So, this is actually Anna writing — PSYCH! — because Strummer has thrown herself on the floor and said “I HATE BLOGGING!” So … I’m just gonna get this rolling. MAYBE she’ll show up later. Oh, and as if that weren’t bad enough news, turns out we kind of didn’t take a lot of great pix of the trip to Dublin. So I shall supplement with internet photos like this:
So — our beloved little Geneva NY has 13K people. Our beloved Galway has 75K which is surprising, because it only feels like maybe 30K. But Dublin has over 500K. And I’m pretty sure they were all getting smashed every night outside our hotel room each night we were there.
Yeah, so by way of OVERVIEW: Dublin is a big, loud city with a critical mass of drunk tourists heavily concentrated in one part of town, and then also lots of cool parts too and gobs of important history. In this post we will try to explore the good, the bad, and the ugly that is Dublin. And then there will be a cool P.S. at the end about the ancient amazing pre-christian, like 1000 years OLDER THAN THE PYRAMIDS passage tombs we also visited on our return from Dublin. Wow factor alert.
CROKE PARK, home of the GAA or Gaelic Athletic Association, is COOL.
The GAA was est in 1884 to promote Irish sports. They helped preserve and promote hurling and Gaelic football, among other things, and get these things integrated into the schools (Strummer is learning to play hurling in 3rd grade, as B did when we were here before.)
We had just watched Galway (lose) in the All-Ireland Hurling Finals, so it was rad to see the real (huge) stadium where it took place.
Also — in the Irish Life & Culture class I’m “auditing” with the students I am learning about how lots of the GAA founders were also pioneers in the nationalist and independence movements. And the Irish Citizens Army trained with hurleys when they didn’t have guns, and even armed themselves with hurleys to protect workers’ demonstrations from police. Like this:
Oh, and don’t forget Croke Park was also the site of one the 1920 “Bloody Sunday” massacre when British soldiers *opened fire* on players and fans in the stands — apparently in retaliation for Michael Collins’ people offing some British agents the night before. The grisly details are here.
DUBLIN HISTORY is cool. We went to the Collins Barracks (former British army barracks and museum)…
…where we saw a special exhibit on the Easter Rising of April 1916. The centennial of the Rising is next spring, so there is a LOT of stuff to read and do and think about. I bought a copy of the Proclamation from the museum store because, well, I’m inspired by the human capacity for revolution — to completely reconceive and remake a society.
We saw Patrick Pearse’s pistol and an incredible WWI exhibit, and the girls took in some cool propoganda posters —
–and interacted with some some really great interactive exhibits. (They now know how to present arms and keep the barracks tidy):
I didn’t get any pix of the flipping FANTASTIC walking tour we had with this genius medieval historian named Grace who taught us all about a million things, like the Vikings (Dublin really started out as a Viking burgh) and the history of British conquest (cool factoid: the expression “beyond the Pale” comes from a Middle Age reference to the areas clustered around Dublin — “the Pale” — which were perceived to be loyal to the English government), and castles, and Parliaments’ comings and goings. She began the tour at —
Trinity College which is also cool,especially because we got to gawk at a couple pages from the Book of Kells and the long library/reading room, which is totally and completely Harry Potterish.
Well, I think the Guinness Brewery was just bad. Very bad. It’s tragically the #1 tourist attraction in Dublin, and it’s as though Disney set up a beer amusement park. Don’t get me wrong, Guinness is nectar of the gods (even if it IS owned by a British multinational now, twitch), but this place was like a gross crowded neon ride you just want to get off.
So we did. We took a fun sunny sightseeing-bus ride instead.
I later attended a play at the Abbey Theater, and got this shot of the Liffey (I *do* love the name of that river, must say) on the walk home.
After a night of somewhat crappy sleep (THE UGLY in Dublin being all the LOUD AND DIRTY DRUNKS — again, mostly TOURISTS, let’s be clear)… we had our bloomin’ breakfast —
So these tombs — a World Heritage Site, older than Stonehenge and the pyramids — are built so that on the solstice, the sunlight manages to make a miraculous journey down to the center of the shaft (where the urn of cremated remains were kept)
and shine directly into the inner chamber, in one case, right onto this symbol:
And at this point, because we are in the realm of pre-history, the guide says, “YOU decide what you think it all means.”
Oh, and one more, since we’ve had complaints about no pix of me. Our final stop was an early Christian site, Clonmacnoise, on the River Shannon. Beautiful ruins, and some seriously ancient, famous celtic crosses.
And let’s close with a couple goofballs, one of whom now owes you a blog post.