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A Brief Visit to Ireland in 2002
Photo Links: Dublin

Journal Entry: Monday, April 29, 2002
We flew from Frankfurt to Dublin with no problem and took a taxi to the Hotel Central, which really was. It was convenient to be able to use the same currency in Germany and Ireland, and to be able to speak English, even though we had to listen very hard to understand the local accent. We walked around the city to get our bearings and had dinner in the Temple Bar area at The Oliver St. John Gogarty Restaurant, a very touristy "traditional" Irish eatery with great decor. Gloria had Traditional Irish Stew with lamb, and I had Uncle Arthur's Beef Casserole (with the beef marinated in Guiness) and, of course, a pint of Guiness. All of it was delicious.

Journal Entry: Tuesday, April 30, 2002
We walked across the Liffey River, past the 1882 monument to O'Connell, an early martyr to the cause of Irish independence, to the Dublin Bus Station and took a double-decker bus driven by Damian, an Irish comic and singer. Most of his jokes and comments were very funny, but I most enjoyed it when he went round and round a roundabout pretending he was lost. He drove us north through lots of suburbs into the countryside and Malahide Castle, formerly belonging to the Talbots, a Norman family. Then we went on to Howth, a fishing/resort community on Dublin Bay, and back into the city by way of Fairview, home of Bram Stoker of Dracula fame. Just before we got back to Dublin Damian had everyone sing "Molly Malone," and the group did a very good job of it.

After returning we walked to Christchurch Cathedral, an imposing, nineteenth-century Gothic structure, and visited Dublinia, a hands-on museum of Dublin's history, located in the former synod of the cathedral and arranged like a medieval city. We had dinner at an Indian restaurant, "Jewel in the Crown."

Journal Entry: Wednesday, May 1, 2002
We started early and visited Trinity College where we went to their famous library and got to see the original manuscript pages of the Book of Kells, an illuminated (i.e., hand-painted in brilliant colors) version of the Gospels begun by Irish monks on the island of Kells in the eleventh century. The exhibit was excellent, with giant blow-ups of the pages, lots of history panels, and videos of all the aspects of ancient writing and bookbinding. After that we went to the National Museum to see displays of Ireland's pre-history, medieval period and viking conquests, plus neolithic and Bronze Age gold hoards found in Irish bogs.

In the afternoon we took a very boring tour of the South Coast through Wicklow County, but to compensate, that night we saw "The Scorpion King" on a big screen.

Journal Entry: Thursday, May 2, 2002
After a Traditional Irish Breakfast of eggs, black and white pudding (blood sausage and some other kind which was brown instead of white), thick bacon, regular sausage, baked beans and mushrooms, we took another tour north of Dublin. We learned a lot about the Norman Hugh de Lacey, saw Killeen Castle and Bective Abbey, and stopped by a wayside cross of stone that actually had holes worn in it from pilgrims' knees. Then we stopped at the Norman ruins of Trim Castle and visited the Hill of Tara from where the Irish kings ruled and St. Patrick was supposed to have confronted the Druid priests. Tara, for which the Southern plantation in "Gone With The Wind" was namedk, is a big, grassy hill with a neolithic burial mound, a ring fort and a mysterious processional way. After that we visited the doubly-stunning site of New Grange, a Neolithic barrow. Words can't do it justice; you'll have to look at the pictures. We went inside the narrow passage with a small tour group and the guide shut off all the lights, then simulated the sun shining in on the summer solstice. The site itself was stunning in a marvelous way. Less marvelous, but just as stunning, was the rich, ripe smell of pig manure coming from an unknown source which surrounded the visitor center, but not, thankfully, the barrow.

This visit was very enjoyable, but far too short. We look forward to the next one.

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Copyright 2002 by Serge King
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