For the next three days, we wandered round Dublin using the walking tours in our Lonely Planet guidebook as a basis. Day two was “Viking and Medieval Dublin”, though I didn’t spot a single reference to Vikings. Maybe I missed that bit. Anyway, the highlights, shown below (hover over the pictures for captions) were:
- Evidence that Dublin loves its libraries – as proudly shown on some of its lampposts.
- Dublin’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head. This building dates from 1668, but the pub has been on that site since 1198. It looked inviting, but we didn’t go in as it was only about 11:30 and we thought that would be decadent.
- St Audoen’s Church. We almost walked past this one, but it was well worth a visit. It’s one of the city’s oldest existing churches (1190) and has an interesting exhibition on medieval guilds.
- Christ Church Cathedral. Is it wrong to say the highlight here was the cat and the rat? One chased the other into an organ pipe in the 1850s where they became trapped and were mummified. In Finnegan’s Wake James Joyce describes someone as being “as stuck as that cat to that mouse in the tube of that Christchurch organ”.
- St Patrick’s Cathedral. Two cathedrals just round the corner from each other! Here, we loved the colourful memorial to the Boyle family (including Robert Boyle of Boyle’s Law fame. That’s one for the scientists.) The decoration of the choir stalls was interesting too.
- Marsh’s Library. Well, as our surname is Marsh we had to go there! Unfortunately, photography inside was not allowed, so follow the link to the website for pictures. The library was founded by St Patrick’s Archbishop Narcissus Marsh in 1701 and was the first public library in Ireland. The interior has remained largely unchanged since then, and it houses over 25000 rare books dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. We signed the visitors book with pride.
- Chester Beatty Library. Situated in the grounds of Dublin Castle (the view of the castle below was taken from its roof garden), the library houses the collections of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), a New York mining magnate who made Dublin his adopted home. His rare books and manuscripts come from all over the world and from 2700 BC to the present day. Egyptian papyrus texts, illuminated Korans and Bibles, the finest collection of Chinese jade books in the world – just amazing.
My feet were sore at the end of all that, but they revived in time for Day 3. To be continued…..