May 28th - Dublin

Second Day in Dublin

by Emily Larson

After a night of fun at the historic Brazen Head Pub, the day ahead looked long. A good four-course (fruit/juice, cereal, egg plate w/sausage AND bacon, varieties of toast) Irish breakfast was a fine start to a day of exploration. The light rain had stopped and the day looked as if it was going to be perfect.

We walked two blocks to visit the General Post Office. In Easter of 1916 the Irish rebelling against British domination took over the building and held it until the British army surrounded the building with troops and artillery and pounded it until it was all ablaze.

The General Post Office on O'Connell Street has been restored and is today still used as Dublin's central postal facility.

Inside the Post Office we saw the statue of the mythological Irish hero Cuchulain, dedicated to the memory of the fighters of 1916. The statue shows an ancient warrior, the Hercules of Ireland, who tied himself to a pillar stone after he was mortally wounded so that his forces could still be inspired by his courage and fight on. Only when a raven perched on his shoulder did his enemies know he was dead.

Our next stop was the walled city campus of Trinity College. Certainly the country's most respected school, it also is known for its Old Library, which houses the famous Book of Kells. This is an illuminated manuscript, a book of the four gospels of the life of Christ. Written in Latin and richly illustrated with paintings of intricate design detail, the Book of Kells dates from the early 9th Century. One interesting point that I learned was that because there are some textual errors in the book, it was evidently not intended to be read from the pulpit but was instead used as "altar furnishings" for special occasions.

The "Long Room" on the second floor of the Old Library holds more than 200,000 old and rare books, the largest collection of manuscripts and printed works in Ireland. The Long Room is two stories tall and nearly 65 meters in length. It is all dark wood, with an arched ceiling and the musty smell of old books filling the air. On either side of the room there is a procession of marble busts of historical figures such as Socrates, Cicero, Locke, Boyle, Swift, and Burke.

Trinity College students and visitors were bustling around its central quadrangle, made entirely of blue-gray cobblestone with bright green grassy areas. We made a QuickTime Virtual Reality movie of the scene (216 K). Try to find the Bradley students!

We left the campus and walked through the treacherous traffic of tourist buses until we arrived as the National Museum. Howard led us through specific museum exhibits giving us a taste of Irish culture from the Stone Age through the modern era. We saw a replica of a late Bronze Age passage tomb, used to bury and honor the dead. I was impressed by a 40-foot long dugout canoe, unearthed from a bog after being buried for a thousand years. We examined gold torcs and lunula jewelry from the Bronze Age, and even a mummy of a prehistoric man who may have been ritually murdered and left in a bog.

Before leaving our "classwork" for the day, the group posed with a statue in front of the National Museum of Ireland.
After a very full morning of discovery, Howard was kind enough to give us the rest of the day off, our last free day until we're back in London. He then stayed in the museum to work on his research while "the group" walked all around the streets of Dublin, meeting all kinds of people and taking photographs.

Musicians and street performers of all types were out entertaining the crowds along the Dublin streets.

We then went into St. Steven's Green, a beautiful park filled with trees, people, benches, AND a rooster, who was there digging through the flower beds.

St. Steven's Green, once a private hunting estate, is now a refuge of peace and tranquility with its ponds and walkways.

Getting hungry, we walked down Grafton Street, the main shopping area. After a while we stopped for a bite to eat at Judge Roy Beans. The food was great, and we were tempted to wash it down with a pint of Guinness.

After I spoke with the bartender and asked to take his picture, he not only obliged me, but then went on to pour me a free pint of Guinness!

It was getting late, and we were getting tired. We ended up making a wrong turn when walking back to the guesthouse, so it took us longer than we expected. Tonight will be a relaxing night, as we must be well-rested for the start of our expedition tomorrow. Half of us will sit and relax at the hotel bar down the street where a traditional Irish group is performing, while the other half is attending a play by Brian Friel ("Freedom of the City") at the nearby Abbey Theatre, established by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904. I hope our families, friends, and other web-viewers are enjoying following us through our trip as much as we are experiencing it!

(Editor's note: Thank you to Ed Lamoureux and Paul Carpenter at Bradley University for their assistance in getting our web server back on line following the power outage yesterday which delayed our first day's posting.)