We had a super bus driver who knew lots of history, and good stories as well. He must do this drive many times a week, but he was enthusiastic and proud to share parts of Dublin with us. He stopped as we went along, which was very nice because we could get out and take pictures.
Northside and Southside Dublin: Dublin is divided by the Liffey River and a series of bridges join the two parts of the city together. Some are bridges which can be used by buses, automobiles, etc. and others, such as the Ha' Penny Bridge are only pedestrian bridges. The name refers to the half pence toll that people used to pay to cross it.
|Find out why there are locks on the Ha'penny Bridge|
|It seemed that every time I looked up |
there was a truck of Guinness in front of us! ~PV
If you are not familiar with the drink, you are probably familiar with the Guinness Book of Records, which was founded in 1955. Rick Steve's guidebook tells the story of thie Records book. In 1951, while hunting, the managing director at Guinness got into a debate with his companions over what was the fastest bird in Europe. They were disappointed when they couldn't find an answer. He hired a company who ran a fact finding agency in London to compile a book of answers to various questions. In the beginning, the entries mostly focused on facts about nature and animals, but few to include a wide variety of human achievements. Over 3.5 million copies are sold annually. The Guinness family has greatly benefitted the city of Dublin-not only through its employment, but also through the donation of park land, funds for restoration of important sites, such as St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Dublin Doors: Throughout Dublin, you see beautiful Georgian doors and doorways dating from the late 1700s. The doors are painted different colors, have beautiful fanlights, and are a Dublin trademark. You see them on posters, calendars, etc. Our guide told us that there were several stories about the different colors. One was that when Queen Victoria died, the Irish were told to paint their doorways black as a symbol of mourning, but they were glad that she had died, so used other colors instead. He also said that it helped a person find the right door after a night at the pubs. I don't believe we'll know the whole story!
More St. Patrick's Cathedral: When we first visited St. Patrick's, it was a cold, dreary day. Today, it was beautiful and our bus stopped so that we could take outside pictures. The cemetery is located behind St. Patrick's and included some beautiful Celtic crosses. Interestingly enough, St. Patrick is actually buried hundreds of miles away, in Northern Ireland.
|Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness |
After the bus tour, we visited the National Museum of Archaeology and History http://www.museum.ie/en/intro/archaeology-and-ethnography-museum.aspx which has a fabulous collection of artifacts dating from 7000 B.C. The building itself is beautiful and everything is displayed and labelled so well. There are actually four national museums, but this is the only one that we had time to visit and it was a real priority for me because of what it contains.
The exhibit called the Treasury contains items from 15 centuries of Ireland. Several hordes of golden items have been found throughout Ireland which date from the Iron Age and many of the items are exhibited here. It is amazing that these have survived, since gold is such a soft metal, but many are in wonderful condition and the intricacy of the work on the jewelry and other items is really amazing. There are several large brooches, from the 800s, which would have been used to hold cloaks closed. Several are made of gold and silver, and again, the work on them is tiny and intricate. Ireland did not go through the Dark Ages with the rest of Europe (c. 500-1000). Because of this, literacy was preserved in Ireland and items such as the jewelry and church relics were being created during this time.There are several items which would have been displayed and used in medieval churches. Much of this was destroyed during the Reformation and when you see what remains, it makes you grieve for what is lost. An exceptional item on display is the Faddan Psalter which was found in a peat bog. Rather than trying to describe the significance of this discovery myself, I'm going to take an excerpt from the website. I would also like to recommend a video which shows the discovery and initial preservation of the psalter.
"The Faddan More Psalter was discovered during peat cutting in a Tipperary bog in 2006. The book fell open upon discovery, and the visible Latin words in ualle lacrimarum (in the valley of tears) identified it as a psalter. The Psalter or Book of Psalms is a section of the Old Testament Bible. Biblical texts were first brought to Ireland during the 5th century by Christian missionaries. As Christianity spread, these texts were copied by Irish scribes. The Psalter came to hold a central place in the Irish monastic system, and children learned to read and write from the Psalter before being handed over to the monks for further instruction. Monks were expected to know the psalms from memory. The Faddan More Psalter was probably written around AD 800, in a nearby monastery, copied from an existing psalter. ..Excavation of the find place showed that the Psalter had been deposited along with a pigskin bag and an animal pelt. Radiocarbon dates from the other material found on the excavation indicate that the artefacts were deposited within a few hundred years of the Psalter being written, before AD 1000. The reasons for the deposition are not known. Earlier peat cutting in the bog uncovered an ancient wooden vessel and a fine leather satchel that dates to between the 7th and 9th centuries AD." The following video and others can be viewed from the website:
http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/list/focus-on-the-faddan-more-psalter.aspx?article=f86b1b62-fa5c-491b-aeb2-759ef81a587f. Thank goodness for those peat bogs! They have preserved many items so that we can study and enjoy them!
Additionally. the museum's collection of Bronze Age goldwork is one of the largest and most important in western Europe. "The earliest objects were produced between 2200 - 1800 BC from gold that was probably acquired from river gravels and worked into thin sheets by hammering." The metal working is very beautiful and the number of items is just overwhelming--a whole room just filled with one case after the other of gold necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other items.
The exhibit, Kingship and Sacrifice centers around two bodies dating from 400-200 B.C. that were found in peat bogs and were remarkably preserved. DNA testing and all kinds of other testing could be done on the bodies and the information they found about the people was amazing. Along with the bog bodies, other items associated with the rulers of Ireland are also displayed-eating tools, headdresses, weapons, clothing, etc.
There are many other exhibits in the museum and we spent a great afternoon wandering around in awe.
Reluctantly, we ended our time in Dublin and began to get ready to fly back to the States. Definitely, Dublin and Ireland have a very special place in our hearts. There's LOTS more we'd like to see!
|My reading material for the trip home ~PV|