I started out the day going solo, returning to the Buttery for breakfast during which unexpected plans were made for the day. As I sat with half of my food left to finish, one student, who had toured the old prison with myself and others, found me in the cafe. We decided to meet in a few hours near the “Sphere With Sphere,” near the Old Library, to get in line for the Book of Kells exhibit.
As I waited for our agreed upon meeting time, I wandered campus toward the modern artwork, taking photos of the architecture along the way. There were so many examples of eye-catching details at Trinity College and I wanted to capture as much of it as possible.
One corner outside of the Berkeley Library had a few steps and a little wall, which made for a nice spot in the shade. I could look out over the line for Old Library, as well as at the crowd walking around and gazing curiously at the sphere’s design. There was also a view of the intricate exterior detail at the Museum Building.
I tried to scan each area for my friend. A small van made its way slowly through the line of many people awaiting a glimpse of the famous book filled with pages of Latin and illuminated art. It wasn’t too long before my friend and I met, joining them; many others followed behind us.
The line moved pretty fast and soon, we were just outside the doorway. A young woman guiding visitors inside stopped us for a few moments so it wouldn’t be so congested with so many people at once. Then she gave us the go-ahead and inside we went, to find large, beautiful, vibrant displays of numbers pages in the Book of Kells. Other wall displays showed Latin text and translations in English, a video showed how such old books were bound.
Gazing at the figures on those page displays, it reminded me of an art history class I took at a local community college. I noticed the dropped foot some figures had, a feature that my professor discussed while covering Celtic art. I wondered back then if I’d get to see it in person and there I was, finally, about eight years later!
We decided to go upstairs and a woman ahead of me had reached the landing and was facing up in the direction of the next set of steps. She let out a breathless, “Oh, Wow!” As I got to where she had stood a moment before, I turned and looked up to see the tall shelves of old, old books. They were impressive indeed and looking up at them gave me a sense of stepping back into the distant past.
I’ve seen many photos online showing views of the Old Library’s arched ceiling, rows of filled bookshelves on either side. It was another site in Ireland that I’d hoped to see someday. Knowing I was just steps away from doing so, it added to my excitement of being in Dublin. With two levels of tall bookshelves, their outer ends featuring columns, the upper floor’s ceiling arching between bookshelves, it was such a grand and impressive sight!
A guard, standing at the end of one bookshelf and a head bust of the philosopher Plato, reminded visitors to turn off their camera flashes. Items inside the display cases were sensitive to light, due to age. Plato was not the only one memorialized in a sculpture; many others had head busts placed at the ends of bookshelves on either side of us. I took the photo below of one with the name Doctor Baldwin because the name Baldwin is among several Scottish surnames in my family.
Soon afterward, we made our way back downstairs and into the gift shop where I couldn’t decide what to buy. There were so many wonderful items to choose from, with souvenirs of the Old Library, Trinity College, literary figures, Dublin and Ireland in general. The rest of the day was still ahead of us, so for the time being, I passed on shopping.
As we walked out toward the side entrance along Nassau Street, my friend and I met with her daughter and sister. The four of us were looking for a place to grab lunch and decided on Pacino’s. Their menu featured a lot of Italian dishes with such tempting descriptions, I couldn’t choose which delicious one to order. So, I went with the Pacino’s Cheeseburger; its artisan beef had a very different taste than what I’ve had before, but was also very good. When it was brought to the table, I first thought, “Oh, I forgot to tell them no mayonnaise.” But the texture, which seemed more like that of caprese, changed my mind. Although I don’t usually like that particular condiment, it tasted great in this case!
Following lunch, we wandered Grafton Street and again, the shopping area was alive with art displays and performers. One girl was playing the harp just off the main street, several vendors had vibrant flowers for sale. There was also this curious and creative sight.
Earlier in the week, someone in our global studies group mentioned spotting a gelato shop. She saw it on Grafton Street, so we decided to look for it as well. It was called Gino’s Homemade Italian Gelato and no wonder our classmate told others about the dessert. They had an amazing, colorful assortment of flavors to choose from, which could also be served on waffles! Gino’s was packed with gelato-lovers, right to its outer edges and into the street.
A church with a bright red door caught my attention and we walked down Anne Street South, off of Grafton, toward it. There were several smaller red doors at this church, St. Ann’s, which was just one of Dublin’s religious structures with beautiful architectural detail.
We continued on Dawson Street, going back toward Trinity College and spotting many more interesting details along the way. For instance, the medieval-themed base of a streetlight pole and a set of steps showing the name of an Irish county. That was of particular interest to me because many of my ancestors in Ireland came from County Tipperary.
Our City Sightseeing Dublin bus tickets from the day before were still good to use, so we hopped on again for a relaxing tour. Sitting in seats on the upper deck, we enjoyed the sights as a light breeze kept us cool. A few of the places included on the tour were those I hadn’t seen before, such as the enormous Croke Park, as well as Glasnevin Cemetery and a Papal cross in Phoenix Park. I also caught a glimpse of the Dublin Writers Museum and pretty flower baskets hanging from a building and over a curving canal. The bus also stopped at Kilmainham Gaol for several minutes. We were there at just the right time to see the Irish flag being taken down from its pole and carefully folded up.
While on the bus, I noticed a reminder for customers to review their experience of the tour on TripAdvisor. So I made a note later in my journal to do so once I was back home in the states. There were already a number of places I wanted to post reviews, all positive, on the travel website. As for City Sightseeing Dublin, whenever I go back to Ireland, I’ll definitely do the hop-on / hop-off again. It was such a great way to see the city with our two-day tickets.