Tuesday, April 18

This morning our Irish breakfast was prepared by Colette’s sister, Dorothy, and another woman.  The dining room is a cozy little area located downstairs.  Today Nancy and I were not the only guests.  We were joined by Jo, a student at Trinity College, who was busily studying for her exams.  By the end of the week we got to know her pretty well.  As we were finishing breakfast, the two ladies came in from their posts in the kitchen.  We talked about the recent killings of the white farmers in Zimbabwe, the increasing number of immigrants coming to Ireland, and the state of the European Union.  Apparently these women keep up with the news pretty closely, which showed in the well-formed opinions they expressed.

It was a bright sunny day with blue skies, but still very cool.  As it turned out, we didn’t see a drop of rain all day.  Nancy and I hiked to the city center at a much more relaxed pace than the day before.  We were finally starting to get our bearings straight in our end of town.  Neither of us ever got used to the dangerous street crossings.  It felt like open season on pedestrians at almost every corner.

We began our day by stopping off at the Tourism Centre to purchase three tickets for tomorrow’s tour to Galway and the Connemara region.  Then we sat down on the benches and plotted out an ambitious walking tour that went from nearby City Hall to distant Kilmainham Gaol with several stops in between.  Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that the tourist map we were using was not exactly to scale.  Our inability to locate City Hall without several aimless trips up and down the main street was probably a bad sign of things to come.

Our first stop was Dublin Castle.  Still in use by the Irish government, our guide led us through many of the lavish rooms on the bottom and top floors.  She was young, smart, and managed to work in her fair share of good-natured comments on women’s rights in Ireland.  It seemed strange to be in the same room where world leaders like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Helmut Kohl sat around the conference table presumably doing some serious negotiation.  The Irish president is still inaugurated in the large hall on the bottom floor.  Must be a sight to see.

A little farther down Lord Edward Street (or was it High Street?  The streets seem to change names every few blocks in Dublin) we stopped at Christchurch Cathedral.  The church dates from the 12th century, when it was rebuilt following the Norman invasion.  While we were inside, the deep, mellow sounds of a huge organ being tuned echoed eerily through the cathedral.

Across the street from Christchurch was Dublinia Museum, which proved to be well worth the visit.  We wound our way through the displays of medieval Dublin with a self-guided audio tour.  A large model of Dublin circa 1500 was the most interesting display.  It showed the city wall with Dublin Castle in one corner and Christchurch in the center of town.  Having been to these places earlier that morning, Dublin’s distant past easily came alive for us.  There were also several chilling displays on the spread of the Black Death in Europe.  We finished off our visit to Dublinia by climbing the 96 steps to the observation tower.  At times like that a full backpack really begins to feel heavy.  We were both a little winded from the rapid climb, but enjoyed an excellent view of the city in all four directions from the top of the tower.

By then it was time for lunch.  We ate a hearty meal at the Castle Inn across the street.  Nancy had a huge platter of cottage pie and I had roasted chicken.  Both of our meals had the obligatory potatoes, which were smothered in other vegetables, particulary carrots.  A real deal for under six pounds a person.  Then we were ready to hit the streets once more.
A walk of indeterminable length to our last stop, Kilmainham Gaol (jail), lay before us.  As we passed by Allie’s first living quarters in Dublin, the Brewery Hostel, and then the vast Guinness complex, we began to suspect that our user-friendly tourist map was not entirely accurate as far as distances were concerned.  When the main road split into two narrow forks, we apparently took the wrong one and ended up at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, where our bus tour stopped briefly on Monday.  Several kind persons provided us with accurate directions to the jail.  Hope we didn’t look as tired as our feet felt.

We arrived at the jail around 3:30, early enough to see everything before the 5:00 closing time.  A guide led us down to the main block and its multitude of solitary cells.  It was a truly sobering sight.  As we ducked into one of the cells, you could easily imagine the damp, cold conditions that the prisoners had to endure in isolation.  Many of those who occupied the cells were political prisoners.  Others were simply poor people in search of a free meal during the height of the famine (we were constantly reminded of the human suffering caused by the potato famine of the 1840's by our various tour guides).  Even Clint Eastwood would have a hard time escaping from this mammoth fortress.

By the end of the jail tour our feet and legs were shot.  We decided to forego the long walk back into town in favor of the city bus.  This was our first ride on Irish public transportation.  Naturally we were unsure of the fare, when to pay, and where to get off.  In short, we were just a couple of dumb tourists.  We managed to merge in with a large group of Italian high school students (Ireland is the place a lot of European kids go to in order to study English) and their Irish instructor.  Somehow we succeeded in getting off at the right stop.

Before meeting Allie at the Tourism Centre, we checked into the possibility of joining up with the musical pub crawl that evening.  We had to go to the musicians themselves to get the straight dope.  Turns out a crawl was scheduled for that evening at 7:00, but we decided that we needed to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed (not hung over), when we got up at 5:30 the next morning for our train/bus tour to the western part of the country.

So instead of pub crawling, the three of us went to Gallagher’s Traditional Irish Restaurant for dinner.  It was a great choice.  Does this sound tasty or what? Black and white pudding, leek and cabbage soup, boxty meals, Revolution beer, and chocolate lovers delight.  Our red-headed Irish waiter deserved a generous tip and he got one.  We were pleasantly sated for another long walk home.

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map of Dublin City Center


Created by Nancy and Dave Badertscher
May 7, 2000