A Travellerspoint blog

Ireland

Just Living Life in Ireland

by Ben

semi-overcast 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Typical Georgian Style Doorways in Dublin

Typical Georgian Style Doorways in Dublin

Yesterday we did enough sightseeing for two days. So we eased off today and spent the morning on laundry and grocery shopping and some logistics for our return to the UK tomorrow. In the afternoon Muriel and I walked to St. Stephen’s Green, one of Dublin’s oldest parks. Afterwards we did a little shopping which included a new camera. Our camera got a scratch on the lens which is showing up in all of our pictures since the day we visited the Cliffs of Moher. Since we seem to go through digital cameras almost as fast as our kids go through shoes and our budget is tight we didn’t go high end. Hopefully we still have something a bit better than what we had before. It has a lot more controls than the others so it may take some time to see an improvement in our photo quality.

After shopping, Muriel and I had a nice time just chatting in a coffee shop (we were well into our second hour when we finally got up to leave). Something we may need to do a bit more of when we get back home. Time away has provided some really good chances to talk about the bigger things in life.

Hannah took a walk around the neighbourhood on her own in the afternoon. We are appreciating the kids being more willing to venture out on their own. The whole idea of a foreign country as being a place where kids and even teenagers always need to be supervised is something we have worked against. It still seems to take time for the kids to think about going out on their own but they have been doing it much more frequently over the past couple of months.

We have to be at the ferry terminal tomorrow at around 7:30 am so we will try to get to bed a little earlier than we have been of late.

Posted by KZFamily 13:11 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland dublin Comments (2)

A Dublin Day

by Ben

semi-overcast 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

The Little Museum

The Little Museum

Today was all about walking and building a better mental picture of what Dublin looks like and expand our understanding of the story of Irish independence that seems to underlie every road, statue and edifice. We walked the less than two kilometers from our apartment to the edge of St. Stephen’s Green to visit The Little Museum. It is a real gem that Hannah stumbled across in her research on Dublin. It only opened a couple of years ago. At its heart are two rooms decorated with approximately 400 items donated by ordinary Dubliners which chronicle the story of 20th century Dublin. It is a narrative that closely aligns with the struggle for Irish Independence. A docent from the museum walked us through the two rooms and wove the story of the city from 1900 to 2000. It was ironic that our guide who so skillfully explained to us the most pivotal events of Dublin in the last hundred years is a recent polish immigrant. The turbulent history of Dublin and the long-suffering nature of its citizens is sobering stuff. The recent crash of the Irish economy seems to be an echo of economic calamities that have hit this city repeatedly during the century.

In addition to documents and items of significant historical significance, The Little Museum also housing much more common place objects that also speak volumes about life in Dublin. There was a long leather bingo card. It was noted in the 1930s that the bingo cards were regularly going missing from bingo halls. It was discovered that people were stealing them to resole their shoes. To stop the theft, bingo halls punched a number of holes into each card rendering them useless for shoe repair. There were many pictures of poverty and hardship on display which continued into the 1980s. Overcrowding has been a longstanding problem. In the 1920s it was discovered that 850 people were living in 15 homes in one Dublin neighbourhood. In the 1980s there were still families of 8 sharing two double beds.

All that being said the quote our docent left us with really summed up the story told in this museum:

This has never been a rich or powerful country, and yet, since earliest times, its influence on the world has been rich and powerful. No larger nation did more to keep Christianity and Western culture alive in their darkest centuries. No larger nation did more to spark the cause of independence.
The quote is from Bernard Shaw and was part of the speech John F. Kennedy gave to the Irish parliament. To see the full text click here.

Trinity College

Trinity College

After this very pleasant journey through recent history we strolled over to Trinity College to go even further back in time. Establish in 1592, Trinity College is one of the oldest universities in Western Europe. For the majority of its history it has been a protestant island in the midst of a Catholic sea. It was not until the late 1800s that Catholics could hold teaching positions and it was not until 1970 that a practicing Catholic could attend the College without first seeking written permission from his or her bishop, otherwise they would be committing a mortal sin. The College is home to a number of important Christian manuscripts, the most famous of which is the Book of Kells which dates back to the 800s. It is a book that is written on vellum which is calf skin scraped clean of all its hair. The Book of Kells which is an illustrated four volume work of the Gospels is estimated to have taken more than 180 calf hides to create. The detail and craftsmanship is awe inspiring. It was a privilege to be able to see this book and several others like it first hand.

Trinity College: library

Trinity College: library

The Book of Kells exhibit is on the bottom floor of the historic Trinity library. The Longroom on the floor above it houses a collection of 200,000 of the University’s oldest books. As people may already know, I have a soft spot for libraries. I have been taken with quite a few in our travels these past 5 months. This one rates as one of my favourites. It may not be as ornate as some other great libraries but the sheer size of this old library and the richness of the volumes it contains is enough to take your breath away.

As hard as it is to believe, we had not yet quenched our appetite for history for the day. A short jaunt from the Trinity College is the National Museum which houses all archeological objects found in Ireland; which to date is 2 million objects and counting. We came specifically to see the Ireland Gold exhibition which showcases prehistoric gold work from 2200 to 500 BC and the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition of Iron Age bog bodies and related finds. The collection of gold objects and their large size was impressive and the preserved bronze age bodies that have been found in Ireland’s many bogs were quite eerie.

The museum, along with the National library is situated in a beautiful building that was first a mansion and then became Irish parliament for several decades before being turned into a museum. Like the British Museum, the National Museum charges no admission. This fact is what prevented us damaging our minds through information overload. We spent an hour browsing the two exhibitions and then left to take a walk along Europe’s widest street, O’ Connell Street. This street, named for a key figure in the struggle for independence in the 1800s, was the backdrop for the 1916 Irish uprising which was instrumental in pushing forward the cause for Irish independence. Many of the building on this street were destroyed and the outrage regarding such destruction and behaviour while many Irishman were overseas fighting in World War I led to much outrage at first. The execution of 14 of these combatants quickly shifted public opinion and saved the life of Valera who was due to be the 15th executed. Within a few years Valera would become Ireland’s first prime minster. At the far end of the street is a monument to Parnell another giant in the Irish story of independence.

Monument of Light

Monument of Light

In the 1960s, the IRA blew up the Admiral Nelson Pillar which was located at the midpoint of O’Connel Street. In its place is a large chrome pilon that stretches to the sky. It is officially called the Monument of Light and the Irish feel it doesn'trepresent anything in particular and seems to be quite at odds with its surroundings. The locals refer to the monument as The Spike, The Stiletto in the Ghetto and The Nail in the Pale. Standing at its base and staring upwards does give the illusion that the monument reaches into space itself.

Exhausted but satisfied by our day’s exploration we returned home to rest and eat. We headed out in the evening to take in a performance that is aspiring to be the modern day successor of River Dance. The most talented Irish dancers of this generation have formed a dance company called Prodiji. They have combined traditional Irish dance with ballet and modern dance. Their new show, Footstorm, which premiered just a few days ago is an amazing display of talent. I have to admit the post apocalyptic science fiction storyline of the show, left a lot to be desired (a lot of laser effects, fog and tribal costumes) but the dancing was truly world class. After the main performance was complete, the troop came out again in casual dance garb and performed a couple of pieces in the style that earned this group its initial fame. It was an awesome display of physical skill and grace that brought the entire theatre to its feet. It was worth the cost of the ticket just to see these two numbers. It will be interesting to see if the public will forgive the somewhat confusing and quirky storyline of Footstorm and adopt it as the new Irish dancing spectacle that River Dance became.

If there was ever a full day, this was it. We went to sleep tired and our appetite for all things Irish sated until least tomorrow.

Posted by KZFamily 13:06 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland dublin Comments (1)

Drinking and Hurling

BY ABBY

semi-overcast 14 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Guinness Storehouse: Enjoying the 'free' pint at the end of the tour

Guinness Storehouse: Enjoying the 'free' pint at the end of the tour

Today was a really great day, especially becuase it started with french toast!!! My mom had been wanting it lately, so this morning she made us all some, and we all enjoyed it very much. After breakfast we had a little discussion about what places we wanted to see, and in the end we chose two. First we would go to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour, and after that we would check out a jail called Kilmainham Gaol. At 4:30 we would go to a hurling match played by some 18 year old guys to finish off our first day in Dublin.

On our way to the storehouse my dad realized he had forgotten the camera, so the real start to our day was postponed a little, as we drove back across town to retrieve it. But all was well and we made it to Guinness in one piece. We were granted free parking for visiting, which was a bonus, as our tickets were definitely not cheap. The tour was different than I thought, as I had imagined we were going to get a tour of the place where it's actually made, and that we would see the process first hand, but this was not the case. We went to a separate building where we were able to see all the steps by watching short video clips or reading about them on signs. It was a very informative tour, and even though it was different than expected, I still enjoyed it a lot. At the end of our visit we were able to turn in our ticket for a pint of Guinness or a soft drink. Three of us chose the soft drink, and I'm sure you know who they were.

More information about the Guinness Storehouse: Click Me! No, Click ME!.

After the storehouse we went off to the jail as planned. We arrived at two, but the next available tour was at three, so we were able to look at the "award winning" museum. I got a little tired here, and personally, I wouldn't have given it any awards. But there was one exhibit I did enjoy. It was an interactive computer that was on the subject of capital punishment.

"I don't know what capital punishment is...."
"Click me! I know!!"

Kilmainham Gaol: painted by a female Nationalist inmate

Kilmainham Gaol: painted by a female Nationalist inmate

We were also allowed to vote on whether we were for or against it. There was a large screen with the tally of all the votes. There were about 100,500 votes against capital punishment and around 93,500 for it. All four of us voted against it.

The tour of the jail started at exactly 3 o'clock. I really liked our tour guide... and my dad described him as "very earnest". I enjoyed the tour, especially learning about the people who had stayed in the jail. Over some doors there were little signs with the name of an inmate who had stayed there at one time or another. We even learned about a couple who got married the day the husband had been scheduled to be executed by a hanging. A while after his death, she was imprisoned, and we were able to see the cell in which she had stayed. She had even painted a large picture of Mary and Jesus which was still there.

Learn more about the husband, Joseph Plunkett, here.
Learn more about the wife, Grace Gifford, here.
Learn more about the Kilmainham Gaol here.

Gaelic game of hurling

Gaelic game of hurling

After the tour we quickly drove the field where the hurling game was to be played. As I am still not completely sure how the sport is played, I won't try to teach you. Instead, I'll give you some links so you can try and figure it out by yourself.

General Knowledge of the game: here
Brief overview through video: here

We sat next to some parents who were watching their 18 year old son (he was number 7). In the end his team lost by three points, but it was still very entertaining to watch. In the last few minutes we even got a ball flying our way, but between the two husbands, nobody got hit. When we left, we gave them a pin as a thank you for teaching us a little about the sport as we watched.

The day has been full, but in a good way. I am so happy to be better, as now I can go out and see more of Ireland... even if it does mean I have to start blogging again.

Posted by KZFamily 10:23 Archived in Ireland Tagged dublin guinness jail hurling kilmainham_gaol guinness_storehouse Comments (3)

At The Market

By Hannah

sunny 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

We left our rustic abode in Kinvara at around 10:30 this morning. The plan was to stop in town just long enough to pick up some lunch items and motion sickness pills, and then start the three and a half hour drive to Dublin. However, we were surprised to find a tiny bustling market taking up one of the streets we passed while looking for a pharmacy. Several kiosks lined each side of the lane, selling jam and vegetables and live chickens. We decided that we wouldn't mind arriving in Dublin a little later than originally planned.

large_160_Kinvara_to_Dublin_004

large_160_Kinvara_to_Dublin_004

We wandered about, taking in the Irish banter and beautiful weather that had eluded us for so long. The sound of traditional Irish folk music filled the air, played by a pair of elderly and very enthusiastic musicians. Mom and I paused at a stall selling wool tweed hats and headbands in a variety of colours. I ended up falling in love with a purple toque, while Mom went with a pink and purple knitted headband that doubled as earmuffs. We continued on, turning to look at jewellery and pictures and eventually coming across a stand laden with sauces, chutneys, and jams. Mom promptly picked out a jar of mango chutney, her favourite condiment. The stall's attendant struck up a conversation with us, and we learned he was originally from Scotland, with family from Northern Ireland and England as well. He had moved here roughly twenty years ago, but still wasn't considered a local, which he preferred. Laughing, he told us that he could get away with more if he remained a "foreigner". However, he seemed to me to be the perfect embodiment of a friendly, jovial Irishman. The three of us departed with wave and a smile. A couple of other kiosks caught my eye, including a display of the most interesting puppets I'd ever seen. A collection of griffins, elves, and other mythical creatures composed of colourful fabric and skillful stitches stared back at me as I attempted to wish more space into my already full bags. Just before we left, Mom bought Abby an adorable little handcrafted Edward Scissorhands figurine, a character that Abby is rather fond of, and a loaf of homemade bread for our lunch later that day. Then we said goodbye to Kinvara for good.

We drove for about an hour and a half, during which time the "slight drowsiness" the antinauseant was supposed to cause put me into a coma. We stopped for a brief lunch in the sunshine, laying our picnic out on a couple of benches. Besides the good weather, the only unusual thing we came across in the greenspace was a trio of worn statues of children, all looking slightly unsettling with their crumbling faces. We dubbed them "Medusa's grandchildren". Then we packed up once more and completed our journey to Ireland's capital city, Dublin.

Dublin is expensive. Our new apartment costs twice as much as our last accommodation. However, it also seems to be about twice as large. Its white walls, modern style, and clean atmosphere all stand in stark contrast with the country cottage's ramshackle exterior, grubby interior, and rough wooden accents. We're back in an urban environment, and while it's still pricey, this spacious apartment doesn't end up costing much more than a hotel might.

New digs in Dublin

New digs in Dublin

Once we had familiarized ourselves with our new home, Mom, Dad, and Abby all went out to pick up some groceries for dinner. I was still drowsy due to the effects of the antinauseant, so they allowed me to pass out on the couch instead. For dinner I cooked a sort of bangers and mash, except the mash was colcannon and the bangers were wrapped in bacon and stuffed with onions and sage. We haven't eaten a meal that hearty since I don't know when.

We have a great view from the balcony of our apartment. Row upon row of houses with four chimneys apiece sit in front of us, set off by a massive sports stadium in the background. The sky has turned a dusky blue and bright orange street lamps are flickering on. I have a good feeling about this city.

Posted by KZFamily 13:28 Archived in Ireland Tagged market ireland dublin kinvara Comments (2)

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