous sites. I am sure the fact that they also learned some history was purely unintentional. The first stop on the tour was some of Dublin's famed Georgian houses, one of the largest concentrations of Georgian architecture left in the world.
We also got a guided tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and again the guide impressed me with his deep knowledge both about the Cathedral and about the nation's history. Interesting fact, the statue outside of St. Patrick's is NOT the patron saint himself, but rather a member of the Guinness family! It recognizes the effort and money that the Guinness's put into rebuilding the Cathedral after centuries of use and abuse (some at the hands of Oliver Cromwell, who stabled his horses there.) Of course, an argument could be made for Arthur Guinness being the patron saint of Ireland.
Our tour took us past the General Post Office (GPO) which was the headquarters of the Easter Rising in 1916. Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic on the steps of the GPO on the morning of April 24th. They lasted through six days of fighting and shelling, but Irish nationalism was no match for English artillery. The center of Dublin had been shattered, and the ringleaders were all shot, a move that actually cemented their place in Irish lore and set the country on the path towards self rule. On a side note, this photo was taken from the bus and the color was tinted by the bus window, though through the magic of Lightroom I managed to save it.
Our last stop was Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Few people on the tour had heard of the Book of Kells before we stopped there, but everybody was entranced by the delicate illumination. I was impressed, and I had seen the Book back in 2000! After that, we had the afternoon at liberty, so I decided to head out to the National Gallery for a spell, and the cross the Ha'penny bridge to seek out the Old Jameson Distillery. I really enjoyed the tour, and it gave me a deeper appreciation for what goes into crafting Jameson, and Whiskey in general. We did a taste test at the end, and Jameson came out ahead of Jack Daniels, though the Johnny Walker Black Label was a tie. I like the peaty flavor of Scotch.
Having some time to kill I swung back by the GPO so I could feel the bullet holes and see the history up close.
A quick stroll down the trendy shopping district of Grafton Street, and it was off to dinner. We had but one more night in Dublin, and it was back on the bus the next morning, bound for Kilarny in the south-west of Ireland.