18.06.2010 67 °F
We had a great day today in Dublin! As a result, this post is kind of long … sorry! It’s only been a day since we’ve arrived, but I already feel like I’m getting to “know” the city, how to get around the main areas, and a bit of history. Dublin has such a great vibe – the people are friendly and there to have a good time, there are always TONS of people walking around on the streets, and the general feel is pretty laid back.
We started today with a workout in the gym, followed by a quick grab-and-go breakfast at a local deli. I ordered a double American coffee – it was SOO strong! I never throw away coffee, but this one had to go! We then made our way to Trinity College, where the historical walking tour would start. Our guide was named Cleona and was very friendly and knowledgeable. The whole tour took about 2 hours and took us to the major historical points in Dublin. It was a great overview of the history, without getting into too many details.
A few pictures of Trinity College, and a couple of the interesting facts that stood out from this stop:
-Despite being founded in the 1600s, neither women nor Catholics were allowed to attend Trinity College before the 1900s. Catholics didn’t start attending until late 1970s, actually, due to a ban from the Catholic Church (not from Trinity College).
-The library at Trinity College has a copyright privilege, so it gets a copy of every single book published in Ireland for free every year. If anyone knows how to snag one of those deals, let me know!!!
From Trinity College, we went to the Bank of Ireland, which was initially the House of Parliament. The House of Lords is still preserved (although Parliament is not actually held here anymore), but the House of Commons has been split into several bank chambers so we didn’t see it. Here, the guide talked about Irish history. I was interested that throughout the tour, Cleona was very vocal and open about the conflicts between Ireland and England, as well as between Anglicans/ Protestants and Catholics, but she seemed to skirt around the subject of relations between Northern Ireland and Ireland itself. She did end the tour by highlighting the cease fire between Northern Ireland and Ireland that was activated in 1997 and still stands, and said that the Irish hope it stands permanently. The first statue you see is on top of the Bank of Ireland (Parliament building), and the woman depicted is “Brittania.” The British would not let the Irish remove the statue when the Irish began feeling tension with England, so they built the Irish equivalent statue (I forget her name) across the street, and ensured that she stood a few inches higher than Brittania!
From the Bank of Ireland, we went to the Dublin City Hall. We learned more about politics here, including O’Connell, the guy pictured in the statue here, who was educated in France since he was Catholic and couldn’t go to Trinity College, and was inspired by the fighting going on there to promote violence-free politics in Ireland. Not too much more commentary, but the decorations in this place were great!
We next went to the Dublin Castle, followed by the Christ Church. Not much more relevant commentary here, but some more good pictures! The tour finished in Temple Bar (which is just an area of Dublin, not an actual bar). Other interesting facts from this part were that every school child (from primary through high school!) is taught Gaelic, but very few people actually speak the language. The government wants to preserve it, though, so it sets up financial incentives for people to live in Western Ireland, speak primarily Gaelic, and continue traditional Irish customs. Kev says his favorite part of the tour was learning about Bloody Sunday, since he has heard about it in the U2 song. There were actually 2 Bloody Sundays – one was in 1887 and was a demonstration in London against British control of Ireland; the second was in 1972, and was when the British army shot 13 unarmed protesters in Northern Ireland (and yes, I had to check Wikipedia for those dates!).
After the tour, we walked around Dublin a little bit more, before finding a new pub to watch the the US vs. Slovenia “football” game. The pub was called the Aulde Dubliner and was again very Irish-feeling and authentic. They had some Irish music and several native Dubliners, so it was a lot of fun. We were amazed that SO many people are just sitting in pubs drinking at 2pm on a workday – is this just because of the World Cup, or is this just how people roll in Dublin? We’re not sure! It was fun to see the US play, even though we don’t follow soccer at home. It ended in a tie (2-2), but the US should have won if their 3rd goal wasn’t taken away!
After lunch and the game, we walked along Grafton Street (lots of shops and people walking around) to St. Stephen’s Green, which is a big park in Dublin. It was nice to walk around and very pretty. We also stopped in St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Center to get some thank-you cards, as we realized we didn’t bring enough from the States. If you’re reading this and you got us a gift, please accept the delay in thank-you note – it’s coming from across the pond eventually!!!
After the walk, I took a 20-minute power snooze, and we headed back out to a pub to watch the second World Cup game, England vs. Algeria. This one was more boring (0-0 tie), but it was fun to watch the Irish cheer so vehemently against England! I had vegetable soup (again! The way they make it here is great – it’s kind of like pureed vegetables instead of broth with vegetables floating in it) and Greek salad; Kev had beef lasagna (which, like everything, came with “chips” (fries) and salad). We strolled around a bit after the game, but are heading to bed now, as we have to be at the train station at 6:40am tomorrow for our train day-trip to Western Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher! Stay tuned for tons of pictures tomorrow!