Growing up I’d always known there was Irish blood in my veins. I’d long been fascinated with all things Irish. Who knows why? Perhaps because I was a voracious reader as a child and early exposure to the works of Joyce, Wilde and Yeats left an impression. I’m positive that discovering u2 in the early 80s helped that fascination along nicely. Perhaps the tugging at my heart when gazing at pictures or videos of the Irish countryside stirred something inside me that was familiar? I’m a firm believer that DNA remembers. Maybe it’s a little “out there”, but I prefer to think of one’s makeup as not just blood and bones and physical parts.
I’d heard stories, nosed around some old genealogy records, and upon receiving my DNA results, was able to corroborate what I’d already seen in my family tree. As it turns out I’m 99% European, with Ireland claiming 30% of that. On a recent trip through Europe, I got the chance to visit several places my ancestors left generations before. Ireland was one of those places.
Dublin In July
We touched ground in Dublin during the month of July, and the temps were heavenly. Unlike the high 90s and sweltering heat back home, Dublin was cool and breezy with temps in the 60s. We arrived on a weekday, drove to the vicinity of Trinity College, parked the car and just walked. There’s nothing quite like finally arriving in a place you’ve longed to visit your whole life, standing on the street corner with people bustling all around, and having no particular place to go or time to be there.
The architecture is a wonderful mixture of styles. Dublin boasts many stunning medieval structures as well as examples of neoclassical, Georgian and modern styles. Everywhere you turn, there is something interesting to see. I particularly enjoyed people watching from a local pub.
One of the most iconic places in all of Dublin is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Both the tallest and largest church in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the national church for all of Ireland. Built in 1191, it is an amazing example of Gothic architecture. Interesting tidbit–writer Johnathon Swift was Dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745.
Trinity College is a must-see for many reasons. Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, it is Ireland’s oldest university and boasts a long list of notable alumni including Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Neils Bohr, Aleister Crowley, John Butler Yeats and even one Courtney Love. It was an important place in the early years of the rock band U2, who played lunchtime gigs there as early as 1979.
Book Of Kells
Trinity College is also home to the famed Book Of Kells. Regarded as Ireland’s national treasure, the Book Of Kells is a stunningly beautiful and intricately illustrated book containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. Dating to about 800 AD, the book is named for the Abbey of Kells, where it lived during the medieval period until the Vikings plundered the abbey at some point during the 10th century. How it survived is a mystery. The book’s cover, believed to have been adorned with precious jewels, was said to have been ripped from the manuscript and stolen.
We bought tickets to view the Book of Kells and stood in a pretty long line, but it was absolutely worth it to see such an incredible treasure. It is truly beyond description. Everyone should see it. I’m not particularly religious and I thought it just incredible. Along with the book itself are several display cases explaining how the book was created and the materials used. Photos were not allowed and guards reminded us of this every few moments. As I understand it, pages are periodically turned so that different pages are on display at different times. There is an iPad app, however, that can be purchased that allows you to see a high resolution image of every single page of the Book of Kells.
Visit the official site of the Book Of Kells at Trinity College Dublin to learn more about the exhibit and to purchase tickets.
Next: Eric Clapton’s crib and barefoot in the Wicklow Mountains
Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin