Day Eight - A Whirlwind Tour of Dublin

Together with our new friends, Bill and Mary, we started out the day at Trinity College, to check out the Book of Kells, which is a 9th Century illustrated manuscript of the Four Gospels chronicling the life of Jesus. There is a display of other medieval manuscripts and books as well, along with explanations about the history of the BOK. There is also an explanation of how the book would have been made by the monks, with both scribes and artists working on it. They believe that there were only four main scribes and possibly three illustrators that worked on the Book, which is most impressive, given the intricacy of the calligraphy and the illustrations. The Book has been separated into the four gospels for display purposes, and only two are on display at any one time, the displays being changed once every three months. It gave me goosebumps to think of being in the presence of an artifact that old.

On to the Long Room, which is the library of Trinity College, housing some 200 000 volumes, any of which can be borrowed by the students and faculty of the college, to be read in the adjoining Reading Room. There are volumes which are hundreds of years old, some of which are bound by cloth strips to hold them together. Every one of the books has been catalogued, using an interesting system of letters and numbers. Each small section has either one or two capital letters, and each shelf in the section has either a single or double lowercase letters and then the books themselves are numbered according to their position on the shelf. So a volume might be designated MM dd 1. The shelves reach at least three stories high and are accessible by the iconic movable ladders. In between the stacks are positioned busts of famous people from history - authors, politicians, nobility. It is truly an awe-inspiring sight to stand in that room and stare up at the thousands of volumes and think of all the knowledge that is contain within.

From there, we hoofed it over to O'Connell Square to connect with a Yellow Umbrella historical tour. Our guide, David, was amazing. He gave us an in-depth insight into Ireland's history from the very earliest invasions up to the present. While we did stop at a number of different sights in the centre of Dublin, it was more the information that he was imparting that was the focus of the tour, as opposed to the typical tourist sights. Not only was he a very well-versed historian, but also managed to inject a fair bit of very wry humour into the presentation. We came away with very full heads!!

Intrepid tourists that we are, we decided to forego lunch (other than a quick snack stop during the tour) and head right on over to the Jameson Distillery. This is a venture that has had a presence in Dublin since the late 1700’s and is still in production today, though their main distillery operation has moved out of Dublin. The tour was excellent, taking us through a very slick audio/visual/tactile presentation, but accompanied by a most personable young lady as our guide. We got to sample not only Jameson whiskey, but also some scotch whisky and some American bourbon, to compare the differences in taste among the three. Personally I preferred the Jameson. After the tour, we stopped for our free sample of Jameson, with a choice of neat, on the rocks, or in a mixed drink. I chose the latter, a concoction of Jameson, gingerale and lime and I tell you it was a mighty fine libation!

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in Temple Bar, which is actually where we were staying, and which is THE happening place in town. The pub at Gogarty's was calling our name, so we plunked ourselves down for a pint. It didn't take long for it to get rowdy, with the addition of two lively musicians and a group of young men who I think were still celebrating Sunday's win of Dublin over Kerry. What struck me as funny was that when the musicians started playing a John Denver tune (Country Roads) everyone in the pub sang along. Same went for a Johnny Cash tune! We almost hated to leave, but our stomachs were telling us we'd skipped lunch so we'd best feed them!

A quick stop at the hotel then off to O'Neills, which our guide David had recommended. It was a great place to eat, with a carvery type of set up where you could have any one of a large selection of mains and a choice of six veggies. We waddled out of there quite satiated! Turns out we should have stayed on, as the two young women on the tour, Christy and Sara, did, and enjoyed an evening of Irish music and dancing! But after all that walking today, we were pretty bushed, so headed off "home".