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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Bed time now.
The let me know well in advance, so I appreciate that. [↩]
It’s got some good moments, but the movie is mainly full of dumb. [↩]
Back in Dublin for my last night in Ireland. I was sorry to leave the Old Rectory – in fact, I spent so long talking1 to Mary and her daughter, I thought for a second I was going to miss my bus to Dublin. I could easily have spent another week there.
Back in Dublin, I checked into the hotel near the airport, and then took the bus into the city centre to do some last-minute gift-buying. When I got off the bus on O’Connell Street, it felt oddly like coming home. I really love this city.
I could live here.
Of course, as I walked down to Grafton Street, the sky was more clear and blue than I think I’ve seen it on this trip. And I hadn’t brought my camera. Oh, well.
The trip has been a lot of fun. I’ve very tired, with a bit of a cold, and am ready to go home. But I’m also really sorry to leave Ireland. This is an amazing place – both countries. I’ve met so many nice people, and seen so many awesome places – even with the few things I missed doing2, this trip has been everything I might have hoped.
So, farewell, Ireland. Thanks for everything. I’ll miss you.
Today was my last day in Dublin1, and tonight is my last night at Ariel House.
I can’t say enough good things about Ariel House – my room is comfortable, the bed is very nice, the breakfasts are wonderful2, they have a laundry service, and the DART station is a two-minute walk. Then it’s about a six-minute ride on the DART train to downtown Dublin, so even though it’s a little way out of the downtown area, it doesn’t cause a problem.
The best thing about Ariel House, though, is the people who work here. Everyone is amazingly friendly and helpful, ready to jump in to help with advice, recommendations, and help with making arrangements. It’s a wonderful place to stay, and I recommend it whole-heartedly.
Anyway, for my last day, I had nothing scheduled. This was the day I had set aside to catch up on the things that I had missed on the other tours. Of course, that’s impossible; there’s just too much stuff here in the city. Still, I had to give it a try.
First of all, I had to go take a closer look at the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square.
My next stop was the National Museum of Ireland. There are actually three of these, and I went to the Anthropology and History.
On the way there, I passed by this little spot, just tucked in between a couple of buildings.
I took a lot of pictures. I mean, on the previous days, I took between twenty and forty pictures. Today, I took over a hundred and forty, and most of those were at the museum.
I’m not going to post them all here, though. I’ll just provide a sampling.
There are a lot more pictures from the museum, but those will do for now. I have to get the rest of them uploaded and sorted.
I headed down to O’Connell Street, next. I had walked it a little bit on Tuesday, but didn’t get the pictures I wanted, so I came back today to take them.
At this point, I pulled out my map and decided to go find St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which I hadn’t got a really good look at, yet. It was quite a wander, and I got lost a couple of times. On the way, I passed Christchurch Cathedral again, but from a different angle than I had seen before.
I found St. Patrick’s, right when the sky opened up and rained. I stayed there under my umbrella, and the rain stopped after about ten minutes, so I was able to get these pictures.
It was getting on in the afternoon, and it was a good long walk back to the DART station, so I headed back then. I went by way of Grafton Street, to try and get a few pictures there, and was well-rewarded.
And then I made it back to Ariel House.
Now, everything is packed, and I’m ready to head off to Cork – with a stop at Cashel – tomorrow morning.
I’m gonna miss Dublin.
Well, except for the overnight when I come down from Belfast to catch the plane back. But that doesn’t really count. [↩]
Confession time. I’ve only had porridge every morning, but it’s their Orchard Porridge, with apples, raisins, walnuts, and stuff. It’s more than enough to keep me going for the day, and it’s delicious. [↩]