For a capital city, Dublin feels intimate.
But make no mistake about it, once you are out exploring after 11am in the city centre, the streets fill and the crowd continues to grow into the evening. This probably has to do with Dublin being home to the vibrant Temple Bar area, a part of the city known for its medieval streets and lively culture. According to locals, this surge of people is mostly tourists just like us.
We had a marvelous time exploring Dublin. We even considered taking in the Leprechaun Museum (we are known to visit off-beat museums: case and point – the Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska – yes, a museum of nothing but hammers), but after reading reviews and seeing the admission price of the Leprechaun Museum, we opted to instead take a walking tour of the city and splurge on a nice lunch.
One of our favorite stops in Dublin was the Trinity College Library: The Book of Kells exhibit and The Long Room.
Besides being a gorgeous campus, Trinity College is home to the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a Latin gospel created by Celtic Monks around 800A.D. But wait. It’s not just an old piece of gospel; it is a manuscript with detailed drawings and heavily decorated initials or lettering on calf velum. Good news – if you can’t travel to Dublin to see this amazing book in person, you can enjoy the manuscript for free via the Trinity College Digital Collection.
The day before visiting the exhibit we passed Trinity College on numerous occasions. The campus made us smile each time we passed, simply because the cobblestone walkways and prominent 18th Century buildings provided a sense of academia. However, we prepared ourselves for disappointment when visiting the college to view the Book of Kells, worried our expectations would surpass reality. On the day of viewing, we conquered pushy tourists eager to hog the glass box holding the Book of Kells. Upon our turn, we stood looking at the book – a dainty manuscript, but quite powerful and equally beautiful. Unfortunately, the ‘no photography’ rule prohibited our snapping pictures, but trust us – even though only two pages are displayed, they are impressive!
After the exhibit, we headed upstairs to one of the most magnificent places we’ve had the pleasure to visit: The Long Room. The Long Room houses more than 200,000 of the oldest books. The library, constructed originally in the mid-eighteenth century with a flat ceiling, needed to expand in the mid-1800s because the bookshelf space had completely filled the shelves. One of the contributing factors to this full library was in 1801 the library was entitled to a free copy of every book published in Great Britain and Ireland. That would fill some shelves, especially with the talent coming out of these countries! In 1860, the barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper level book space was erected.
Before you cross the threshold into the Long Room, your heart stops for a moment and “whoa” escapes your lips. And, just like any good attraction, after taking in the sheer joy and amazement of the experience, you’re sent into the gift shop.
We learned later that the Long Room looks much like the Jedi archives in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Of course, rumor has it that Lucasfilms denied it was created with the Long Room in mind. You be the judge!
FYI – If you would like to see a larger image, click on the photo.
Just outside the Trinity College Library is the Berkley Library. However, right outside the library is a piece of interesting artwork – a bronze apocalyptic ball, also known as “A Sphere Within a Sphere” by Arnaldo Pomodoro, or as John affectionally called it, “Post-apocalyptic Pac-man.” Until our trip, we did not realize that there are several of these spheres around the world including the Vatican.
DUBLIN TRAVEL TIP: Despite looking at Dublin on a map (it seems so big) and as populated as this town is, it can be explored entirely by foot. However, taxi cabs, public buses and trams are plentiful if a traveler is weary.
What will we share next? A Jail in Dublin.