Dublin: Irish History and Guinness
Hello friends, I’m finally here. I’m in Ireland. This country is my family’s homeland. My heritage is from county Cork. Today I’ll be going to countryside, to see the rolling green hills.
But before i tell you that, let me tell you my Dublin experience, eh? We arrived by ferry to Dublin’s port. The ferry was the nicest ship I’ve ever been on, it was almost like a floating hotel. I was expecting the same kind of ferry as my Japan experience, except without the tatami mats of course. We found a quiet area that had a good window. I went outside the deck and enjoyed the sea breeze (it was actually very windy, so it wasn’t romantic or anything. My hair was everywhere). After enjoying the wind, I found a chair and got lost in my book Good Omens.
We arrived by early evening and got a ride to our little Irish house/apartment off the Irish Sea. It is the perfect size and when I walk out the door, I see the Irish sea. It’s in a suburb of Dublin called Sandy Mount, a quaint town with everything you need. I didn’t explore too much my first day. We went to the town square and got beer (a Guinness) and then got dinner. I was quite tired after the train ride and ferry ride, so I walked back to the house looking to the Irish Sea the whole time. Such a pretty walk.
The next day, we woke up early and I made breakfast. I made egg and cheese sandwiches. My father and brother were impressed with my egg making skills. We made plans to visit the city that day. We caught the bus to the city centre and then walked towards Trinity College. The college started in 1592 and is the oldest university in Ireland. The Trinity library houses over 4 million substantial books and historical manuscripts, the most important of them: The Book of Kells. Have you heard of this book? It has a very interesting story, I’ll summarize.
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of the Gospel. Illuminated meaning the books is full of colorful and beautiful drawings and Celtic patterns. It was made by Celtic monks slightly before the year 800. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and is now Ireland’s most important national treasure. The book was first made on an island called Iona, but Vikings were a common threat. The monks had to flee Iona due to Viking raids and some came to the Abbey of Kells, which is how it got its name. Many hundreds of years past and monks would work on this book and protect it. Due to luck, the monks escaped most of the Vikings raids and finally got the book to a safe place, Trinity College, which is where it has stayed since. Fascinating story, right? If you want learn more, look it up or better yet, watch the movie The Secret of Kells. It is a beautifully made animated movie about the monks story. I believe it won a film award.
Well, I saw the Book of Kells and the oldest Eire harp in Ireland (that harp is the symbol of Ireland). I walked through the library too and what a sight it was. Take a look!
After the library, we took a bus to the Kilmainham prison (Gaol). It was built in 1796 and was known for poor living conditions. Many people were publicly hanged outside the front door for entertainment. Also, this is a famous prison because this is where many revolutionaries were held. They were imprisoned for treason because they wanted to make Ireland a republic. For a long time, England ruled Ireland. It wasn’t until the early 1900s when a group of revolutionaries, who started the term Republicans, wanted to change that.This was called the Easter Rebellion (1916) and the Republicans brought the Irish people together to fight for their land. There were a couple revolutions that resulted in many deaths, each ending with the Republican leaders being shot and killed in Kilmainham Gaol. This only fueled the fires. Within 3 years, the Republican party grew in strength and by 1919, they passed legislation to make Ireland its own Republic. It was a very bloody matter, shortly after the formation of the republic, a civil war occurred between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The history is brutal, I’d recommend looking into it if you are curious.
I enjoyed the prison tour, it was very informative and we got to see a lot of it. I also didn’t know too much about my Irish history, so this tour has inspired me to read more about it.
The next day, Dad made breakfast and then we went into the city again. This time, we walked Grafton St and took a picture with Molly Malone. She was a prostitute and sold shellfish, there is a famous song about her. I also found a quaint museum called The Vanishing Irish. It was about simple Irish folk over the age of 90. Each picture had a quote attached to it, here’s my favorite one.
After, Jamie and I caught the bus to the Guinness Brewery. I was surprised how extravagant it was. They definitely appeal to the tourist. There was a tasting room, where we could smell the vapors of each ingredient (barley, alcohol ethers, hops, and malt). We learned how to properly drink a Guinness during that time too.
1. Sit/stand straight
2. Arm is 90 degree to your body.
3. Breath in
4. Kiss glass
5. Take a sip and gulp
6. Breath out.
After, we poured our own glass and got a certificate for our exceptional pouring skills. Then, Jamie and I relaxed and enjoyed our pint. Overall, a pleasant experience.
I woke up early the next morning to finish Good Omens, which is such a good book. After breakfast, I had a nice long talk with my twin sister. She’s about to go hiking for 8-10 days in the Chinese countryside. Then, I jumped on the local train (the DART) and went as far as it would take me. I ended up in a fishing town called Howth. Luckily the weather was nice, so I walked around the town, down the harbor, and then I found a hiking trail that lead me to Howth Summit. I walked along the sea cliffs for a majority of it. The sea breeze felt so nice and I had some stunning views. Before I caught my train, there was a performer playing the saxophone. He was so good! I listened for a while, gave him a tip, and caught the train back to Dublin. On the train, I listened to the people around me; I will miss the Irish accents. They are definitely my favorite.
Today, Jamie cooked breakfast and then Dad, Jamie, and I walked the Liffy River (the river that divides Dublin). James Joyce is a famous Irish novelist, he wrote Ulysses. In the novel he mentions The Liffy as a woman. Ever since then, the locals recognize the river as a lady. We walked down to Hueston Station, which is where I’d catch my train to the countryside. I said goodbye to the boys and asked the information desk where would be a good place to go that is not too far. They told me Kildare, so I bought a ticket and jumped on the train.
I watched the Irish countryside pass by; there was lots of green. I arrived at Kildare and saw a cathedral. I walked towards it and went inside. It was very quaint. There was information inside about the famous Protestant bishops who had worshipped there. One was Saint Bridget, she was sanctioned as a bishop through the work of god. At least that’s what the informational packets told me. I didn’t realize they let women be bishops. There was also a tower in the churchyard that was once used as a bell tower. The gatekeeper told me the tower is original, it’s from the 9-10th century. The monks would ring the bell to signal the other monks to come back to the cathedral or when Vikings were coming. To escape from the Vikings, the monks would climb up to the door with all the church’s valuables and then they would roll up the rope ladder. The door is 5 meters off the ground, so the Vikings couldn’t reach. The coolest part? I got to climb the tower! The ladders were rickety and the holes were very small; it was quite the endeavor. I spent a lot of time up there, looking out to the countryside. The breeze felt nice and the views were great. What a cool experience.
I explored more of the town and walked out to the countryside. The weather stayed clear and I walked through the green landscape. What a great way to finish my Ireland experience and my trip.
Now I’m heading back to Dublin to get dinner and to pack my bags. Wow. I’m going home.