Jam packing some sightseeing in Dublin
National Gallery of Ireland
Friday was jam packed with sightseeing in Dublin. We started by taking a taking a taxi towards the National Gallery of Ireland with a ‘pit stop’ to take a picture of the Oscar Wilde statue at Merrion Square. Our visit to the gallery was quick as they were getting ready to open an exhibit on Caravaggio in a few days. There were only two areas open. If you are into art, their collection includes Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Goya.
Book of Kells
After the gallery we walked to Trinity College to visit the Book of Kells exhibit. You may know cues for this exhibit can be quite lengthy. We were lucky the cold weather and less busy time of the year meant we have very little wait to purchase our tickets. The exhibit includes a large room with videos and written explanations. Although large room, we were packed in pretty tight.
The artistry of this ornate manuscript was captivating. The Book of Kells was written around 800 AD and is four Gospels of the New Testament on calf vellum. Although it was originally bound together, in 1953, they were rebound into four separate books. The second, smaller room was dark and had two of the four books on table-like displays for us to admire.
We then headed upstairs to what was an amazing ‘Harry Potter’ like library they call, The Long Room. They say it measures 65 meters (213.25 feet!) in length and houses around 200,000 books. It was built in the early 1700s and it was full by 1850. The roof was raised to what it looks like now, but it was again full by 1892. Even cooler than the room housing original manuscripts and printed books written in Ireland is the oldest surviving harp. It is constructed from oak and willow with brass strings. It is attributed to Brian Boru (died 1014) a high king of Ireland.
We used our Hop on! Hop off! bus to continue sightseeing in Dublin and get to Dublin Castle. We arrived just in time to join the tour. Although the Chapel Royal was gorgeous and known worldwide for scenes of the ‘Tudors’, for us we thought the visit to the Medieval Undercroft was the coolest part. The guide told us it probably inspired a young Bram Stoker. For a while, he worked in the above building and most likely had access to the area. His father worked up there for decades too. While I’ve looked for confirmation of this and can’t find it, I think I remember the guide saying the building above is still a building dealing with taxes and Stoker’s Dracula was an allegory to the ‘blood sucking’ tax man. Don’t quote me. Feel free to set me straight.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
We also went to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral where again our timing was impeccable. We were able to join a tour that had just started. The cathedral was founded in 1191 and is today the national cathedral. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of the cathedral and his grave can be visited in the cathedral. We found the display of the flags of the Knights of St. Patrick (1783-1871) interesting. They hang over the choir stalls. The cathedral was renovated last in the 1860s and was paid for by Benjamin Guinness when they thought the cathedral was ready to collapse!
We hopped back on our Hop on! Hop off! bus and headed to the Guinness Storehouse. The tour was unimpressive. While my hubby was loving just being there, they did little to assist in the process of moving through. Me, used to following arrows (ie. walked 500 miles following arrows across Spain!), had trouble following the arrows in here. To me, the Guinness Storehouse is a huge building where we got an overpriced pint, plus a little bit (pint’ish’) of Guinness. In the end, the highlight for me was the Gravity Bar, but it was soooooo crowded. My hubby seemed to savor learning how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.
Dining in Dublin
It was finally time for some food! We were starving having been out sightseeing all day! Our wonderful guide from Irish Food Trail had recommended we didn’t leave Ireland without having a good steak. Ummm grass-fed cows roaming free… You don’t have to tell me twice! After a Yelp! search, we determined we needed to go to The Bull and Castle near Christ Church. We weren’t disappointed. Although pricey, it was a fabulous meal I’m glad we didn’t miss. Hubby and I split the 36oz Tomahawk. When it arrived we didn’t think we would finish it, but…we did.
Bar Scene in Dublin
I have to preface this by the fact we just aren’t party animals. However, there were a couple places on our list for a couple of obvious reasons. First we went to the oldest Pub. We followed it by U2’s bar and ended at the smallest pub. There were a couple other stops in between including the bar with the name of the area.
The oldest Pub is the Brazen Head. The pub claims to have been there since 1198. It was by far the best one of the night. They had live music, reasonably priced drinks and enough space to move around.
We headed to the Clarence Hotel. We had been begrudgingly told this was owned by Bono of U2 fame. U2 is a big reason my hubby wanted to go to Dublin and we quickly found out locals don’t seem to like them much. Once inside we headed to the Octagon Bar. The bar was quiet and dated. It was not in the historic type of dated, but the early 1990’s dated.
We walked the Temple Bar area even ducking into the bar named ‘Temple Bar’. Oh my goodness! It was impossible to step into the live music area. No thank you!
We continued our sightseeing in Dublin and our final stop was the smallest pub, Dawson Lounge. On our way we passed St. Ann’s Parish, of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde fame. This pub might be the smallest pub in Dublin, but I’ve seen smaller ones. I know of a pretty tiny one in Key West. I can’t tell you much as when we arrived we had already missed final call. Not bad for ‘non-party animals.’
Stay tuned for our day three (or four)! Click here if you miss out on day one?
Check out my Dublin Shutterfly album!
(I always make Shutterfly books. It’s the best way to preserve the memories in print.)