This was my last full day in Dublin. I was kind of lazy, and just spent the day wandering around Grafton Street and Temple Bar. Apparently, the bank holiday that I thought was last weekend is, in fact, this weekend, so my comments about how busy it was on Monday seem kind of quaint after going out today.
Nothing really special to report, except that I stopped in for some ice cream at Murphy’s Ice Cream. I’d been walking past their shops in each of the cities I’ve stayed in this trip, and finally broke down to give it a try. The young man offering samples convinced me to try Dingle Sea Salt ice cream and Caramelised Brown Bread ice cream, which were both pretty tasty, so I got a cup with a scoop of each, and I gotta tell ya, they were awesome together.
I also completed the last little bit of shopping I wanted to do, and came back to the flat by a roundabout route. This evening, I’m going to get most of my packing done, so I’m ready to head out the door moderately early tomorrow morning. I don’t want to have to rush at the airport.
Tomorrow’s going to be a long day, with a long1 layover in Toronto, and I’m not looking forward to that bit. I’m going to miss Ireland – I’ve had an awesome vacation here, again – but I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night.
Today was the last tour I have scheduled for this trip. When I woke up1, I was tired, and it was raining, and I thought long and hard about whether I actually wanted to go. In the end, I realized that I was all dressed and ready to leave, so I figured I might as well go.
There’s this area around Trinity College that is just a nightmare at rush hour. I’m not a nervous passenger, most of the time, but the cab driver I had was… let’s call him daring. Weaving around buses and trams, cars and cyclists, talking the entire time about how the Liffey was low today because of the tides, and how that made the smell terrible.
But I made it to the tour office on time, and made it on to the tour bus. It was a tour of Malahide Castle and the coastal area of Dublin, including the fishing village of Howth. Maybe it was the fact that it was an early-ish, half-day tour, or maybe it was the fact that it was raining, but there were only ten of us on the tour. I like the smaller group tours.
There was a bit of a mad rush from the bus to the Malahide Castle welcome centre, and again from the welcome centre to the castle itself, because of the pelting rain. Malahide is, according to our guide, from the Irish phrase Mullach Íde, which he said meant “By the Sea.”
There was a panel with a carving of the Virgin Mary over the fireplace that apparently disappeared for ten years when Oliver Cromwell seized the castle and gave it to one of his favourites, but it returned when the rightful owners2 reclaimed the castle. It was touted as a miracle, and apparently no one suggested that the Talbots might have taken the carving with them when they surrendered the castle and replaced it when they reclaimed their ancestral3 home.
There are, apparently, extensive and impressive gardens at Malahide Castle, but the rain convinced me to skip them.
The bus tour continued, and our next stop was the fishing village of Howth, on the peninsula sheltering Dublin Bay. The rain had stopped by the time we got there, and we had a little time to go for a walk on the pier.
And then it was back to Dublin, just in time for me to get rained on again, so I decided to go see a movie.
Tomorrow, it’s a free day, and my last day in Ireland. I’m going to spend some time looking around the neighbourhood, and maybe walking through the Temple Bar area.
Much earlier than I really wanted to, because I had to get down to O’Connell Street before 9:00. [↩]
My plan today was to head out to Phoenix Park, and visit the Dublin Zoo.
I failed in that attempt.
See, I caught the City Sightseeing bus on the route that would take me to Phoenix Park. And, when we got to Heuston Station, the driver said the bus wasn’t going to the park, but there was a shuttle bus just over a bridge by the station that would take us in to the Bloom festival that was going on right now, and was the reason the sightseeing bus wasn’t going in to the park.
The park was packed, and it became very obvious why the sightseeing bus wasn’t going in. But the site of the Bloom festival was quite some distance from the zoo1, and the shuttle bus didn’t stop at the zoo. I got off the bus at the Bloom festival, with some thought about walking to the zoo, but that would mean I’d also have to walk back to catch the shuttle bus. So, I thought I’d go take a look at the Bloom festival, seeing as I was here. Then I found out that tickets were over 20 euros, and I had no real interest in the festival, so I got on the next shuttle bus and rode it back to the sightseeing bus route.
I figure I’ve got a free day on Saturday, so I may take a cab out to the zoo that morning.
Anyway, I got off the bus on O’Connell Street, and went to check out the General Post Office. Since my last visit to Dublin in 2013, they’ve added a really impressive little museum, called GPO Witness History, that commemorates the 1916 Rising.
There are a lot of informational displays, including several interactive screens that take you day-by-day through the Rising. The coolest thing is a short movie that dramatizes the Rising. It tells the story well2 and does a great job of showing how the Rising was not a popular move amongst the population, how most of the damage was inflicted on civilians, and how both sides were rather ruthless and unrestrained.
Basically, it shows what a mess3 the whole thing was.
I also had promised a friend that I’d send her an actual postcard via the mail on this trip, so I bought a card in the gift shop at the GPO. The woman who sold it to me asked if I wanted a bag, and I said, “No, thanks. I’m going to mail it right away. I hear there’s a post office nearby.”
She looked at me strangely for a second, and said, “Yyyyyeeesss, just through the… Oh, thank god! You’re joking!” And I immediately felt guilty for trying to be funny to someone who has to field stupid questions all day.
It’s getting near the end of this trip, and you can tell. I’m starting to run out of steam, and I’m starting to miss my own bed.
Today, I thought I was being very slow to get moving. But I was out the door shortly after 10:00, and walked down to St. Stephen’s Green to catch the City Sightseeing bus. I had a ticket for Glasnevin Cemetery tour, so that was my big plan.
The bus timing worked out perfectly. By the time I got to the bus stop, the right bus was just leaving, and it was a nice trip round through the city and all the way out to Glasnevin. And the weather was bright and sunny, again, but it was a little cooler today, and nice and breezy on the top of the bus.
Timing was not perfect at the cemetery – I got there just after one tour started, but had two and a half hours to wait for the next one. It was sub-optimal, but I didn’t have any real plans, and it was a nice sunny day, and an interesting place to wander around, so I decided to wait.
I’m really glad I did. The tour was fantastic.
It started with a re-enactment of Patrick Pearse delivering the eulogy for Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, which was very well done. This was one of the sparks that roused people for the 1916 Rising a year later.
Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, by the way, was a big name in the Fenian movement. He started the Phoenix National and Literary Society, which had more to do with dynamite than books.
This was pretty much the way things went on the tour: we walked to various graves and got good stories.
There was a lot of discussion about last wishes for burial. My favourite is when the guide told a story about the chapel in the cemetery2 – it was very expensive to build. The archbishop who oversaw the construction wanted to be buried in an unmarked grave in the poorest part of the cemetery, with no record of where his body was put to rest.
He had chosen as the architect to design the chapel a man with a rather bitter rival, who stewed over the perceived sleight for six years, until the archbishop died. Then he convinced the Glasnevin council to allow him to build the (second) biggest, most impressive tomb in the cemetery. And to put it right in front of the chapel, so that it blocks the view of the chapel from the street.
Daniel O’Connell’s final wishes were, “My body to Ireland, my soul to heaven, my heart to Rome.” His friends, being ever the literalists, brought his body back to Dublin for burial; trusted that his soul would find it’s way to heaven; and cut his heart out, put it in a silver box, and shipped it to Rome, where it was promptly stolen and never seen again.
Glasnevin Cemetery was Daniel O’Connell’s doing. After he managed to get the Penal Laws repealed, granting Catholics legal status and the right to practice their religion, he established Glasnevin Cemetery, because there hadn’t been any (legal) Catholic cemeteries in Ireland for years. But O’Connell set down the rules for Glasnevin that said anyone in Ireland could be buried there, regardless of religion, or lack thereof.
One last little story I got as I was leaving the cemetery: There is a pub called John Kavanagh that’s up against the cemetery wall. The wall was important, because of the prevalence the Sack-’em-up Men, which is what they called the local body snatchers. So, big walls, seven watch towers, all to prevent the corpses being stolen and sold for medical research.
Anyway, Kavanagh’s got to be called the Gravedigger’s Pub, and there was a hatch cut in the wall so that the gravediggers could buy beer while working. But Kavanagh’s cut off the practice, because the gravediggers weren’t very good about returning the glasses. So the gravediggers started bringing their own jars to be filled. And thus the Irish slang of referring to drinks as jars.
My timing for the bus worked out perfectly, again. I was able to walk from the end of the tour pretty much right on to the tour bus again, and it took me right back to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is right across the street from where I’m staying.
Tomorrow is another City Sightseeing day. My objective is to see the Dublin Zoo at Phoenix Park. Now that I’ve activated my 72-hour ticket, I can just catch the bus back at St. Patrick’s, so that makes everything easy.
Come let us hear you tell how you slandered great Parnell, when you taught him well and truly persecuted. [↩]
This morning I was up early and down at the Molly Malone statue before 8:00 for my tour of Newgrange, Monasterboice, the Hill of Tara, and the Hill of Slane. On my first trip to Ireland, I took a tour of Newgrange and the Hill of Tara that you can read about here, but this tour offered a few more stops, and the weather was much nicer this time.
There were so many companies picking up tours at the statue that I thought for a while that I had missed mine, but our guide showed up right on time. Apparently, he had planned for earlier, but there was a real traffic tangle because of an accident on one of the Dublin ring roads.
I am glad I hadn’t missed the tour. On my last trip to Ireland, I used the same company to take a tour to Trim Castle and Glendalough, and it was one of the best tours I’ve been on, thanks to the very excellent guide. I had booked this exact tour last trip, but it got canceled because of not enough people signing up for it.
Anyway, off we went to Newgrange.
From Newgrange, we went to Monasterboice. I had heard about this place – a monastery that had faded when the Cistercian Order came to Ireland, and didn’t leave much in the way of records. Left a lot of high crosses in the graveyard, though.
From Monasterboice, we went to the Hill of Slane.
Apparently, each Easter, the church re-enacts this, lighting a small fire on the Hill of Slane. I asked about whether or not they have someone watching for the fire over at the Hill of Tara, where the High King had seen Patrick’s fire, and was told that the fire is now to small.
But, my guide said, several years ago, RTE1 conducted the experiment: they lit a large fire on the Hill of Slane, and apparently it could be seen very clearly from the Hill of Tara, 15km away.
And the Hill of Tara was our next stop.
And then it was back to Dublin, back to the flat, and catching up on the blog. Tomorrow, I get on the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. One of the things I’m planning on seeing is Glasnevin Cemetery, which I haven’t visited before.
This post is a day late. By the time I got back to the flat last night, I was tired and went to bed almost immediately, because I had to get up early today for a tour.
Yesterday, I was kind of lazy in the morning, doing some laundry1, and generally taking it easy. I left around 11:00, and went for a walk.
After that, it was a short walk over to Grafton Street, grabbed some food, and headed down to St. Stephen’s Green.
After lunch, I headed over to Dublin Castle. I’ve been there before, but what with one thing and another, I never got a chance to take the tour. This time, I changed that.
Because it was such a beautiful bank holiday Monday, this place was also packed, and I had an hour’s wait before I could get in on a guided tour.
We went across to the Chapel Royal, as well. I’ve got some pictures of that over here, but I learned something kind of interesting.
From the Chapel Royal, we went over to the rooms of state at the castle. Again, very busy, very crowded. I managed to get only one picture that didn’t have a bunch of other tourists in it.
After the tour, I walked back to the flat, and had to leave again in about 45 minutes to get to the Irish House Party. This was a really nice2 evening that involved a good dinner and an evening of traditional Irish music and dance. I met a very nice family from Missouri, got a copy of the band’s CD, and made it home around 11:00, where I posted my excuse for no post, and went to bed.
I love having a washing machine in this AirBnB flat. And that’s a pretty good clue that I am old and boring. [↩]
Not much to report today. Got up, packed, cleaned up the flat, dropped the keys off, and schlepped my backpack down to the train station. The train from Galway to Dublin was very full, and many of the passengers showed evidence of having had a rather festive Saturday night before getting on the train and heading home.
I killed a little time at Heuston Station in Dublin, because it was raining and I was about an hour and a half too early to go meet my AirBnB host. I took a cab down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and found my way the block or so to the flat, and got the keys, and settled in.
I’ve been pretty lucky with both my AirBnB stays on this trip. This place even has a washing machine, and one of the first things I did when I arrived was put a load of clothes on.
I also walked down to a grocery store and stocked up on some drinks and some food for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow.
Tomorrow is pretty much a free day, and I’m probably going to spend most of the day wandering the neighbourhood. I’ve spent more time in Dublin than any other place in Ireland, and I want to try and get my familiarity back. Tomorrow evening, I go to the Irish House Party, which should be fun. I just hope the weather gets back to the glorious sunshine I’ve been getting most of the time on this trip.
Not much of a post today, as I spent the bulk of the day either waiting for or riding on a train. This means that not much interesting happened.
One thing I noticed was that I was dreading putting on my full backpack to haul around all day. It made me start rethinking my luggage choices – or my travel style. I didn’t weigh my fully packed luggage before I left, and maybe I should have, because I spent most of my first day wondering exactly how heavy it was.
It felt very heavy. But I think a lot of that is the fact that I was pretty tired after the overnight flight, and also I had walked a long, long way carrying it through three airports and far more of Dublin than I needed to.
Today, when I put it on, and fastened the belly band, it didn’t feel that bad. The walk from the hotel to the train station was still pretty taxing, but it didn’t wipe me out as badly as I had feared. So, maybe I’m getting used to all the walking.
The whole day wasn’t nearly as much of a strain as I had built it up in my mind. There was a lot of waiting on metal benches at train stations, where I didn’t have to carry the pack. And train station sandwiches over here are so much better than the kind of sandwich you’d get in a similar place back in Canada. I got a lot of reading done and, when I arrived in Killarney, I was especially pleased that I was able to find my way from the train station to Larkinley Lodge without any problem.
And now I’m settled in for the evening, and actually looking forward to getting to bed before midnight.
Yeah. I am old and pathetic. Even on holiday, I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow, I’m off to see Ross Castle, Innisfillen Island, and a few other sites around town. I’ll have more pictures for you tomorrow, I expect.
Over the last week, I got all my errands run and all my packing done. My luggage choice this trip is the Hero’s Journey from Tom Bihn. It’s a backpack with a detachable shoulder bag – the main backpack is about the size of my beloved Aeronaut, but is designed kind of from the other direction, as a backpack that can be converted to a shoulder bag or duffel, rather than a duffel that can be used as a backpack. The backpack is about the maximum size allowed by most airlines for carry-on, and the detached shoulder bag is about the perfect size for your personal item. Once off the plane, I was able to zip the two together, and wear it as a large backpack.
So, I managed to get everything for three weeks packed, and still was able to lift it. And wear it that way for an extended time1.
And then, yesterday morning, I got into the taxi to the airport, and the adventure began!
Of course, the flight to Toronto was delayed, but only by about 20 minutes. Headwinds, apparently. I believe that, because even though we left 20 minutes late, we were only 4 minutes late getting into Toronto.
And that’s when I realized how spoiled I’ve become with online check-in for flights. Instead of just heading right for security, I got to try and find the Aer Lingus counter, and then wait for two hours before the counter opened. And there were maybe five whole chairs in the entire check-in area. The hate for the backpack weight started then.
But, I made it through that, made it through security, and made it to the lounge, where I planned to wait for the flight to Dublin.
Unfortunately, there were several people in the lounge who seemed to be competing in the Loud Important Business Person of the Year Award, in about three different, braggadocio-laden conversations. After about an hour and a half, I decided to go down to the gate to get away from it, and found that the flight had been delayed by an hour.
Sitting down there, surrounded by other loud people, including what seemed to be a class tour of very excited teenagers. And I still preferred the noise they made.
But we got on the plane at last, and off we went. And I had a nice dinner, and got about three hours of sleep2. For those of you trying to do the math at home, we landed at what for me was around 1:30 am.
And then we sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes, because we were late leaving Toronto. I didn’t mind it all that much, but I had a comfy business-class seat and no connecting flight to catch. Other passengers3 were not as sanguine about it all.
Of course, we made it in to the airport, and I took advantage of the Revival Lounge to have a shower and some orange juice.
Then I caught the Airlink bus into central Dublin. I wanted to get some stuff at the Lush store there, and get a local sim card for my phone. The helpful fellow who sold me my ticket told me that the bus would drop me off on College Green, just around the corner from Grafton Street, where Lush and the phone shop I wanted were.
He was right, but my memory of Dublin is not what I thought it was. While Grafton Street was literally right around the corner, I turned the wrong corner getting off the bus. And spent over an hour wandering around, failing to find any of the landmarks I remembered. When I found that I had inadvertently circled right back to where I started, I realized that I needed help, so I went in to the tourist office there and asked for directions.
And they told me that Grafton Street was literally right around the corner. The moral of this story is that I shouldn’t trust my brain.
So, I got the stuff I wanted, and took a cab to Heuston Station to catch the train to Kilkenny. By the time I got on the train, I was starting to fade. I spent the train ride nodding off, trying not to sleep through my stop.
Being so sleepy, when I say we were going through Athy, I got the song Lanigan’s Ball stuck in my head. Right up until we went through Carlow, and I got Follow Me Up To Carlow stuck in my head. But all I could think about when we got to Kilkenny was the Cats of Kilkenny rhyme.
I planned to take a cab to the hotel, but there wasn’t a cab at the train station, so I walked. Every step of the way, I kept telling myself that this was how I got lost in Dublin. And I told myself that right up to the moment I got to the hotel
The moral of this story is that I should trust my brain.
Checked in, and got to my room, and there was no electricity. Tried all the outlets and all the switches, then went down to the desk to tell them. And learned about this:
And now I’ve done up this little blog post, and haven’t fallen asleep, so I win. I don’t want to go to sleep too early, because I need to get on the local schedule, so I’m going out to a pub tonight for some dinner and music. Matt the Millers is nearby, and apparently has live traditional music starting in about half an hour.
I made it to Ireland!
Though, even with the planning and testing, I knew that I’d be hating the weight of the thing by the end of the first day. Spoiler: I was right! [↩]
Flight was about six and a half hours, and take-off and dinner service took about two hours, then they woke us up about an hour before landing for breakfast. [↩]
And, indeed, the flight crew, who were understandably ready for their day to be over. [↩]
I had planned to write this yesterday, but circumstances conspired to prevent that. So, that’s the first thing to get done this morning1.
On my last day in Dublin, I was dragging my feet a little in the morning, and didn’t make it down to breakfast before 9:30, when they stopped serving. I’ve only had breakfast at Kilronan House twice in my week’s stay here, and once was very rushed so I just had cereal. The day I took my time, it was very nice, but the scheduling has just not worked out very well.
But I headed down to St. Stephen’s Green, planning to start the day with a ride on the Hop On Hop Off bus, seeing as my ticket from the day before was still good. I stopped at the Marks & Spencer’s on Grafton street to have a bacon roll and some juice, and then went and rode the bus tour right around the circuit.
Again, Dublin Castle had no tours running, due to the official suites being occupied. I could have gone on to the grounds, but I had done that last trip, and it was the interior I really wanted to see. So I waited until Christchurch Cathedral before getting off.
So, for an extra four euros, in addition to admission to Christchurch, you could get a tour of the bell tower and a chance to ring the bells. It meant more stairs2, but I really couldn’t pass up the chance. The stairs were narrow, low, irregular spirals, as usual.
Now, a little more than a year ago, the heart of the patron saint of Dublin, St. Laurence O’Toole, was stolen from the cathedral. I wanted to find out what had happened with that, so I asked at the information desk. The heart has not been recovered at this time, and the police haven’t made any progress on locating the thieves. Very unfortunate.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is just a few blocks down the hill from Christchurch, so I walked down there next.
I don’t have a good picture of the whole interior; the place was just too full of people for that.
After St. Patrick’s, I walked back up to Christchurch, took a left, and came to St. Audoen’s in a couple of blocks. I’d seen St. Audoen’s before, at night, on the Ghost Bus tour last trip. It’s the oldest continuously operating parish church in Dublin.
It was getting late in the afternoon by that point, so I made my way along the Liffey to the Brazen Head, where I was going to be attending a dinner with some storytelling and music. I got there early, so I had a drink in the oldest part of the oldest tavern in Dublin, drinking where Vikings drank in the 12th century. And, of course, my picture of that part didn’t turn out at all.
And then it was ten o’clock, and I made my way back to the B&B. Next morning, I wanted to get to the airport in good time, and spend an hour or so in the Aer Lingus business class lounge, doing up this post.
Well, it didn’t work out. After security, which was very busy and rather slow, I had to go through US Customs preclearance, which was even slower and busier. I made it through that, eventually, and then had to go through a second security screening – again, very busy and slow. At that point, I was nowhere near the business lounge, and there was only about forty minutes before my plane; this out of the three hours I had budgeted.
On the flight back, I sat beside a lovely woman named Joanne, who just happened to have written a paper on an important 16th century play back in 1975 or so. It was being staged for the first time in 450 years, and she had been invited by the university to attend, as her paper has for years been the definitive work on the subject. We had a great conversation covering history and politics and the women’s movement in the 60s and 70s and lots of other things. It was absolutely delightful.
And then I was in Chicago, and got sent to the wrong gate, and almost missed my plane back to Winnipeg. I was tired and frustrated and grumpy, having been up for about 22 hours straight, and I was very glad to make it home.
And that’s it for this trip. I’m already starting to think about the next one.
It’s not really first. I’ve already put laundry on, dealt with some e-mail, and gone out to busy some bread. But still. [↩]
86, they told me this time. I really don’t know what this obsession is with counting them. It only makes things worse. [↩]