Our transfer to Ireland via the smooth and rapid airport train from Oslo City and then an SAS flight to Dublin was seamless. We arrived here at about 12.30 pm local time and took half a hour, or so, to sort out our rental car and then drive to our hotel in Upper Leeson Street. Thank goodness for the TomTom GPS App on my iPhone which took all the stress out of finding our way through an unfamiliar city.
After a quick bite to eat, we caught a taxi down to Trinity College – the major university in Dublin to see the Book of Kells. This book is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks around 800 or slightly earlier. It is a masterwork of priceless Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure.
We exited the Kells exhibition through the Old College Library with its stately, high vaulted ceiling and displays of medical and scientific text books. On display is the skeleton of an Irish giant (Cornelius McGrath) – 7 feet, 10 inches tall. He died in 1758.
I’m not really sure how to describe our first impressions of Dublin. In the centre of the city, near Trinity College, there is some grand architecture with the University and the National Bank. The area along the Liffey River (not the pretty, gurgling one south of Launceston) is rather scungy with a lot of cheap accommodation and tattoo parlours. Further along, we walked through a rather vibrant shopping area in Grafton Street. Passing through St Stephens Green was much more peaceful than earlier days when it was the site of public executions and floggings. Further along Leeson Street is an area of Georgian town houses with individual brightly coloured doors. Many of these look a little sad and there are lots of ‘Vacant – To Rent’ sign on them. Probably this is a sign of the very subdued Irish economy that I’m sure we will contribute to extensively during our visit.
What else would you expect to see in Ireland other than a harpist?