The itinerary, driven by A’s interest in Ireland: the Book of Kells, Irish trad music, cliff walks, castle tours, bookstores.
The grand Trinity College library.
The Book of Kells is just astonishing in its vibrancy of colors and intricacy of detail. I think A’s introduction to the manuscript must have been the movie The Secret of Kells, which is one of our kids’ all-time favorites.
Circa 800, the folio page that opens the Gospel of John
A page from the Gospel of John. Hand-writing (in this case, Insular majuscule) as integral to art really appeals to me. The Book of Kells is such a masterpiece not only because of its age (c 800 CE) but because Viking raids at this point disrupted the monasterial labors, and thereafter no comparably ornate manuscripts were produced.
Hearty pub fare at O’Neill’s and grocery-store lunches in the hostel.
One of the reasons I like staying in hostels is rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with people from all over, and usually people who are pretty friendly or interesting. It’s not what I would call a relaxing way to travel, but it is one of the ways to intensify one’s experiences in a different city. In this case, our hostel was a converted school, with soaring ceilings and massive windows. The night of England’s success in the World Cup quarter-final, the hostel and the streets outside took until the wee hours of morning to quiet down. Earlier in the day B had asked an Irish woman who she was rooting for, Sweden or England, and she brought one corner of her mouth up toward her squinted eye, saying, “Well, they both invaded us, didn’t they?”
“Let us go forth, the teller of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.” (Yeats, The Celtic Twilight)
A traditional Irish musical evening was delightful! Starting out in the Ha’ Penny Bridge Inn:
We had dinner at long tables; we happened to be seated next to a family from the Netherlands and I love the way the paterfamilias is keeping time with his hand. Here’s Eamonn, Paddy, and Erin:
Dublin Castle, which houses mainly government offices.
The River Liffey and the Ha’Penny Bridge.
The picturesque fishing village of Howth is a half-hour train ride north of Dublin. Its cliff walk is just stunning!
A. set out on every side spur of the trail, exploring higher vantage points and coming back with his legs covered with stinging nettle lashes. They didn’t really slow him down.
The seaside city of Dalkey is a half-hour train ride from Dublin’s city center, this time to the south. In the process of the castle tour, we learned about some of the literary luminaries who have called Dalkey home: James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Maeve Binchy, George Bernard Shaw.
Dalkey Castle (more properly, a fortified town house from the 14th century) is fun in large part because of the dressed-up re-enactors who expound on the castle and St. Begnet’s Church (10th century).
One of my very favorite poets, Eavan Boland, was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity. This is the end of her poem “The Oral Tradition”.
I had distances
ahead of me: iron miles
in trains, iron rails
and reasons; the wheels
singing innuendoes, hints,
the surface, a sense
suddenly of truth,