A day in Dublin
We’ve actually been to the city of green pillar boxes before, but I’m not sure a couple of hours in the Temple Bar really counts. So, for our first real day in Dublin, we set out after breakfast with umbrellas and sweaters but fingers crossed, we’d need neither.
Our first stop was Dublin Castle and that small break in the clouds wasn’t quite enough to tempt us take off our sweaters just yet. In fact, there was quite a chill wind blowing and we were rather pleased to step inside for a while.
Though the interiors were interesting and the history well presented, the star of the show for me was the Playing with Tradition exhibition, where traditional crafts were presented in a contemporary style.
My favourite was All About Sleeves, by Karen Brennan. Made in Irish Linen, these exquisitely made cuffs were presented as a means of dressing up a T shirt or worn over or under another sleeve. Clearly, they were a favourite with others too, for there were none to be bought, no information cards to be had or story to be found. They spoke for themselves – very well, too.
We’d seen plenty of tourists around yesterday and if we had wondered then if there was anyone left in the rest of Europe, today would confirm that doubt. Everywhere we went there were hordes of tourists and yes, although we four counted amongst that number, I hope we were less obtrusive than the larger, guided groups who must make life in the city incredibly difficult for the residents. Still, we all bring in the Euros…
Our next stop was packed full of tourists too.
I was quite keen to see the Guinness storehouse (no longer a factory) and it was an easy walk from the castle. The queues to get in made me wonder if I’d been a little hasty in my enthusiasm, though.
We headed straight upstairs to the Gravity Bar, from where there was a splendid view now the clouds were beginning to break up. Even at this hour of the morning, the Guinness was flowing freely, not that we were ready to join the drinkers just yet.
During the next couple of hours, we followed the pathway through the five floors of exhibits most of which were a little thin on content. This whole place was a triumph of design and though I loved the graphics and the manner in which the whole place had been styled, the information presented would have easily have fitted in one small display. Still, here was a huge former storehouse to spread it out…
One floor was dedicated to the Academy, where visitors could be taught how to pour a glass of Guinness. We looked at the queue and chose to be visual rather than kinaesthetic learners – none of us really felt the need to stand behind the pumps and pour it ourselves when we could watch the experts!
Instead, we went to the tasting room, to listen to Grainne (pronounced Gronya) explain about the flavours and to sample a tiny glass to experience them for ourselves. And though we walked through the exhibition about the brewing process, my favourite part of the whole place was on the fifth floor.
Here, we found four chairs by an open window and with a fine view of the city and a pint of Guinness in hand, for half an hour or so I enjoyed a little respite from the crowds.
It didn’t last long, however. Our next stop was St Patricks Cathedral, where the queues were as long as for the Guinness!
Once inside, we each went our own way to take a look around.
I joined the brass rubbers and created my own souvenir before moving along to take a closer look in a couple of the quieter corners.
It was actually a rather lovely space. Peaceful and understated; crowded but with quiet and respectful people. I was glad we’d come here.
How many times do I get to stand on such a beautiful floor?
Actually, the cathedral looks rather larger and grander from outside than from within. Having approached it from the “wrong” side, we’d not had the benefit of the lovely garden setting, either. On this warm and sunny afternoon, we got an altogether different impression as we left, heading back into the city.
Our last stop of the day was Trinity College, where we joined a small group led by a student. Here too, the crowds were out in force, but somehow she managed to keep us together.
We’d intended to see the Book of Kells but this time, the queue defeated us. At 4 in the afternoon, we were just too weary and footsore to stand for another hour or more and decided we will just have to come back to Dublin once again to see it.
This evening, we’ve been to the theatre, to see “Once”. Though we’d not heard of it before, Ellis and Mary had seen it on Broadway and loved it.
We did too!
What a great way to end a fantastic day in Dublin. Tomorrow, we’re moving on and I hope we’ll leave some of the crowds behind as we head off into the countryside. I’ll let you know if we find a bit more breathing space later.