Showing posts with label Dublin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dublin. Show all posts

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dublin Redux

It's coming up on the two-year anniversary of my trip to Ireland and the UK with my older daughter.

In honor of St. Patrick's day, here are links to the Dublin posts from that trip.

Dublin Travelogue
Pick a Cathedral, Any Cathedral

Turns out my mother's family, the Forsythes, spent several millenia in Ireland, in Cashel, before immigrating to England in the 1840s to work in the mills in Oldham. I imagine the potato famine sent them packing. My grandmother, Edith, immigrated to Canada in 1920 to work in a mill the company opened in Montreal--she was 18 and left with just a girlfriend and a small suitcase. Her stepmother didn't want her to leave, but she wanted a new life for herself.

I never met my grandmother--she died a three years before I was born at age 52 of a brain tumor, but I wish I had. It sounds like she was quite a woman--little formal education but smart as a whip. According to my mother, she did the weekly crossword puzzle and usually won the cash prize for the first correct puzzle turned into the newspaper. She taught herself plumbing and could fix anything. She went to work as a riveter during WWII, and earned nothing but praise for her work.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the Rock of Cashel...

The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.

Works for me...with my imagination I can easily place my ancestors in the crowd when Patrick came calling.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pick a Cathedral, Any Cathedral

With only three days in the Dublin area, and one of them consumed with a trip to Newgrange, we knew that we couldn't see or do everything, most things, or even a fraction of the sites worth visiting in the area. So we decided to only visit one of the two cathedrals within blocks of each other in Dublin. Christ Church Cathedral won the coin toss, so to speak, and just getting to see the mummified cat and rat made me very happy.

The theory is that a cat chased a rat into the pipes of the organ, got stuck, and nature did the rest. James Joyce did his bit too with regards to immortalizing the mummified pair in a simile in Finnegan's Wake: as stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of that christchurch organ...

I loved the floors and the ceilings and the windows too, but the crypt was enchanting. First one I've ever been in. Brought Romeo and Juliet to mind, with the monuments and dim passageways.

According to the pamphlet that came with the self-guided audio tour (of which I am a huge fan...when there isn't a live tour guide, I always go the audio route), these are the foundations of the earliest cathedral built on the site circa 1030 A.D.

After finishing the audio, we made our way to a different part of the Cathedral that is hosting Dublinia, a sort of elementary school age exhibit on Dublin since the time of the Vikings. All I can think of to compare it to is the History of Starrs Hollow diorama that Taylor puts together in The Gilmore Girls. It was so lame that it was fun. Sarah and I were practically the only people there over the age of 10, not counting the teachers who were herding uniform-clad kids from room to room. We did enjoy chatting with this "Viking"--he turned out to be the only live exhibit. Every other exhibit consisted of Macy's mannequins dressed up in furs.

Here, he's imprinting silver coins with a dye on a hammer, and we actually learned a lot about early money as he snipped coins into half-pennies and quarter-pennies before our very eyes!

A big part of the fun of visiting a new place for me is not just seeing the sites, but seeing how "real" people (i.e., non-tourists) live. Sarah and I visited a couple of corner markets and browsed the aisles looking for the familiar and the unfamiliar, and invariably purchased new and interesting snackage items, including the ever popular Roast Chicken crisps, Prawn Cocktail crisps, Mars Planets (which we learned about from the dozen or more episodes of Friends we watched--Friends is sponsered by Mars Planets), and Galaxy chocolate bars (yum!).

We also daily stopped for ice-cream on our walk back to the hotel at the St. Stephens Green Shopping Center, which we both loved for inexpensive clothing stores (it was so warm we had to buy something other than jeans to wear), prom dress stores (Sarah found an awesome gold/black/white dress that was gorgeous but really pricey), phone stores (which we haunted while I was trying to get my iphone to work), and a decent food court.

Last photo for today:

One of my favorite songs that I sang to our kids when they were young was Molly Malone. I always sang:
In London's fair city,
where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"

"Alive, alive, oh,
Alive, alive, oh",
Crying "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh".

But, but...the Molly Malone statue is in Dublin. Good thing we have the Internet and Wikipedia.

Next posting...the musical pub crawl.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Travelogue: Dublin

If Dublin is an accurate reflection of Ireland, then the trinity of religion, Guiness, and Celtic pride still very much defines this lovely place for me. With either a church or a pub on virtually every corner, the middle of the streets are free for the statues of the Irish who rekindled the pride and made independence both politically and culturally possible.

For our first three nights, I chose Camden Court Hotel. While it doesn't have all the charm of a small hotel or B&B, it did give us plenty of space to unpack and adjust to not being in the U.S. Our first room was on the second floor, above a very busy street, and while Sarah, being all of 16, was able to sleep through anything in her jet-lagged state, I woke up regularly that first night...from both the noise and the heat. Yep, the heat. While we were in Dublin, Ireland was experiencing a heat wave. We enjoyed sunny skies for the three days we were in Dublin, and it was still sunny when we returned nine days later for the flight back to the U.S. On the second day, I asked whether the hotel had an open room on a higher floor and in a quieter spot--they did, and the next two days were bliss.

After our spring break trip to NYC, I became a big fan of the Hop On/Hop Off bus with live tour guide. This is a great way to get oriented, see the major sites, hear a local tell his/her stories about the town, and stay vertical while fighting jet lag. The Dublin Hop On/Hop Off bus was great--heard lots of Guinness jokes and lots of North/South of the Liffey jokes and learned a lot about the town itself. Basically all I know about Dublin I learned from reading Edward Rutherford's two-parter The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga and The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga,so this was helpful for both of us.

Our first day of non-jet-lagged tour began with Trinity College and the Book of Kells. We opted for the guided tour of the college and congratulated ourselves repeatedly on going this route--for just a Euro or two, we were expertly guided by a recent graduate who told lots of stories about his time at Trinity, stories about students from the past, and offered strong opinions on the various architectural styles, from the ridiculous to the sublime. He turned us loose when we reached the Book of Kells exhibit.

This is the statue of George Salmon, Provost of Trinity College from 1888 until his death in 1904. Cutting and pasting from Wikipedia:
His deep conservatism led him to strongly oppose women receiving degrees from the University. He eventually agreed to dropping his veto in 1901 when the Board voted in favour of allowing women to enter the university, it was one of his last acts as Provost. Symbolically in January 1904, just after he died, the first women undergraduates were admitted.

According to our sweetheart of a guide, Salmon prophetically muttered something about women entering Trinity over his dead body...:)

On to the Book of Kells, the exhibit itself was really well done--interesting and well laid out and able to accommodate the hordes of people visiting at the same time we were. Actually, there are several other books on display and included in the exhibit along with the Book of Kells. We also saw and learned about the Book of Armagh and the Book of Durrow. As expected, it was very crowded around the display cases holding the actual books and a bit chaotic as there was no offical queue help (i.e., people just sort of shoved their way in when an opening occurred instead of there being a systematic roped path).

We also really enjoyed walking through the Long Room (i.e., the main chamber of the Old Library). It was definitely sacred ground. Musty, dusty, and I felt quite reverential. According the brochure I picked up, it is 65 metres long and houses around 200,000 of the Library's oldest books. According to the guide we picked up, the books are catalogued according to size, smallest to largest. I think he might have been joshing us as we couldn't see evidence that this was the case. They had a great exhibit of detective fiction down the center of the room--first edition Dickens (Bleak House), Wilkie Collins, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, etc.

Next posting...on to Christ Church Cathedral, ice cream, and Molly Malone.