Phoenix Park Fail

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.

And then I went and had some lunch and went home.

So, no pictures, but at least some stories.

  1. Like, 2-3 miles. []
  2. Though it stops at the point where the GPO is abandoned – and pretty much destroyed – and so doesn’t tell some of the cool stuff that happened afterward. []
  3. I debated using a different term: a compound word that incorporates the word “cluster,” but I chose not to. []

Terrible Beauty

Today was a pretty unplanned day. The tour I had booked was canceled1, so I was on my own with nothing scheduled. I slept in a bit, had a nice breakfast at Kilronan House, and then walked down to the big tourist information office on Suffolk Street to see if there was an interesting walking tour I could take.

It was pretty grey when I left the B&B, but the sky was nice and blue by the time I made it down to Grafton Street. I got overly optimistic at that point, and decided it was going to be another beautiful day.
It was pretty grey when I left the B&B, but the sky was nice and blue by the time I made it down to Grafton Street. I got overly optimistic at that point, and decided it was going to be another beautiful day.

At the tourist office, I found a flyer for the 1916 Easter Uprising Walking Tour. That looked interesting, so I decided that would be my morning. The tour started at 11:30, so I had about an hour to kill, which I spent wandering the streets.

The tour guide turned out to be the same fellow who conducted the first guided tour I took in Ireland last trip. I told him that, and he said, “Yeah, I moved on from there. No promotion, and I was looking for something better. I was there five years; longer than some of the prisoners’ sentences.”

The original parliament house of Ireland. Voted itself out of existence in 1801 when it voted to become part of the United Kingdom. To remove it as a symbol for the Republicans, the British government sold it off to the Bank of Ireland, on the condition that the bank eliminate any trace of the building's former function. The bank defied that, preserving the House of Lords, and keeping it open for the public.
The original parliament house of Ireland. Voted itself out of existence in 1801 when it voted to become part of the United Kingdom. To remove it as a symbol for the Republicans, the British government sold it off to the Bank of Ireland, on the condition that the bank eliminate any trace of the building’s former function. The bank defied that, preserving the House of Lords, and keeping it open for the public.

1801 was the first time that Ireland was officially governed by England, and it spurred a lot of Republican sentiment. The trail leading up to the 1916 Easter Uprising was a tangled mess involving promises, scandal, lies, dirty tricks, compromise, conspiracy, and the co-opting of different groups and movements on both sides of the issue.

The actual uprising was poorly organized and rushed, with sixty men riding the tram in from Cork armed to the teeth, paying for their tickets as a matter of principle. Noon on the Easter Monday, they stormed the GPO and set up their command centre.

Trinity College was the staging ground for the British troops. The roof was set up with snipers from the ANZACs.
Trinity College was the staging ground for the British troops. The roof was set up with snipers from the ANZACs. One of the best was on the top of the tower you can see in the upper right corner.
The ANZAC sniper was engaged in a one-on-one battle with an Irish Volunteer sniper on the second green dome you see in the picture. They apparently ignored pretty much everything else and just worked on killing each other. They both survived, and the ANZAC brought the Volunteer sniper tea and biscuits "For auld lang syne." They had tea together, discussing technique and experiences in various engagements.
The ANZAC sniper was engaged in a one-on-one battle with an Irish Volunteer sniper on the second green dome you see in the picture. They apparently ignored pretty much everything else and just worked on killing each other. They both survived, and the ANZAC brought the Volunteer sniper tea and biscuits “For auld lang syne.” They had tea together, discussing technique and experiences in various engagements.
It was exam time at Trinity. The central lawn was filled with grazing horses and drilling soldiers, students had to show ID and submit to a search before being allowed to sit the exams. On the second day, they decided to suspend the exams indefinitely.
It was exam time at Trinity. The central lawn was filled with grazing horses and drilling soldiers, students had to show ID and submit to a search before being allowed to sit the exams. On the second day, they decided to suspend the exams indefinitely.
The statue of Daniel O'Connell took a fair number of bullets from the Lewis gun emplacements on the other side of the Liffey. The British had also set up a mortar beside Trinity College. They couldn't see the GPO, so they aimed "just to the left of Nelson's Column" which was where the spire stands now.
The statue of Daniel O’Connell took a fair number of bullets from the Lewis gun emplacements on the other side of the Liffey. The British had also set up a mortar beside Trinity College. They couldn’t see the GPO, so they aimed “just to the left of Nelson’s Column” which was where the spire stands now.
The GPO was the command centre. There's a statue of Cuchullain in the window that used to be the main door. The mortar was not a very accurate weapon, so most of the entire street was in ruins, especially when the Helga, a British warship, pulled into the harbour and started using it's heavy guns as artillery.
The GPO was the command centre. There’s a statue of Cuchullain in the window that used to be the main door. The mortar was not a very accurate weapon, so most of the entire street was in ruins, especially when the Helga, a British warship, pulled into the harbour and started using it’s heavy guns as artillery.
When things started falling apart and burning (not euphemisms), the surviving men tried to make a run out the side of the GPO onto Henry Street. There was a sniper in a tower down near the docks that had complete coverage of this street, so the survivors had to dash across to Moore Lane. The O'Rahilly, one of the leaders, took a small party onto Moore Street, but that street was covered by a Lewis gun at the end, and they were shredded and pinned down.
When things started falling apart and burning (not euphemisms), the surviving men tried to make a run out the side of the GPO onto Henry Street. There was a sniper in a tower down near the docks that had complete coverage of this street, so the survivors had to dash across to Moore Lane. The O’Rahilly, one of the leaders, took a small party onto Moore Street, but that street was covered by a Lewis gun at the end, and they were shredded and pinned down.
Moore Lane led from Henry Street in an L-shape and connected to Moore Street. The 350 survivors of the GPO, including Michael Collins, were trapped when they got up to Moore Street.
Moore Lane led from Henry Street in an L-shape and connected to Moore Street. The 350 survivors of the GPO, including Michael Collins, were trapped when they got up to Moore Street.
Unable to progress down Moore Street, the survivors started mouse tunnelling, blasting through the walls of these houses to move down towards the hospital at the top of Moore Street.
Unable to progress down Moore Street, the survivors started mouse tunnelling, blasting through the walls of these houses to move down towards the hospital at the top of Moore Street.
The sign is not from the period, but the Plunket sign marks Joseph Plunket's house, where the surviving leaders of the rebellion held their final war council and made their surrender.
The sign is not from the period, but the Plunket sign marks Joseph Plunket’s house, where the surviving leaders of the rebellion held their final war council and made their surrender.

The O’Rahilly, who led the advance party to try and clear Moore Street, was shot several times, and crawled into a pub’s doorway, where he slowly died over 19 hours. A local man tried to go to O’Rahilly’s aid, but the British commander ordered the Lewis gun to fire at his feet to chase him away. When some British troopers protested that they had to help O’Rahilly and not leave him to bleed to death painfully on the street, they were ordered to make sure no one did anything to help the man.

As he died, he wrote a letter to his wife, which was found by a sympathetic British trooper, and hand delivered to Nancy O'Rahilly after the uprising.
As he died, he wrote a letter to his wife, which was found by a sympathetic British trooper, and hand delivered to Nancy O’Rahilly after the uprising. It’s reproduced, including the handwriting, on a plaque near the place he died.
This made our guide a little grumpy. The plaques here show the seven signatories of the Easter Proclamation, the document that first declared the Irish Republic. They're attached to the gates of a car park with nothing to direct people there.
This made our guide a little grumpy. The plaques here show the seven signatories of the Easter Proclamation, the document that first declared the Irish Republic. They’re attached to the gates of a car park with nothing to direct people there.
Not far from where this happened, at the top of Parnell Street (which used to be Great Britain Street), there is the Garden of Remembrance. It's there as a memorial for all who died in defence of Ireland, in whatever conflict.
Not far from where this happened, at the top of Parnell Street (which used to be Great Britain Street), there is the Garden of Remembrance. It’s there as a memorial for all who died in defence of Ireland, in whatever conflict.
The reflecting pool is cross-shaped to honour Christianity. The mosaic in the pool honours the pre-Christian heritage of the island, showing Celtic weapons tossed down in honour of fallen warriors. There are numerous benches here, and it's a popular picnic spot.
The reflecting pool is cross-shaped to honour Christianity. The mosaic in the pool honours the pre-Christian heritage of the island, showing Celtic weapons tossed down in honour of fallen warriors. There are numerous benches here, and it’s a popular picnic spot.
The statue at the end of the garden is the Children of Lir. These are from a story of children turned into swans for 900 years, and finally returned to humanity. It's meant to represent the emergence of a peaceful nation from 900 years of conflict.
The statue at the end of the garden is the Children of Lir. These are from a story of children turned into swans for 900 years, and finally returned to humanity. It’s meant to represent the emergence of a peaceful nation from 900 years of conflict.

That’s where the tour ended. I wandered back down O’Connell Street, stopped for some lunch, and came out to find that it was raining. Across the street was a theatre, so I went in to watch¬†After Earth2. It was still raining when I came out, so I walked back to the B&B, stopping along the way to grab some sausage rolls and stuff for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning.

Yeah, tomorrow is my tour out to Blarney, Cork, and Cashel. It leaves at 6:50 from the tourist office on Suffolk Street, so I’ll have to leave the B&B by 6:15, well before breakfast is served. So, yeah, that means some picnic stuff.

Thanks to the rain, though, I was able to get a picture of the statue of Wolfe Tone at St. Stephen's Green without a whole bunch of people around it.
Thanks to the rain, though, I was able to get a picture of the statue of Wolfe Tone at St. Stephen’s Green without a whole bunch of people around it.

Bed time now.

  1. The let me know well in advance, so I appreciate that. []
  2. It’s got some good moments, but the movie is mainly full of dumb. []