Back to Dublin

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 picked this place mainly because of the location. This is the view out the window. That’s St. Patrick’s Park right across the street, right beside the cathedral. I am, I must say, pretty happy with my choice.

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.

Mostly Churches, and the Long Journey Home

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.

The ride went through Phoenix Park. This is the phoenix monument in the middle of the park. The name of the park, though, comes from the Irish words for Clear Water - they just sound like Phoenix.
The ride went through Phoenix Park. This is the phoenix monument in the middle of the park. The name of the park, though, comes from the Irish words for Clear Water – they just sound like Phoenix.
The band dark plaques set in the base of the obelisk are made of Napoleon's captured canons, melted down to celebrate Wellington's victories. I thought I would spend some time in Phoenix Park, but it would take me the entire day to do the park justice. I decided I had other things I preferred to do.
The band dark plaques set in the base of the obelisk are made of Napoleon’s captured canons, melted down to celebrate Wellington’s victories. I thought I would spend some time in Phoenix Park, but it would take me the entire day to do the park justice. I decided I had other things I preferred to do.

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.

There was some sort of fair going on at Christchurch. I got a really tasty bratwurst and an ice cream cone for lunch and some very nice fudge to take home.
There was some sort of fair going on at Christchurch. I got a really tasty bratwurst and an ice cream cone for lunch and some very nice fudge to take home.
I didn't get inside Christchurch last visit. It's beautiful and impressive.
I didn’t get inside Christchurch last visit. It’s beautiful and impressive.
This is the resting place of Strongbow, who is an interesting figure in Irish history. He was an Anglo-Norman knight who came to help the king of Leinster regain his kingdom. Some see him as the beginning of English rule, while others see him as a liberator. He was a popular figure in Kilkenny; less so in other parts of the country.
This is the resting place of Strongbow, who is an interesting figure in Irish history. He was an Anglo-Norman knight who came to help the king of Leinster regain his kingdom. Some see him as the beginning of English rule, while others see him as a liberator. He was a popular figure in Kilkenny; less so in other parts of the country.
The altar of the Christchurch.
The altar of the Christchurch.
The engraved stone pulpits and the eagle lecterns are traditional.
The engraved stone pulpits and the eagle lecterns are traditional.

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.

Climbing up the stairs in the transept, you then have to cross the roof of Christchurch to the bell tower. The view is stunning.
Climbing up the stairs in the transept, you then have to cross the roof of Christchurch to the bell tower. The view is stunning.
The Ringer's Room. No bells here; they're in another room up above. The man on the left is the Ringing Master. He was wonderfully mad about bells and the ringing, and gave us a great lesson on the history and technique of bell ringing.
The Ringer’s Room. No bells here; they’re in another room up above. The man on the left is the Ringing Master. He was wonderfully mad about bells and the ringing, and gave us a great lesson on the history and technique of bell ringing.
We didn't get to ring the main bells - they're set upside down and have a good chance to drag a novice ringer up to the ceiling if you over-pull. We rang bells that were hanging mouth-down, using a technique called chiming, which is a sort of weird counterintuitive method. I wasn't able to get a picture of me ringing the bells, but here are some others in the group.
We didn’t get to ring the main bells – they’re set upside down and have a good chance to drag a novice ringer up to the ceiling if you over-pull. We rang bells that were hanging mouth-down, using a technique called chiming, which is a sort of weird counterintuitive method.
I wasn’t able to get a picture of me ringing the bells, but here are some others in the group.
The crypts below Christchurch are extensive. A lot of the treasures of the cathedral are on display down there.
The crypts below Christchurch are extensive. A lot of the treasures of the cathedral are on display down there.
One of the things on display is a case with a cat and a rat. One chased the other into the pipe organ, and they were mummified there.
One of the things on display is a case with a cat and a rat. One chased the other into the pipe organ, and they were mummified there.

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.

One of the main sections of St. Patrick's Cathedral is the hall where the colours of the Irish regiments hang. By tradition, when an Irish regiment is disbanded or retired, its colours are hung in this hall until they rot away.
One of the main sections of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the hall where the colours of the Irish regiments hang. By tradition, when an Irish regiment is disbanded or retired, its colours are hung in this hall until they rot away.
All the cathedrals and churches have monuments, paid for by wealthy parish members for their loved ones. St. Patrick's has more than any other church I've seen.
All the cathedrals and churches have monuments, paid for by wealthy parish members for their loved ones. St. Patrick’s has more than any other church I’ve seen.

I don’t have a good picture of the whole interior; the place was just too full of people for that.

This statue was said to be St. Patrick, but really it was cobbled together from older statues of other people that were found lying around the city. They couldn't find any good feet, so a labourer just hacked them out of stone - they look terribly out of place compared to the detailed carving on the rest of the pieces.
This statue was said to be St. Patrick, but really it was cobbled together from older statues of other people that were found lying around the city. They couldn’t find any good feet, so a labourer just hacked them out of stone – they look terribly out of place compared to the detailed carving on the rest of the pieces.
Jonathan Swift is a big deal at St. Patrick's. He was Dean for a fair long while, very active in the city politics, and was buried here. Beside him is buried his companion, Esther Johnson. No one is certain what the relationship between the two was - some say friends, some say lovers, some say they were secretly married, some say they were half-brother and half-sister (Swift's childhood is kind of strange, so the records are not clear).
Jonathan Swift is a big deal at St. Patrick’s. He was Dean for a fair long while, very active in the city politics, and was buried here. Beside him is buried his companion, Esther Johnson. No one is certain what the relationship between the two was – some say friends, some say lovers, some say they were secretly married, some say they were half-brother and half-sister (Swift’s childhood is kind of strange, so the records are not clear).
In among the monuments for wealthy, important folks, there's a plaque on the wall to one Alexander McGee. This was a long-time servant of Swift's, and Swift had him interred in the walls of the cathedral both as thanks for his loyal service and to point out the equal value the church should place on the souls of the rich and the poor.
In among the monuments for wealthy, important folks, there’s a plaque on the wall to one Alexander McGee. This was a long-time servant of Swift’s, and Swift had him interred in the walls of the cathedral both as thanks for his loyal service and to point out the equal value the church should place on the souls of the rich and the poor.
"Here is laid the Body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Sacred Theology, Dean of this Cathedral Church, where fierce Indignation can no longer injure the Heart. Go forth, Voyager, and copy, if you can, this vigorous (to the best of his ability) Champion of Liberty. He died on the 19th Day of the Month of October, A.D. 1745, in the 78th Year of his Age." Yeah, Swift wrote his own epitaph. He was like that.
“Here is laid the Body
of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Sacred Theology,
Dean of this Cathedral Church,
where fierce Indignation
can no longer
injure the Heart.
Go forth, Voyager,
and copy, if you can,
this vigorous (to the best of his ability)
Champion of Liberty.
He died on the 19th Day of the Month of October,
A.D. 1745, in the 78th Year of his Age.”
Yeah, Swift wrote his own epitaph. He was like that.
Okay, remember last trip, I got a picture of these strange sculptures in front of St. Patrick's. They are apparently representative of needles and pins, to honour the Royal School of Needlecraft, who produced eight beautiful altar cloths for the cathedral that are still in use today. Look carefully at the hole at the top of the tall one.
Okay, remember last trip, I got a picture of these strange sculptures in front of St. Patrick’s. They are apparently representative of needles and pins, to honour the Royal School of Needlecraft, who produced eight beautiful altar cloths for the cathedral that are still in use today.
Look carefully at the hole at the top of the tall one.
Yes, some clever person has put a small stuffed camel in the eye of the needle. It's tied in there with a fine golden chain. Street commentary.
Yes, some clever person has put a small stuffed camel in the eye of the needle. It’s tied in there with a fine golden chain. Street commentary.

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 doesn't look nearly as sinister in the day time.
It doesn’t look nearly as sinister in the day time.
The roof was removed from about two-thirds of the church as the parish shrank and grew poorer. Part of the roofless church is left open to the elements.
The roof was removed from about two-thirds of the church as the parish shrank and grew poorer. Part of the roofless church is left open to the elements.
Another part of the roofless church has been roofed over and turned into a bit of a museum. It's a small museum, but really quite beautiful, and with some great folks working there. John took this picture, and we talked for quite some time about the history of the church, of Ireland, of Canada, and lots of other stuff. Very friendly, very knowledgable. What's that on the wall behind me? The seal of St. Anne, which was used to seal legal documents and contracts. Not this big one, of course. This one was symbolic, and used to swear oaths and such.
Another part of the roofless church has been roofed over and turned into a bit of a museum. It’s a small museum, but really quite beautiful, and with some great folks working there. John took this picture, and we talked for quite some time about the history of the church, of Ireland, of Canada, and lots of other stuff. Very friendly, very knowledgable.
What’s that on the wall behind me? The seal of St. Anne, which was used to seal legal documents and contracts. Not this big one, of course. This one was symbolic, and used to swear oaths and such.
Quite a contrast to the cathedrals. St. Audoen's is tiny, beautiful, and perfect.
Quite a contrast to the cathedrals. St. Audoen’s is tiny, beautiful, and perfect.
The lucky stone of St. Audoen's. There's a long write-up on the history of the stone, and all the strange things and miracles attributed to it. John told me to be sure and touch it, as it would grant me luck for a year.
The lucky stone of St. Audoen’s. There’s a long write-up on the history of the stone, and all the strange things and miracles attributed to it. John told me to be sure and touch it, as it would grant me luck for a year.

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.

The Brazen Head exterior. The interior has an open courtyard, surround by little rooms, each with a little bar. Upstairs are some nice private dining rooms.
The Brazen Head exterior. The interior has an open courtyard, surround by little rooms, each with a little bar. Upstairs are some nice private dining rooms.
The dinner was great. Johnny was the host, and gave us a lot of good and entertaining information about the lives and beliefs of common folk in Ireland. One of my favourite bits was his talk about the fairy world - Johnny did an excellent job of explaining the magical thinking that led to the development of the fairy faiths.
The dinner was great. Johnny was the host, and gave us a lot of good and entertaining information about the lives and beliefs of common folk in Ireland. One of my favourite bits was his talk about the fairy world – Johnny did an excellent job of explaining the magical thinking that led to the development of the fairy faiths.

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┬áback 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.

  1. 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. []
  2. 86, they told me this time. I really don’t know what this obsession is with counting them. It only makes things worse. []

Dublin Walkabout

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.

It’s a Huguenot cemetery, right in the heart of the city.

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.

Here’s a reconstruction of a passage tomb, made with stone from authentic passage tombs that have not survived.
This is an unfinished dugout canoe that is a little better than fifty feet long.
The National Museum of Ireland has the largest collection of Bronze Age gold in Europe, I am told. They also have some nice amber and bronze decorations.
A collection of items from the Dowris Hoard. I had to ask what the gourd-shaped things were. Got some interesting theories.
This is the Tara Brooch. It’s amazingly beautiful. The picture can’t do it justice.

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.

The foot of O’Connell Street, from the O’Connell Street Bridge. That’s the statue of Daniel O’Connell, with the spire rising in the background.
Here’s the front of the General Post Office. I don’t think you can see them, but there are chips and bullet scars in the walls and pillars.
A look at the spire in the daytime. It’s really tall.
The monument to Charles Stuart Parnell at the top of O’Connell Street.
A view of the Ha’Penny Bridge from the O’Connell Street Bridge. It’s actually called the Wellington Bridge, and was originally commissioned by the Duke of Wellington, but everyone called it the Ha’Penny Bridge because that’s what the toll was to cross it.
Things are tough in Ireland right now, and there are a number of people begging on the streets of Dublin. This fellow created a poem explaining his situation.

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.

I don’t know what these are meant to be, but they look kinda cool and they are on the sidewalk outside of St. Patrick’s.
St. Patrick’s was built outside the walls of Dublin so that it wouldn’t fall under the purview of the monks at Christchurch. It was a collegiate church, meaning it was run by a lay brotherhood.
The area north of the cathedral is a public park. It’s very nice.
The churchyard behind the cathedral.

 

The Guinness family financed the restoration of St. Patrick’s. Christchurch was restored with money from Jameson’s distillery. So, the two cathedrals were restored by whiskey and beer.

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.

Despite the fine drizzle, the street was very busy.
You have to admire someone who’ll haul down a hammer harp on a drizzly afternoon to do some busking.
These guys were down at the other end of Grafton Street. I could hear them from half-way down the street.
When I saw this scene, I realized that I was in love with Dublin. If you can’t see everything that’s awesome about this picture, then you have no soul.

And then I made it back to Ariel House.

Now, everything is packed, and I’m ready to head off to Cork – with a ┬ástop at Cashel – tomorrow morning.

I’m gonna miss Dublin.

  1. Well, except for the overnight when I come down from Belfast to catch the plane back. But that doesn’t really count. []
  2. 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. []