Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is The Republic of Ireland's largest city and it's capital. It is the primary center for arts and culture, education, government, media and communication, and sports in Ireland.
The River Liffey bisects Dublin into two areas, the Northside and the Southside, and is crossed by many bridges

When my husband and I visited Dublin we only had two days scheduled to see the city, so we chose to ride the very convenient "Dublin Tour Hop On Hop Off" double-decker tour buses. A ticket for the bus is valid for 24 hours, and we could get on and off the bus as many times as we wanted over 23 cultural and historical sightseeing stops. We initially stayed on the bus for the approximate one hour and thirty minutes of the entire tour route, entertained by the sights and a lively and informative commentary by the bus driver about the sights we were passing and stopping for. After we rode the bus for the entire tour we then got on and off to see some of the city highlights. The buses run approximately every 10 minutes so it was a wonderful way to see as much of the city as we could in our limited time frame.

Our first stop was Trinity College. Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university" and is the only constituent college of the University of Dublin. Trinity and the University of Dublin form Ireland's oldest and most prestigious university of Ireland.

The Book of Kells is housed in the Old Library building of Trinity College and portions of it can be viewed in a special exhibit. The Book of Kells was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world. It is written on vellum and contains a Latin text of the Gospels accompanied by magnificent and intricate whole pages of decoration with smaller painted decorations appearing throughout the text. No photography was allowed of the manuscript.

We next explored Grafton Street. (picture below) Grafton Street joins Trinity College and St Stephens Green and contains some of Dublin's most select shops and boutiques. The street is closed to vehicular traffic, and musicians, poets, and mime artists commonly perform for the shopping crowds.

Below right is a picture of a statue of legendary, semi-historical Molly Malone. The popular song "Cockles and Mussels," which commemorates Molly has become a sort of unofficial anthem of Dublin city. The statue was erected to her as a monument on the junction of Grafton and Suffolk Streets.
"In Dublin's fair city,
Where girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she pushed her wheelbarrow
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh"!
You can watch a video of the song being sung here.

We then got back on the bus and took a ride to see the famous Guinness Brewery. It is housed in an impressive building where there is a tour available which takes you through the history of Guinness and explains the process of making this treasured stout beer. The most interesting part of it was gaining an understanding of what a great part Guinness has played in the Irish economy, and Irish culture in general. After the tour, you are able to go to the uppermost top of the brewery to the Gravity Bar. Here you can take in the excellent 360 degree views across Dublin while sipping on your complimentary Guinness!

After seeing the brewery we walked over to the Brazen Head -- the oldest bar in Ireland, which dates back to the year 1198. They also have an extensive lunch menu, and my husband and I had a delicious meal there. Most of the larger pubs and hotels in Ireland serve a wonderful "carvery" lunch where you can choose from a selection of freshly cooked meats, potatoes and vegetable dishes.

I also couldn't pass up the opportunity to sample another pint of Guinness! It was the best I've ever tasted!

Our next stop was the Temple Bar neighborhood, which is in an old and quaint section of the city that has attracted many artists, galleries, and studios. It also is a center for Dublin nightlife and has many nightclubs, restaurants, and pubs.

In the Temple Bar area is the Wall Of Fame a monumental tribute to some of Ireland's favorite musical heroes. Twelve artist(s) have been chosen because of their influence on Irish and world music. They include The Chieftains, U2, Enya, and Sinead O’Connor. Each of the 12 has a window devoted to them, framing a large photo. The resulting massive gallery is backlit at night and is quite impressive.

I found this tribute to on of my favorite Irish authors, James Joyce , on Earl Street. I was also thrilled to view an exhibit at The National Library of Ireland at the time about James Joyce and his novel Ulysses.

Below is Christ Church which stands on high ground in the oldest part of the city. This cathedral is one of Dublin's finest historic buildings, and dates back to the year 1030. It was absolutely beautiful both inside and out.

Below is the residence of Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland, called "Aras An Uachtarain " i
n Gaelic. It is located in the very beautiful Phoenix Park in Dublin, which is the largest city park in Europe. Also enclosed within the park's boundaries are a Visitors' Center, Dublin Zoo, and the Residence of the United States' Ambassador.

I hope you enjoyed viewing some of the images we took of Dublin!

I'll leave you with an old Irish blessing...

May love and laughter light your days,and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
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CatHerder said...

GORGEOUS!!!!! I will get there some day....I would love to do the pub/castle tour...and hit Guinness of course! Great pics.

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat! Dublin is so beautiful and historic, thank you so much for taking us there!! Except we had no Guinness at the end of the tour! Ha-Ha! We're getting more snow here today, oh boy, like we need more. Have a grand day lassie! Sherry

Rosie's Whimsy said...

Continuing to enjoy the tour! I love it all. And I can just imagine how good a fresh cold Guinness from the tap would be :-) Rosie

kari and kijsa said...

We are loving this trip...we have never visited Ireland (although one of our brothers is at school in Scotland currently)

Have a blessed day!

smiles, kari & kijsa

Amongst The Oaks said...

Your travelog is fabulous. I would love to visit Ireland. Thanks so much for sharing with us.
Hugs, Laura

Junie Moon said...

Since I can't make it to Ireland right now, I greatly appreciate your posts. What fun and so helpful! I want to see absolutely everything but I do think the Book of Kells pulls at my heart.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

You covered all that in 2 days??
I love another traveler=D You can always find a picture of me having a local brew.

bluemuf said...

Pat, what a great informative and beautiful travel log of your trip to Irland. I also have been reading other posts of yours and find them so interesting. thank you for sharing.

I enjoyed your visit to my blog and I will definately be visiting you again.


Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Lovely! What a wonderful idea - the Hop On Hop Off bus. Great way to see the sites. Dublin looks like a wonderful city. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures and information.

Cape Cod Washashore said...

Oh how beautiful!!! Hubby's side is very much Irish but he's never been there... I'm sure I could presuade him to do so sometime by showing him your photos! =)

Vee said...

Wow! What a great travelogue! And I needed a little getaway today, too. I'll be back to finish reading about your entire trip to Ireland soon.

Thank you for stopping by my little blog today.

Natasha Burns said...

Wow Dublin looks amazing! a friend of mine has been there and absolutely loved it. Thanks for the lovely tour!

Quilter Kathy said...

How wonderful that you could visit Ireland! My husband has always wanted to go there and seems to have an unexplainable affinity for all things Irish! Beautiful photos!