Guiness Storehouse, Book of Kells, St. Patricks.
Trip Start Mar 24, 2004
13Trip End Apr 05, 2004
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Trinity College was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 to "civilize" Dublin. Of course civiliazation meant no women and no Catholics were permitted to attend. That changed about 200 years ago when Catholic men were permitted, and one hundred years later women of any religion could recieve a higher education here. We're about to walk this hallowed grounds of former students Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift. Although we don't have time to cover the 40 acres, we plan to see as much as possible. The buildings are impressive. The bell tower was built in 1853 and dominates the center of the square. Two statues are "planted" on the front lawn. Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke.
The Examination Halls contains a gilded oak chandelier from the old House of Commons, and a beautiful organ from an 18th century Spanish ship. Doesn't say if the ship was wrecked off the coast, or if the English plundered it. Our tickets in hand, we head to the Trinity 's Library for the famous book of Kells. If possible, get these tickets early in the morning or in advance, as this is always a "sell-out"
There is a shorter line than what we expected. An "introduction" room has hi-tech wall mounted screens. If you had time, I would spend at least an hour or two here. One screens shows the "painting" process on a page. Very slowly, very detailed. Then into the "chamber' that holds the Books of Kells, (plural) Originally a 680 pages, it was rebound into four books 1953. The exhibit display two at a time, in a glassed case. You view the first, then go to the opposite side to view the second volume. No one pushes you, and you can observe the detail as long as you wish. Some, will come up and glance, then walk on, but the reason to be here is to actually see the tedious detail work on the designs made by the monks.
A copy of the Book of Kells is also on view in the town of Kells, north of Dublin. We grudgingly leave and walk to the Library.
The Library by itself, if you didn't know about the Book of Kells would be an interesting attraction. The library is the largest reseach facility in Irelanad. But what makes the library impressive, is the size. It's called the Long room and it is just that - measuring in at 213 feet. But the height of the library is surprising. The ceiling was raised and a new barrell vaulted ceiling was installed. The solid oak book shelves, containing leather volumes, line the walls and soar up to the ceiling. White marble busts of famous writers, some as old as 1743 line both sides of the aisles.
The library also houses the oldest harp in Ireland,dated from the 15th century. It's a beauty. This library is definetly a not-miss.
Then we're "hoofing it" to St. Patrick's cathedrial, which isn't Catholic, but Protestant. Completed in 1192, this is a pretty impressive cathedrial, and the longest cathedrial in Ireland. It's 4 euros to get in and well worth it. We were told to look up at the gargoyles on the outside of the building, and yep, they are interesting as all get out. Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulligan's Travels is buried in the cathedrial.
Handel's Messiah first perfomance was her in 1742. The inside is a little dark, but it's still worth trying to get a photo or two. Outside, we walk thru the gardens, which aren't in full bloom since it's not summer.
Then a quick pub lunch and onto Guinness Storehouse. Now I will admit this brewery tour was not high on my list of what to do in Dublin, but Gary wanted to, so we are going. The walk from the pub has us confused. We've asked for directions a few times, and finally someone points us to it.
Unlike the US with all the tourist billboards, Ireland likes to keep its towns clean. Since the Storehouse hasn't been open long, that might have been our problem also. We get to a brick building and go inside to pay.
Inside this is not what I imagined. We're talking a little modern here. The "ground Floor has a large selection of Guinness souvineers. Shirts to posters to everything in between.Then check in to get your little "drop of Guiness" which we're told also entitles us to a big glass of Guiness at the "top".
On to learn about whats in a Guiness. Which from the exhibit we find is water, hops, yeast and barley. And the last exhibit is on the brewmaster himself, Arthur Guiness.
The first floor shows the step by step process of brewing with computer imagery. Then a huge exhibit of the cargo ships that Guiness owned/owns. these models are impressive. And a "tickler that tells you up to the second how many pints of Guiness are being served around the world.Pretty interesting.
Up on the second floor is every advertising gimic Guiness has put in print or in merchandising, including the famous Toucan. There are TV ads on the video screens. This wouldn't have interested me before, but when we were in Westport, Guiness was filming a commercial. Somehow, Gary had a copy of that days filming directions (which now is a good souvineer for us).
The third floor is the drinking quiz. I consider this exhibit is either "you've had a DUI, or how much can you drink before you fall over in a stupor". It's actually a good exhibit, since the idea of drinking is not to drink in access.
Fourth floor is the story of the building we are in. How it was designed and built from construction to reconstruction. Really good old photographs here. Floor five is the Source Bar where you can try out different types of Guinness. What more than one kind of Guiness you say...no way - BUT the original is GUINNESS® Draught:
GUINNESS Extra Stout: is a bottle of GUINNESS® stout, which was launched in 1821. Richer complex beer full of character, which is strong tasting with a distinctive roasted bitterness.
GUINNESS Foreign Extra Stout: Available inn Asia Africa and Caribbean countries. This GUINNESS beer is brewed with extra hops, which gives it a distinctive character and a deep rich distinctive taste. So I did learn that there is more than one type of Guiness.
The "Brewery Bar" is a small eating area. What's in the food? Guinness of course. Well, we made it thru, and I can honestly say I enjoyed it!
Now it's the last stop which is the Gravity Bar. I will say this has the BEST view in all of Dublin. When you step off the elevator, the views capture your attention. The room is round. On each of the windows is a written description of what you are viewing.
Now, it's up to the bar, which is lined with glasses filled with Guiness. The choice is a Coke or a Guinness. I'm not a beer drinker, but I'm here and I am going to bite the bullett and try one.
"I'd like a light Guinness please" I tell the bar tender. His reply is "we only have Guinness." Ok. I'm looking at the glasses of Guiness on the bar, and there are some lighter shades in the glasses. Can I have the lightest Guinness I ask again. The guy is shaking his head, and now the soccer team is getting closer and listening into our conversation. Then the bar tender points to the glasses and says "watch them'. So I do. And darn if they all don't turn from light brown to dark brown in the glasses.
"I'll take a Diet Coke." That just makes the day for the soccer team.
An Irish Step Dance competition is being held in Dublin this week, and an American group of Step Dancers are in town and up in the Gavity Bar. They are asked to perform by one of the bar tenders. Everyone stops talking and watches. A memory maker for all of us.
A little bit of "browsing' the stores and back to the hotel to freshen up and get ready for our farewell dinner at Taylors Three Rock. Then we're back on the bus with the group and a half hours drive later we arrive at the largest thatched roof in Ireland.
We're escorted in to a large dining room with long tables in front of the stage. Beer and wine are on the table, and food is starting to arrive. A group from Australia is in a row our left side, a "mixed" group is on the long table beside us and beside them, a group of very somber Belgiums.
The Plow Boys are on stage and running thru some Irish Rebel songs. I am in heaven. Except that those darn Aussies are getting into the mood more than our table is. The challenge is on. We have to out clap and out stomp them.
I send the message down our table. The food is being delivered, and I don't even remember ordering. Step dancers are now on stage, then the Plow Boys and some of the step dancers. The Aussies are still beating us in the noise factor.
This is humilating.
I'm eating desert and drinking more wine. And the Plow Boys are still playing. Well somehow, the time has wizzed by and it's the last song. AND I am up on my feet telling our group to form a congo line and go around the 4 tables. The Aussies are looking, so I take pity and pull a few into the line.
Then try to include the Belgiums, but they are now looking sterner than ever. We've weaved thru all the tables, and most of us are having one heck of a good time, so I ask the band for one more song so we can circle the room again. Now all the tables, except those balking Belguims are moving to the music.
After the "thank yous" from the band, everyone is getting ready to leave. I sidle up to the Bohdran player. I've always wanted to learn how to play the Bohdran, but never did. I ask him if he could show me quickly.
Zip and I have his Bohdran in my arms. He's showing me some quick techniques and how to use my hand. Oh my gosh this is going to be one of my best memories of Ireland. We're still talking and I still have his Bohdran. Then Eowen comes over to pull me away so he can get us back to the hotel. Darn. But it's a wonderful memory that will stay in my heart. It's late when we get back to the hotel.