On Tuesday, March 13, we woke up to sunny skies and a busy day ahead of us. Note: Ireland is chilly (all the time!). Even in the summer, it doesn’t get past 67-68 degrees. Make sure you wear layers so that you can take them off/put them back on throughout the day. I always wore a long sleeve, fleece, and raincoat with jeans, leggings, boots and warm socks!
We made our way over to Trinity College (and stopped at Queen of Tarts for a couple of scones…Ian’s third scone of the trip!) to view the Book of Kells and the Trinity College Library. A few things: We purchased our tickets for the Book of Kells online, which made it easy to pass through. We also weren’t allowed to take photos inside the exhibit, but it was surreal and we definitely recommend it.
Now. To the Trinity College Library. The library itself is the largest library in Ireland. It began in 1592. In 1661, Henry James presented it with the Book of Kells, its most famous manuscript. The Long Room, a 213-foot chamber within the library was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. The room is also lined with marble busts of great philosophers, writers, and people who supported Trinity.
We both stood in awe in this room. I did three walk-throughs. One with my camera, the other two because I just couldn’t get enough of the place. As a couple of English nerds, we really enjoyed spending our time here. It was absolutely beautiful and a must-see if you are to visit Dublin.
We explored the campus a little bit and then walked to O’Connell Street. O’Connell Street is Dublin’s grandest street that starts from the O’Connell Bridge through north Dublin. You start at the Trinity side of town and make your way up, ending at the Garden of Remembrance, a park honoring the victims of the 1916 uprising. What’s cool about this street is that you can see some cool statues and monuments, like the Daniel O’Connell monument (for whom the street is named; he was known as the “Liberator” for demanding Irish Catholic rights in British Parliament). You can also see Abbey Theatre, where nationalists (like Yeats) staged plays, the General Post Office, and more. We really enjoyed the walk, especially taking a rest in the Garden of Remembrance: a peaceful spot to relax and stretch after a long walk.
We then turned around and made our way to Ha’Penny Bridge, named for the halfpence toll that people used to pay to cross it. We took the pedestrian-only bridge and made our way to Temple Bar Square where we enjoyed the sights.
After lunch, we walked over to Dublin Castle and bought tickets for a self-guided tour. Dublin Castle was the seat of Irish rule for over 700 years; it is located where the rivers Liffey and Poddle came together, making a black pool (dubh linn in Irish). Dublin Castle was home to the viceroy who implemented the will of the British royalty. It was our first time visiting a castle; we loved being able to spend our time in each room and enjoy the atmosphere and take in the history. The tour ended with a look at the foundations of the Norman tower and the remains of the 13th-century town wall. There was another option for a guided tour, which takes you inside the chapel and into some other rooms as well.
After the castle tour, we walked over to St. Stephen’s Green to check out the park and all of the cool monuments there. We learned that it used to be a place with gory public executions in medieval times. Now, it’s a grassy refuge for Dubliners. The three main monuments and statues I wanted to check out were the Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and the WB Yeats statue. I was a little disappointed in Joyce, but it was a great park and fun to see people relaxing on benches and taking in the greenery.
After our walk through St. Stephen’s, we walked through Grafton Street again to find some dinner—success! We had some delicious Italian food at Milano. We wanted to have dessert and some drinks (and it started to rain) so we came across a bar, Davy Byrnes, where we enjoyed an Irish coffee (and a few beers!) and watched the game (that’s Irish talk for soccer). Tired, we made our way back to our Airbnb and fell into our bed after a long, fun day in Dublin!