Day 15 (May 5, 2011)
Itinerary: Laundry, explore Dublin on foot, tour Trinity College and the Book of Kells, visit the National Archeology and History Museum, dinner and show at the Merry Ploughboys Pub, pub crawling at night
We are getting into a pattern of enjoying the free wifi in the mornings and doing the touring in the afternoon after lunch. It’s a pretty good pattern now that we have fast wifi. By the way, we still want to pronounce it weefee as it was pronounced in Spain. This morning it was time to visit the laundromat and get some real washing done. We travel lightly with ony 2 or 3 pairs of any piece of clothing. Most of it I wash every other night in the hotel sink, but some of the larger items are better done in an actual machine.
Our B&B host helped me find a self serve laundromat and in under an hour we were back in our room to get ready for the rest of the day. In the city center, we found a decent place for sandwiches and then set off on foot to explore Dublin. The day is gray, chilly and threatening rain. This is fairly typical weather, but it is always disappointing to have to keep my camera in my backpack due to rain.
First stop was Trinity College. We found out that we missed the student-led tour of campus, so we headed directly to the library to see the Book of Kells and it’s exhibit. The Book of Kells is or is one of the oldest books in the world. It was written at about year 800 or slightly before and contains mostly Gospel from the New Testament. The exhibit had a good information and history section before we actually got to see the book displayed in a dim room in a case of course. No photos of course. The book was in amazing condition considering how old it was. I’m sure parts of it have been restored to an extent, but I just couldn’t get over how well it was preserved. One of the more interesting exhibits before we found the book was a video on how they used to bind books back in the day. After the Book of Kells we were able to view a portion of the library holding very old books. The books were roped off of course. I would have loved to reach up and flip through one, but several were in display cases for viewing. The bookshelves themselves with the old leather-bound books were straight out of a Harry Potter movie. In addition to the books, one of the only 3 remaining original Gaelic harps from the 14th or 15th centuries is housed here at Trinity College. This one is called Brian Boru’s harp and is the symbol of Ireland. One of the other two remaining harps is housed at the Guinness Storehouse. As it turns out, I managed to exit the exhibit before seeing the harp. Boo. But Mark got to see it and I’ll see the one at Guinness instead.
Dublin is a bit gray and drizzly today, and with the combination of the exhibits that don’t allow photography, I did not take many photos at all today. After Trinity College we hit up the National Archaeology and History Museum down the street and stayed until closing time. Apparently the peat bogs in Ireland were once used as places to store artifacts and preserved those artifacts more than just regular ground would, so many items were on display.
At this point, we just had about 90 minutes to kill before our shuttle to the Merry Ploughboy’s pub would pick us up, so we walked along Grafton Street and eventually ended up in a pub for a pint while we waited. Oh, we did stop at Butler’s Chocolate Shop to find some chocolate while we walked. I saw they had a Cookie Hot Chocolate on their menu, so I asked what is a cookie hot chocolate. Well, the guy said, it’s a hot chocolate with a couple oreos thrown in. I said, inside the hot chocolate? He said yes. I then said, I’ll have one cookie hot chocolate. =) It was indeed very tasty with two full oreos inside the hot chocolate cup.
The shuttle driver to the Merry Ploughboy’s pub was very lively and friendly. (Nosy, not friendly, I hear.) A couple from Lebanon and Saudi that have lived in Houston before joined us. Between their oil/gas connections and middle east connections, we had a lot to chat about. They were here for a conference. Also a group of three Russians joined us as well, but they did not speak much English. Eventually we made it to the pub that featured a music show including Irish dancing. I came to Ireland to see Irish dancing and have yet not found any. I had really been hoping to find some at the Pan Celtic festival in Dingle, but that didn’t happen. Anyway, though this pub was extremely touristy, it did feature the dancing I craved, so I was happy. The dinner was good and the musical performance was really mostly crowd pleaser Irish tunes that we’ve now heard time and time again. I could have done with some other tunes as well thrown in there. After all, there are about 6000 Irish tunes, but this was okay. I didn’t expect anything else. The dancing was decent and the evening was over too quickly.
Back in the city center, Mark and I went pubbing to find more trad sessions. It was raining on and off again which makes pubbing rather difficult, but we managed to find music. At one pub, the one the Dubliners (a group of popular musicians) started in, we found a real trad session going on. I say real becaue it consisted of about 8 or so musicians in a group with no microphone and just playing along to any tune they felt like. Several of the group members were obviously new to their instruments or maybe just lacked confidence because they would just listen for many tunes. While the music was good, the pub noise itself was too loud and the musicians could not combat. Eventually we decided to head back to the Palace Bar only to find that once again, the upstairs section was not open and no music was going on. We walked along the street and ended up back at Gogarty’s pub where we started last night. This place is most certainly touristy and filled of tourists. Oh how I miss the little town pubs full of locals. The music was good, lots of crow-pleasers of course, but it was blaringly loud on the speakers. We stayed here until nearly 1am when we finally took a cab back to our B&B.
I certainly do prefer the small towns to Dublin and I would have loved to go back to The Grand in Killarney for a trad session there. But we are still having fun in Dublin. Tomorrow we’ll hit up the Guinness Storehouse as it will be our last full day in Ireland.