Who in their right mind would go to Ireland in February? Unless of course you’re Irish or have to go there on a business trip. Well John had to go on a business trip so I tagged along. By the way, if you look on a globe, you’ll see that Dublin is as far north as both Sitka, Alaska or Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
But for 4 days, I’ll try anything.
The coolest thing I saw, and I will say that everything I saw was INSIDE, was the library at Trinity College. Trinity itself is a millennium old college in the middle of the City. It’s alright from the outside, but nothing like Oxford. But the library is magical. Straight out of Harry Potter, there are very old volumes packed floor to ceiling on two levels. You have climb wonderful ladders to reach the upper books and there’s even a (sort of) secret passage from room to room on the upper floor since there wasn’t enough room to build a path. No pictures allowed, but click here for a Google pic. Also at Trinity College, the very famous Book of Kells has an amazing story behind it – how it was written by several hands in the cold & damp abbey and then thrown to languish in a creek until found later.
What I liked best about my entire visit to Dublin was the history of the region, including all the tribal issues going back 1,000 years. We visited the National Gallery of Ireland on Clare Street and learned about Irish history just by reading the descriptions of the paintings. The anger of the Irish against oppressors goes WAY back.
I’d also go to the Little Museum of Dublin which is right on St Stephen’s Green and is a new and passionately inspired history of the development of Dublin over the last couple of centuries. This is all part of showing you the tremendous pride the Irish have in their history.
And of course, Guinness Storehouse, the home of the famous beer. While there was no line to get into the Book of Kells, there was a (short) line to get in here, and at 1.5 x the cost of Trinity College as well! I went to the Olympia brewery in Tacoma, Washington when I was 19 and this wasn’t any more interesting but it sure was slicker. They must have hired Disneyland’s designers to do up this place. Must admit that the restaurant there was very good (and very authentic – which means ‘interesting’ to an American) and the tasting room on the top floor with a 360 degree view of Dublin was the highlight. It was just a scene with everybody trying to get their glass of Guinness (included in the E.16.50 admission). But once served, it was enjoyable to hang out in this modern and comfortable place and enjoy the view. And did you know that the women who pour the beer create a shamrock in the foam of every glass – all done straight from the tap. Amazing. I got a great shot of that.
Hotels and Restaurants
I should at least mention a hotel, don’t you think? The Merrion. Even saw Danny DeVito there. Right downtown, nearby everything, the owners took several Georgian townhomes, joined them together and created a classic, low-key, perfectly wonderful and very local lodging. The peat burning in 3 (I think) fireplaces, 365 days a year only adds to the charm. The rooms and suites will make you feel very special. I strongly suggest the Jr Suites on the First Floor with the fabulously high ceilings. And of course you have to book with Josh Friedman Luxury Travel so you can get a few complimentary perks and a VIP introduction.
In other hotel notes, the nearby Shelbourne (an old hotel right on the Green) has a hopping bar scene and for the American business traveler who prefers modern the Conrad is a good choice, all in the same general area.
All trip photos are here.