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).





1 thought on “Book of Kells, Christ Church and more meandering”

  1. So much wonderful art, from the statues (I love the homeless Jesus–nowhere to lay his head) to the floors. I REALLY like the library. I have a weakness for libraries.

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