Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dublin Town

We had thought we would do a weekend in Dublin but by the time August rolled around it was clear that our weekends were full of other priorities and chances were that we wouldn't make it there as a family.

Maybe that is why planning Dublin was so difficult for me.

We left it kinda late in our trip to plan this one. I still had a wee list on my phone of things that I had wanted to do way back in April when we thought we would be in Dublin for the summer. I looked into hotels without much luck and ended up booking a day fare by rail for the four of us.

When we arrived in Dublin we set out on foot to Trinity College to visit the Old Library. Another featured spot in our 500 Places book, we when to see the Book of Kells. The Exhibition was a beautifully laid out account of the history and craftsmanship of the 1000 year old book. No matter what your religious affiliations, you have to appreciate the amount of work and the dedication it took to not only write out the four gospels but also to decorate them as intricately as they are. There were three other manuscripts on display, also beautifully decorated. The idea that each stunningly colourful letter was unique to any other embellished letter in the entire book spoke of how creative and proud the monks were that worked so tirelessly on this collective work. Beyond that art, the craftsmanship involved in making the vellum from stretched calves skin and binding the pages together makes you look at the new fangled books we have just a little bit differently.

Upstairs from the exhibit was the old library. I think this was the highlight for all of us. We climbed up the stairs to 'that old book smell' and were in awe as we turned into the landing that led to the Long Room built in 1712. Pictures cannot be taken inside and you can only walk the centre aisle but the contents of the walls command their appreciation. Over 200000 of the Colleges oldest books filling shelves that stretch up through two stories. Each shelf end is accented with a marble bust like that of Dublin's own Jonathan Swift and ladders on rails are modestly tucked into each corner. It wouldn't be far off to say that you feel just a little smarter taking in the atmosphere, but a small part of me would love to climb that iron spiral staircase, thumb through the old pages and swing on a ladder like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Some other interesting pieces on display are the skeleton of a 7' tall man and the oldest harp to survive from Ireland.

From here, we got on a hop on hop off bus for a quick tour of the city. It was here that it sunk in just how much I really would have liked to have spent more time. I would have loved to have wandered around the Temple Bar, taken a closer look around the stunning Christ Church Cathedral and the Kilmainham Gaol (the largest unoccupied jail from the late 1700s), but we just did not have the time. We stopped at the Guinness Storehouse- no fun when you are single parenting for the day and would like to try your hand at the perfect pour and ended our tour at one of the National Museums where Kyra really enjoyed the collection of Irish silverware.

We returned to Hillsborough shortly after 9 p.m. tired and slightly disappointed that the taste we took of Dublin was little more than a tease for what the lively city has to offer.

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