The path to this city break was not an easy one. A fellow AIS family offered the services of their visiting niece for house-sitting and so forth, and after making contact and securing the young woman’s assurance and willingness to sit for Clayton Theodore, I booked our flights. Then, the young woman disappeared from our radar AND after reappearing, failed to meet as scheduled, sending us into scramble mode to find a replacement sitter. Personal responsibility is difficult for some, I guess.
Thanks to a genuinely thoughtful and responsible classmate of Anna Grace who was thrilled to sit for CTF, we departed for Dublin feeling confident that Clayton Theodore would be well cared for. In fact, he turned out to be the SnapChat star of the sitter’s newsfeed. But that is his story to tell.
Aer Lingus took us to and from the Emerald Isle and to be honest, we were not impressed at all with the carrier. The seats and legroom on the plane were most obviously designed by, and for, leprechauns, so poor Tony and Anna Grace suffered on the outbound. We paid the additional fees for “Exit Row” seats so the return would be bearable for them, and felt incredibly insulted for having to do so. Why are tall persons discriminated against? On its “domestic” flights Aer Lingus only provides food and beverage for a fee, as well. Asking for a cup of water was met with a stink-eye. Ugh.
At least the flight was timely, and we caught the airport shuttle to our apart-hotel in good order. With just a few hours of the afternoon remaining, our only order of business was a tour of the Patron Beer of Ireland Brewhouse. Guinness, of course. The tour is self-guided, but rather unfortunately the queue for the, “Pouring Academy,” where one learns to pour the perfect pint included with the entrance ticket was terribly long, so we skipped it in lieu of a real pint at dinner.
Another institution, Ireland’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head was our choice for dinner. In spite of its popularity, we and perhaps one other group seemed to be the only non-locals (that would be a good thing). We settled in to a cozy table by the fireplace for a couple of pints and classic Irish fare.
Wherein our half-Irish Lass discovers that the Irish know a thing or two about potatoes. 🙂
Our full day in Dublin proper was Irish History Immersion! Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university and one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland (and founded by Queen Elizabeth I). Lots of bragging rights!
This visit to Dublin often gave us pause. With similar street names and architecture, we kept asking ourselves, “Are we in New England? Virginia?” As for the Trinity campus, some of the quads could easily have been the models for our own alma mater!
The college library is home to, amongst its vast collection of ancient manuscripts, The Book of Kells, an exquisitely illustrated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. It is Ireland’s oldest and most cherished national treasure. Though permitted only to look at two of the 340 pages (and absolutely take no photos!); the supplementary information boards wove the tale of the 9th century monks, living on a small island of the Hebrides who created these books. The tour, and the Book itself, were well worth having made the time for.
Christ Church. Nearly a millennium old; founded by Vikings and rebuilt in stone by the Normans; and converted to a Cathedral by Henry VIII. And if that isn’t enough history to make your head swirl, the first performance of Handel’s Messiah was sung here in 1742.
Not the oldest, but the tallest and the largest cathedral in Ireland dedicated to its Patron Saint, St. Patrick’s. Built on a former island, the waterways of which are now the park, it is near this site that St. Patrick performed baptisms in the 6th century. Inside the cathedral is the cover for the well used by St. Patrick.
Well within the Irish history theme, the National Leprechaun Museum. Not at all hokey, but a rather enjoyable introduction to Irish folklore.
According to folklore, Leprechauns were clever shoemakers that roamed about, making merry music on their flutes in order to encourage people to dance; and when people wore out their dancing shoes, the Leprechauns were more than willing to repair the shoes, for a gold coin, which they collected in pots…
The Leprechauns even had a uniform of sorts, like a tiny Boy Scout.
But leave it to Walt Disney to forever alter the image of the Leprechaun. In 1959 Disney released, Darby O’Brien and the Little People, forever changing how the world sees the tiny shoemakers.
The remainder of the tour was light-hearted. We “shrunk” to the size of a Leprechaun; listened to beautiful stories of the fairies and other magical creatures from which Ireland was birthed; passed through a rainbow to view an authentic pot of gold; and then emerged life-size to meet a “real” Leprechaun. Fun!
But the day was not over! After another Irish Pub lunch (of course), we toured the Easter Uprising Museum, located at the headquarters of the Irish Rebellion in 1916 and the movement which paved the way for Irish Independence in 1922. A moving and well told story, better experienced in person than through any photos I could have taken.
And finally, a walk in the late afternoon to the Famine Memorial at Dublin Port.
We had the luck of the Irish with us on this carefully-scripted day; and though the, ‘Brellies were on “Standby,” not one drop of rain fell on us.