Ah, my time in Dublin is rapdily diminshing like the grains of sand between my fingers. If all goes as planned, this time tomorrow I’ll be in France!
Yesterday I awoke to a gray and misty wet day. I immediately recognized it as a classic museum day! I set off after breakfast for the national museum. I had been once before weeks ago but I was suffering from a sinus infection and didn’t enjoy it fully or really look at everything, so it was a natural start. It was much better this time. I almost feel I should have re-done the whole thing, but instead, I focused on taking in the details on all the finds from the gold hoardes. I also checked out an exhibition on the excavations at Tara, knowing I’d be there today. I’m sure I must have walked through there before but had no memory of it at all.
I spent hours there before deciding to move on. I planned to take in the Natural History Museum which is nearby. The museum itself might not interest me, but it’s apparently become renowned as a museum of 19th century museums as it’s not been updated in well, quite some time. There are signs all over advertising it. I don’t just mean street signs, we’re talking flash vinyl outdoor adverts. So, I walk up and there’s a sign it’s closed. I thought maybe for the day or afternoon or something. No, the guard told me a section of the ceiling collapsed and it’s closed indefinitely. Ah, would be nice to remove the signs saying to come see it, eh!
Defeated on that point and really over the urge to see any museums, I just did some aimless wandering. I stopped by HMV and got the new CD from Codeine Velvet Club (side project of the lead singer of the Fratellis) as I discovered unlike the other albums I wanted to get here, it would actually cost me more to import that one than to buy it here. Why, I know not!
After dinner, I had it in mind to find somewhere for some live rock music. I found a place that sounded promising and set off to find it. An hour later I had accomplished my mission. It’s not that it was THAT far away, it’s just that Dublin (as a lot of old cities do) likes for its streets to change names any old place for any old reason. That coupled with very poor signage caused me to totally miss my destination despite once being within a block of it! Ah well! Once there, not much seemed to be going on despite the advertised start time. Having a tour this morning, I didn’t fancy staying out late so made a meandering path back to the hostel. I spent another hour in that misty wet, not because I was lost but just taking in the sights of a part of the city I’d missed to date.
My Italian room-mate and I had, until last night, been mysteriously in sync. Typically when I came in, he was just getting ready for bed so that saved both of us the whole fumbling around in the dark trying not to wake up the other person in the room deal. Last night my going to bed early broke that routine. Still, it worked for me because I sleep soundly I barely heard him come in enough to register he was there but not enough to put a time to it. Tonight may well be a repeat.
This morning, I was likewise up earlier than him and did my best to quietly get ready before dashing off to meet up with a tour group bound for Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. It was a fab day for a tour, bright, sunny, and nearly cloud free. The Hill of Tara, while there’s not a lot for the naked eye to see, was a gorgeous green place with an amazing view. You can definitely appreciate why it was strategically an important spot in ancient times. It was once, among, other things, the site of the coronation of the high kings of ancient Ireland.
The second stop was Newgrange, a chamber tomb that was 1,000 years old when the pyramids at Giza were built. We were told that it was the oldest intact astronomical observatory in the world. For six days each year around the winter solstice, sunlight penetrates the door into the inner chamber where burials of cremated remains once took place. The exact reasons and meaning for this neolithic monument are lost to us, but its amazing nonetheless. And, being a month late for the solstice, as we stood inside the tomb, the sunrise was simulated and it was truly amazing! Newgrange definitely ranks high on my list of things I’ve seen in Ireland if not at the top.
While I’m at it, let me put in a word for Mary Gibbons, the tour guide. If you’re ever in Dublin, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you take a tour from her. I think she only offers two, and I’m sorry I won’t get to take the other before I leave. She was truly a professional. She provided information to us pretty much non-stop from beginning to end. And while 8,000 years of Irish History is a lot to absorb, I felt like I probably got the most retained information from her tour. And I thought I had some excellent guides up until now! Her style of delivery and tone was perfect. If she’s not also teaching somewhere (or didn’t in the past), then she’s missed her calling.
Arriving back in town, it was near dusk. While I wish there could have been two of me today, one who stayed here and enjoyed the bright light of day in town and one who took the tour, there was only the one of me. So, I made do enjoying that deep blue dusk sky that you only get on a clear night and wandered around taking my last Dublin photos until it turned to inky black. And still I wandered some more before calling it a night. I need to get my bags in order before bed tonight! I’ve been here close to a month and I am ready to move on, but it’s always a bit sad to bid farewell to a place for me. So, keeping it brief, au revoir Dublin – next stop Paris!