Not enough pictures of Dublin

I got back to Waterford last night (Friday) after 3.5 excellent days in the capital, where we all sweated under the unaccustomed Irish sun. That squinting modifier is deliberate because both senses of it are true: everyone is unaccustomed to so much sun, and it seems like the sun is unaccustomed to shining so much on Ireland. Thursday afternoon a temperature record of 32C (89.6F) was set at Shannon Airport. That was the hottest day; high temps are retreating to the mid-20s (25C = 77F) but even that range is unusual for this country. Everyone is sunburned–including the man I saw from a Dublin bus yesterday who was lying on a lounger in his tiny front garden, getting more sunburn on top of his existing sunburn–pubs are stuffy; buses are baking; and Dublin has banned the use of “hosepipes” (garden hoses) starting Monday. Apparently in a wet country it doesn’t take very many dry days to tip over into drought conditions.

The students were surprised at how much warmer these temperatures seem when one is out in them all day rather than just going from air-conditioned home to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned university campus. But we went out in them all day just the same, and everyone survived. Fortunately it was just hot enough to be tiring, not hot enough to make anyone ill–or at least not any Georgians ill; we did notice an above-average number of ambulances on the move during our days in Dublin.

Tuesday afternoon we kicked off our Dublin visit with a tour of Croke Park, the Gaelic sports stadium. Croke Park has a significant place in Irish culture and history: it is the home of Gaelic sports (hurling, camogie, and Gaelic football) exclusively and therefore a center of Irish national pride. There has been a sports ground at Croke Park for more than a century; the stadium in its current form seats over 82,000 and, from its roof, affords some amazing views of Dublin.

At the stadium entrance are crests of all the Gaelic sports clubs in the world, including in the U.S. and Canada.

Clubs in Canada

The crest of one of Atlanta’s clubs, Clan na Gael

The other Atlanta club is Na Fianna.

2 clubs in Québec: Montreal Shamrocks and Les Patriotes.

Waterford’s crest is at the top next to its name (Port Láirge); these are all the clubs within Co. Waterford.

Inside the players’ lounge where the winning and losing sides party together after they play, a chandelier that changes colors to match the teams playing that day. Blue and white are Waterford’s colors.

Down on the pitch. We couldn’t actually walk on the grass but for 10 euro you could buy a patch of turf in a little pot and take it home!

Views around Dublin from the top of the stadium

On a clear day like this you can see all the way out to the bay.

Looking down onto the pitch from the skywalk, which projects out over the seats.

After Croke Park we headed to our lodgings. While in Dublin we stay at Dublin City University’s Glasnevin campus. The rooms are basic, but comfortable, clean, and safe. Although it gets noisy in the evenings because a lot of student groups stay there, the staff seem to enforce quiet hours pretty assertively. As I am hearing that lodgings in Dublin are getting extremely expensive, DCU is a good option to look at if you’re on a budget. It’s away from the city centre but there is a bus stop right outside the campus with lots of buses going into town. Once we dropped off our luggage we took our own bus to O’Connell Street right in the middle of Dublin and gave the students a very short walking tour to get them oriented: Parnell’s statue, the spire, O’Conell’s statue, the river, Trinity College, and Temple Bar is [*pointing*] over there. Then we faculty and staff made ourselves invisible for a few minutes while the students dispersed, and sheered off to have dinner on our own! (Go to the Gin Palace. Order a Star 75. You can thank me later.)

Wednesday morning we had work to do. The Dublin visit was set up so that each class had one full day for field trips. Wednesday was the morning class field trip day. My job, along with our consultant Jonathan, was to take the students who didn’t have a morning class on a field trip. That means I got to choose our destinations! We walked via Trinity College (again–sensing a theme?) to Christchurch Cathedral, Marsh’s Library, and finally St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with a pause for lunch in a park. I love cathedrals, so I pity da fool who did not.

Trinity College, or as one of the students said, “This is what a university should look like.”

A quotation from Emmeline Pankhurst celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage in Ireland.

Dublin Castle–en route between Trinity and Christchurch.

Inside Christchurch–always trying to get better at photographing stained glass.

The altar at Christchurch.

I somehow did not take any pictures outside Christchurch, maybe because they have put up these strange panels around the entrance. They’re covered with little-kid-style drawings depicting what’s offered on Christchurch’s children’s tours. That’s great, but the panels detract from the overall cathedral-ness of Christchurch for sure.

Next stop! Archbishop March’s library, the first public library in Dublin. The building, collections, and even the shelves date to the 1770s, so you can imagine I was in my element. Here’s my recommendation as an extremely amateur Dublin tour guide: do not miss Marsh’s Library. It’s nearly as thrilling for book/history/book-history nerds as the Long Room at Trinity, with 1/10th the tourists and for a lot less money. The only small bummer is that they allow only very limited photography, so you will just have to trust me when I say that their current exhibit of extremely rare early books (volumes of which Marsh’s holds either the only copy or one of fewer than 5) is absolutely worth seeing.

It took a while for Marsh’s to figure out that they couldn’t allow people to take books off the premises–they had a lot of thefts over the years. At one time, readers would be locked into one of these carrels while they were reading/studying and would have to demonstrate before they were allowed to leave for the day that they weren’t stealing any books.

A geometry textbook in Arabic on display at Marsh’s.

Most of Marsh’s holdings are pre-1800. The hardest part was not being able to touch anything.

This is a cast of the skull of Esther Johnson, Swift’s “Stella,” made when Stella’s and Swift’s bodies surfaced from their burial site due to flooding and casts were made of their skulls before they were re-interred. Note also the Lego minifigure, one of several cached around Marsh’s for visitors to find.

We took a little break at this point in the tour to sit under trees in a park and eat some sandwiches. As much as I love all the sights we saw on Wednesday, the picnic lunch may have been the best part. It’s the kind of thing one never thinks to do at home and never gets to do in Dublin. Plus I had a sandwich of brie and cranberry sauce on toasted whole wheat ciabatta and it was SO DELICIOUS.

Our final stop for the day was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, my favorite place in Dublin. Seeing Swift and Stella’s burial plaques in the floor and reading his epitaph never fails to give me a thrill. Not to mention, of course, that the cathedral is beautiful:

Swift’s epitaph, which he composed.

Swift’s pulpit-on-wheels. The “urban legend” is that he would have an assistant wheel him up next to people who were sleeping in church. I don’t believe for a moment that it’s an urban legend!

Students trying out brass rubbing.

Flags of Irish regiments who fought for Britain hang throughout the cathedral. They are never removed, simply not replaced when they decompose.

Arms of members of the Order of St. Patrick.

Still working on the stained-glass thing.

Our “morning orphans” with Jonathan.

At this point the pictures are about to run out–I took very few Thursday and none yesterday. But this entry is already over 1300 words so I will take a pause here and post more about Dublin tomorrow.

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