Book of Kells, Christ Church and more meandering

This is post #2 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2019

Dave had sourced out lots of places to eat in Dublin before coming.  So that first morning we walked along Fleet Street to find breakfast at the Queen of Tarts.  Along the way, we photographed the famous Temple Bar.  I guess if you are a drinker, you would like to come here, but since we aren’t drinkers, I thought it was just a lovely place with all the flowers.


Scone, juice and a streusel muffin

Then on to visit Christ Church.  They are renovating an area outside the church and I loved all the bold design fences.

Interesting comment on Christ as a homeless person.

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Coming inside, I know understood why the fences outside had such bold designs: they were taken from the floor’s tile designs.

Back outside, we kept checking the sky, wondering if we were going to be rained on, but the clouds cleared and we kept going.

The cathedral is on the right, Synod House is on the left, joined by a bridge.

We walked all the way down from Christ Church to St. Patrick’s and realized we’d left the tickets for the Book of Kells back in the room, so we re-traced our steps back along Fleet Street, back to our hotel.

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The other side of Temple Bar, plus another notable pub, below.  Lively Irish music was always pouring out of this yellow pub from early afternoon into the night.

Back at the room, I held my camera below the open window to get this shot of the The Spire of Dublin (aka Millenium Spire).




This is typical of how our screenshots from Google Maps Offline looked like: we’d chart our course while in wifi, then head out, tracking ourselves as we went.  Seriously, offline maps are like magic.  We couldn’t make sense of the public transit, and unlike other cities, it seemed to be reserved only for the locals.  So we walked everywhere, and kept our destinations local.


Entering Trinity College, you feel history waft over you, as everything has so many years behind it.  It’s either that, or you feel like you’re channeling Harry Potter, or something.


I’d watched The Secret of Kells twice before coming, forcing Dave to join me once (he fell asleep), but I was glad I’d done that for it helped me to make sense of the chaos that the Book of Kells exhibit felt like.

img_6471It felt like we were all moooooved into one room like cattle (and they’d run out of English pamphlets, with the girl telling me — not so helpfully, but in a lovely Irish lilt — “everything’s printed on the displays”).  There were large displays with pictures of The Book, but it was hard to see/read with all the people.  We stepped up into another room with a crush around one low table.  It displayed several manuscripts, one of them the Book of Kells.  They display a random page, so you never know what you’ll see, but I was hoping to see the Chi-Ro page:


“Chi and Rho are two letters of the Greek alphabet, the first two letters of “Christ”. Chi gives a hard Ch sound. Rho is an R. Chi is written as an X. Rho is roughly a P. In this illumination the Chi is the dominant form, an X with uneven arms, somewhat resembling a pair of curvaceous pliers. The Rho stands in its shelter, with its loop turned into a spiral. There is also an Iota, an I, the third letter, passing up through this spiral. All three letters are abundantly decorated, their curves drawn out into flourishes, embellished with discs and spirals, filled with dense tracery and punctuated with occasional animals and angels.”  (from here)


After that insanity, we climbed the stairs to head into the Long Room of the Old Library, along with the rest of the herd.  Shades of Wizarding!  There were two rows of alcoves along the main center aisle, and on top of that, another series of alcoves.  This room, built between 1712 and 1732, was expanded to two stories in 1860.


The ties of twill around the books are like bandages for the books, as they need to be repaired.img_6462img_6451img_6468img_6463

At the front of each “stall” (their word) or shelf of books was a bust of a famous person, 100% male, with the exception of one stack, which displayed this harp, above, which apparently is the model for All Things Harpish, and is one of the three oldest surviving Gaelic harps (c. 15th century).  But the statues everywhere (and not just in the library) are all men.  This male thing was getting a little overwhelming in Ireland — seems the only woman around is the Molly Malone statue, and she’s fictional.


So I asked the attendant why there were no women anywhere.

img_6461“There is one,” he said, and pointed to Mary Pollard’s name.
“But where is her bust?” I asked, gesturing to all the marble heads in the room.
“It took us 200 years to get that,” he said, pointing the name.  “The other is coming.”

I had to look her up.  Seems she was the former Keeper of the Books at Trinity College.  The Trinity College Website notes that  “The Pollard Collection – a bequest of Mary “Paul” Pollard, former Keeper of Early Printed Books – is the largest collection of children’s books in Ireland. Items date from the 17th century to the early 20th century with a special focus on Irish imprints, Irish writers, and books written for girls.”

We are shunted down in the (what else?) gift shop, but that’s a crush, too.  After trying to work our way around the merchandise, maybe the crowds have cleared out, we say, and we loop back around again to the beginning and things are much better.  We are able to read all the placards, and actually see the Book of Kells page.  The old library upstairs was largely cleared out, so we had more of a chance to see it, too.

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I asked the attendant how the people moved between the stack upstairs.  He pointed out the door in each bookcase, close to the wall, where it was hard to see.  And, he said, those doors are eight feet tall, even though from down here they look small.


Of course, I had Dave pose by the The Berkeley Library, named for that Irish philosopher, considering that Berkeley in California was his alma mater ( and that city was also named after this Berkeley).


Henry Moore: “Reclining Connected Forms”


Back out into town and walking around that day, we saw more hats on sculptures: the Four Angels Fountain received head pieces too.  After I looked at a complete listing of Dublin’s public art, it looks like there are more women statues than previously thought.img_6500

Molly Malone received a hat with fringe and a lace veil flowing down the back.


Lunch was at Sprouts, with dessert by Laduree, picked up minutes before and smuggled downstairs to enjoy with our bowl of food.img_6505


It was after our lunch at Sprouts, serving healthy-ish food, that we began to notice other one-word, one-syllable shops: Rocks, Fields, Cloth, Chopped, Card, Boots, Toast.



But this was our favorite: FADE, a store for tattoo removal.


We thought we’d like to see the Castle, but ended up at the Chester Beatty Library instead (on the grounds of the Castle).  Dave was fascinated by all that was there. Me?  Not so much, so I retired to the leather bench outside the exhibit, logged into their free wifi and did incredibly shallow stuff like posting on Instagram.  I plead jetlag.


I did like the cards in the gift shop, though.

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We walked back through town, heading to dinner at The Pig’s Ear, a recommended restaurant (we’d made reservations earlier, before leaving home.


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The dining room, on the second floor, faced Trinity College, but from our perch in the corner of the room, we could only see bits of the greenery.  The whole experience was lovely, beginning with the sense of forest or woods or earthiness in the decor of woods and soft greens (except for the women’s bathroom, which was a perfect shade of pink–pig pink?)

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(Definitely going to think about repainting our bathroom when I get home.)


We sat by an unused set of stairs, decorated with pigs and a gun-toting rabbit.

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I snapped a photo of the menu outside, before heading up. We each did a two-person menu, splitting the Starter and the Dessert.  Of course, we were upsold with the side of vegetables.DinnerPigsEar_2a.jpg

First, the bread was brought out in a leather basket, the wooden disk holding a round of slightly salty butter, with a wooden blade.


The Starter of the salmon was a work of art.


We loved everything, but the dessert was the perfect finisher:


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We headed for one more walk along the Ha’Penny Bridge, passing by this building.

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The gulls here have cries that will wake tired tourists; click here for video.

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We lingered long enough for the lights to come on.

HaPenny Bridge_3.jpgWhy go home? We can’t sleep.  In fact, I’ll close this post with a photo of the ceiling taken in the middle of the night, by my unsleeping husband.

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It was a struggle, every night: too hot, too noisy, terrible pillows.  So we start chipping away at the conditions.  We received decent pillows on day 3 of our stay.  We started closing the windows (yes, they are double-paned — they obviously were aware of the noise problem) and turning on the fan, inevitably sweltering hot by about 3 a.m.

Maybe we’ll sleep in Berlin, we say.  Who knows?AsktheRiver.jpg

We’ll ask the river (sign courtesy of the Fringe Festival).





Meeting Dublin

This is post #1 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

We left Los Angeles Tuesday evening, on Aer Lingus, an untested airline.  Now having flown them internationally and locally, go for international.  They make you pay for water locally (pet peeve of mine).  This was taken Wednesday, before we arrived in Dublin.


I asked if everyone spoke Irish.  Nope.  But the law mandates dual language signs.  Actually it’s probably a pretty good thing, to try and keep the language from disappearing.


We clear customs, get our luggage, and made our way onto the airport bus, that was the meandering version.  It took us past the harp-shaped Samuel Beckett bridge, one I didn’t see again.


After the bus left us off, we walked down O’Connell Street, snapping photos.  Dublin is pretty enamored of their donuts, but they are more like cream-filled donuts than regular ones.  By the end of our stay, I was pretty enamored of their donuts, too.

The William Smith O’Brien statue was wearing a hat, as were some others.  Later I found out it was part of Dublin’s Fringe Festival, a combination of plays, performances, art pieces, and some hi-jinks — like hats.

The River Liffey.  We really had great weather while we were there–only a few rainstorms.  My first impressions of Dublin are of a smaller town with lots of energy, a long flat river bisecting it east-west, lots of statues, lots of donuts, and lots of tourists.  Oh, and it is very very green.

We had lists of things to see, from friends and neighbors and even our son Chad, who had come here last year with his family.  One place I wanted to see was the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial with a reflecting pool in the shape of a cross and a beautiful statue of children being changed into swans.

The Dublin Post Office was on the way, and I often buy one beautiful stamp from a country as a souvenir.  This time I purchased postcard stamps as well.  What a beautiful building!  I imagine the other ones aren’t like this, but I did have severe Post Office Envy.

I loved the hexagonal stamps they sold, but left them there.  We are at the stage where we only buy things that we think we’ll enjoy in our lifetime (as the children will throw out the bulk of our possessions, we’re sure!).  I could see framing them, but then what?  I just enjoyed them there.

The Millenium Tower, aka The Spire, is right on O’Connell street, serving as a landmark for us as we scooted around.  It was finished in 2002 (two years late), and apparently some hate it and some love it.  It is kind of cool looking.


Still on the trail to the Garden, we heard chanting, like an enthusiastic call-and-response, and we realized we had happened on the Labor Rally for that afternoon, perhaps to get them fired up for the talk (below):

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Looks like Jim Larkin’s spirit still persists.

We arrived about 5:43 and the gatesman said he was closing soon.  “6:00 p.m.” I asked.  “In five minutes,” he said. So I raced down into the garden, up to to the statue and then back again, all in five minutes.


The statue of the Children of Lir, a tale from Irish mythology.  It’s complicated, but love, suffering, and revenge are at the heart of it.

According to Wikipedia, “In Celtic custom, on concluding a battle, the weapons were broken and cast in the river, to signify the end of hostilities.”  The broken weapons are in several places in the reflecting pool.

We look pretty good for being so jetlagged.  Little did we know that we would never have a good nights’ sleep in our hotel.  More on that later.

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All the buildings are so different from our town, we found ourselves snapping photos left and right.

Now it’s time for our traveling ritual: Hunt For Food.  These days we have guidebooks, internet, Yelp and Google to help us find our way.

Fabric Store!  Fun to see that night, but of course it was closed.  And of course, I never got back to it.  That also is a ritual of traveling–seeing things, and never getting back to them.

We had downloaded Google Maps Offline, which keeps us oriented even when we don’t have Wi-Fi.  That kept us on target to cross the Ha-Penny Bridge, so named for the original toll, keeping Us on one side, and Them on the other side because of the steep (at the time) toll to be paid.  Now it’s just a charming and well-used bridge over the Liffey.

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Dave on the Ha’Penny Bridge • Dublin, Ireland

Fun stores and buildings on the way to dinner.  We also saw the first of many many many buskers (or street musicians–the term can vary) (click the link to see a white Irish Rapper).

We were headed for Fallon and Byrne, where we heard they had good food.  We opted for the restaurant in the Cellar, where we had a really great meal, though unexpected in their offerings.


I had the Irish Chicken atop Sweet Potato (what we call a “yam” in this area of the world).

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Dave had the Beetroot, Avocado and Tofu Fritter, but it was like all of that mixed into a sort of “patty” that rested on a ciabatta bun.  Tasty, it was!

Twisting and turning, we made our way to the Molly Malone statue, a tourist tradition.  Home, and then experience the wonder that is a hotel room in the Temple Bar area of Dublin: no quiet anywhere.  In fact, even given the jetlag, we saw more awake time because of all the action, than we did sleeping time.  No whining while traveling, right?  Yes, but it’s difficult.  They do like to party All.Night.Long.