Tuesday, December 12, 2006


This past weekend, I made a short hop, skip, and jump on over to the isle of the leprechauns. While I didn't see any of the wee folk, I did get to see and experience some neat stuff. First, I took a tour around the city on a bus which had commentary on Irish history and the various sites. I've done a tour such as this twice and found it to provide a good broad feel for the city. It helps in getting the lay of the land and figuring out where things are prior to doing some detailed investigation on foot.

Before researching the trip, I didn't realize that Ireland has only been an autonomous country since 1921 when it ratified the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Previously, it was a part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland which is still on the same island as the Republic of Ireland chose to remain a part of the UK and as such is a separate country.

After the bus tour, I took a brief tour at the Guinness factory. This is similar to the World of Coke museum in Atlanta. Interestingly, the Guinness family has given away lots of money to help maintain or build churches. I then went and checked out Dublin castle. There are lots of government offices located here so it is not quite as castlesque as one might anticipate. The Chester Beatty library is located adjacent to the castle and has a plethora of old books and manuscripts.

It was then on to check out St. Patrick's cathedral. The cathedral is allegedly built on the site of St. Patrick's original church building when he came to Ireland in the 5th century A.D. I also went to Christ Church Cathedral and actually attended a singing service. The acoustics were quite nice even with a small choir.

On Saturday evening, I went on a musical pub crawl which was one of the highlights of my trip. A couple professional musicians (fiddler/percussionist and guitarist) gave a nice synopsis of traditional Irish music as well as humor and various bits of Irish trivia. They played a bunch of Irish folk songs and taught us a few which we sang along with. Towards the end of the evening, they issued what is known as the "local call" during which the audience members are requested to share a song from their home country. Not one to shy away, I volunteered and played a rendition of "Sweet Home Alabama." Playing in an actual Irish pub was a very cool experience.

I also got to see the "Book of Kells" which were a couple of ancient manuscripts of the Bible in Latin written in the 8th century. The pages were decorated with ornate illustrations. The exhibit had other old manuscripts as well. Apparently, many times they used cow hide as a parchment.

Another museum that I checked out was a Viking exhibit. The Vikings invaded and lived in Dublin back in the early part of the 2nd millennium. They were known as Danes when not on warring raids and Vikings when conducting activities of battle. A misconception is that they did not wear the horned helmets which people commonly associate with them but rather a leather helmet. The food in the couple pubs I ate in was quite tasty as well. I had beef pie for one meal, salmon for another and lots of potatoes. Yum! Someday, I'd like to go back and check out the countryside which is supposed to be very beautiful.

Unfortunately, I left the battery to my camera sitting in the charger in my flat in London. I did, however, get a disposable camera and will at some point upload pictures after getting them developed and scanned.

1 comment:

liz said...

woah, singing for your new Irish friends. you go, boy!

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