I am loving the full Irish breakfast! We needed lots of fuel today because we went nonstop from 9 until 4.
Buswell's Hotel is a Georgian style hotel on 23 Molesworth Street. The tour includes some meals, and it is really nice to start the day with a great breakfast right in the hotel. We met at 8:50am for our walking tour. No grumps and no latecomers are the Rick Steves rules.
Our guide was Tom Graham, editor of History Ireland. What a trove of information interestingly delivered! We had a short walk down the street to start our day with a visit to Trinity College and a look at the Book of Kells. I thought the line looked long until we came back out; then it snaked around the courtyard twice as far. While we were in line, Tom talked to us about the history of Dublin and Trinity College. Queen Elizabeth I ordered the school in 1592 to establish a Protestant university to combat Irish barbarism. For years Catholics had to get special permission to attend, but that has all changed now. Women were not admitted until 1903.
The Book of Kells is a 1200 year old manuscript of the four gospels beautifully illustrated. When we made it into the building, we saw an exhibition showing how the vellum (185 calves gave up their skins) and pigments were made; there are large facsimiles of the pages. There is one page on exhibit in the Treasury. There is now an App available (for $11.99) which shows the entire Book of Kells.
Next we move into the Long Room of the Old Library. Our guide told us to be on the lookout for the Irish harp and the proclamation of 1916. It is a beautiful room lined with busts of famous writers and philosophers. The books are catalogued by size, large volumes on the bottom, smaller ones on top.
Tom is a terrific speaker, and he regaled us with tales of Irish history. I am thinking I need a bit more Velcro in the brain, but the more we circle through the stories, the more is beginning to stick. On the walking tour we visited the Parliament Building, which is now the Bank of Ireland; moving down the street we saw the Central Bank, the federal reserve of Ireland; Dublin Castle, City Hall and Christchurch.
I really had only a vague notion of Irish history before this trip, but I think it is best summed up by our guide's assertion that it is complicated. He told us it isn't simply a matter of Catholic versus Protestant, but loyalties shifted according to what was happening at the time. The exhibit we saw yesterday about WWI and the Easter Uprising is a great example.
After our tour ended at Christchurch, we were on our own. Roger and I decided to hop back on the bus and return to Glasnevin Cemetery. We made it just in time to do a guided tour which was another fantastic history lesson. We saw the graves of Daniel O'Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell; many famous Irish politicians and writers are buried in Glasnevin. We had to catch our bus long before we had exhausted our interest. We never made it to the museum and we didn't have time to wander around nearly as much as we would like, The tour ended with a recreation of a funeral speech given in 1913; it was used as a way to address the desire for Irish Home Rule. Soon after, the British no longer allowed large public funerals.
A couple of interesting stories from the cemetery involve grave robbers and good luck. Back when grave robbing was a profitable business watch towers were built on the corners of the cemetery wall to keep the entrepreneurs out. However, according to one of our bus guides, the snipers in the towers shot the grave robbers and then sold their bodies. The luck story involves the tradition of touching inside the crypt of Daniel O'Connell for good luck. If you look at picture #13 you will see a partition at the end of the coffin. There were steps going up in the O'Connell tower until a few years ago when the troubles resulted in the bombing of public monuments. There are plans to rebuild the steps so that visitors can go up in the tower.
We definitely made the most of our Hop on Hop Off bus pass. We made three circuits of the route, and we stopped at the cemetery on the last lap. We bought the ticket good for 48 hours, so we had a variety of guides. Our favorite was yesterday's, Neil. He was entertaining but illuminating. He also recommended a restaurant near our hotel, Carluccio's. We took his suggestion which proved to be as sound as his tour.
Tomorrow we will be boarding our bus and meeting our driver, The journey continues!