Monday, February 21, 2011

Dublin Day 4

The National Leprechaun Museum. We stepped into another world as we entered into the magical tunnel that made us small as a leprechaun. We learned what life was like through the eyes of these mischievous creatures and learned all about the myths and stories that surround them.

Ian was a bit thirsty and having lots of fun.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and where our "expert" on leprechauns told us some more interesting stories on the life of a leprechaun.
At the end of the tour the kids got to create their own pictures out of the stories that they heard and they got posted in the frames on the wall of the museum.
Cam's a fan of U2 and as we were staying in the B&B, we found out we were only a 5 minutes drive from one of Bono's residences. So, we went on a hunt to try and find the famous singer's house, well his gate anyway. We didn't get to see much of the house.

U2's recording studio. While we were driving around trying to find this place we obviously looked lost because a van pulled up beside us and asked us to roll down our window. The nice Irishman asked us where we were trying to get to because obviously we didn't know. When we told him we were looking for the U2 recording studio, he said to follow him and he would show us the way. Then when we got to a point in the road where he had to split, he jumped out of his van in the middle of the busy carriageway, and pointed out which direction we were suppose to head. He was great! One of my favorite stories of the trip. We have found the Irish to be very friendly and ever ready to help.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dublin Day 3

The next day we adventured out and took DART, the train, into the city center to catch our tour bus to our first stop, the St. Patrick's Cathedral, the national cathedral of the church of Ireland. This is where the "reputed" well is located where St. Patrick baptized converts on the church property. It's also most famously known for one of it's prior deans, Joathan Swift, who authored Guilliver's Travels among many others.
Inside the cathedral there were so many relics and impressive artwork. One of the caretakers told the kids that there are nine tiles on the floor that weren't facing like the rest. The builder did this on purpose feeling like no job should be perfect because God alone is the only perfect being. So, the kids ran around trying to find all 9 tiles. Unfortunately, they only found 6 by the time we had to leave but it kept them busy.

The grounds were beautiful around the cathedral. They even had a playground.
Our next stop was the Guinness museum. The museum was impressive and took you through a self-guided tour through the process of the making of a glass of Guinness. We learned the history of Arthur and how he brewed the first batch by accident by over roasting the barley. We even got a sample of the "roasted" barley. Each level took you up through a large pint glass until you came out on top at the Gravity Bar in which they gave you a complementary pint.
Half way through the tour they give you a "taste".
Sorry, after six months of being in Ireland I still can't drink the stuff.
Cam enjoyed his pint though.
The view from the Gravity Bar was breath-taking.
Our next stop was the Kilmainham Gaol (Jail). The jail was built in 1792 and held some of the first famous Nationalist who took part in the Easter Rising. Many of these people were executed in the prison yard. The prison also held children who were caught stealing flowers from public gardens or pieces of printed calico from the market place.
This jail also has been used in many movies like the first Italian Job and In the Name of the Father.
The kids couldn't believe kids their age were in cells like this. Many times the jail was overcrowded with five to ten people to a cell.

Dublin Day 2

We took a bus tour of downtown Dublin which was a great way to see all the highlights of the city. We started on O'Connell Street and saw many historic buildings and monuments. This is 'The spire" built in 2003.

The smallest pub in Europe, I believe.
After getting an overview of the city we went back to a few places that we really were interested in learning more about. The top place on my list was Trinity College where "The Book of the Kells" is housed. It also has the Old Library in the Long Room where they house 200,000 of the oldest books from Ireland. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside. It is a surreal feeling to be looking at a book that was written over 1000 years ago and to see the extreme care and artistry that went into every detail of the book. The boys were fascinated by the making of the ink and afterwards kept asking for calligraphy pens so that they could try making fancy letters. they have calligraphy lessons for kids? The power to feel the pages and the artwork was overwhelming for me and I wonder why I felt such a need to touch them. Maybe I wanted the connection of trying to feel what these monks must have felt while writing the words of the gospels with such reverence.
We walked through St. Stephen's Green, a beautiful park with lots of running places for the kids. It was a little chilly.

Then we took a walk through the "Dead Zoo" or otherwise named the Natural History Museum. The kids loved looking at the smallest bird to the biggest whale. It was pretty impressive to see all these animals in one place.
After a full day we returned back to our B&B exhausted but thoroughly enjoyed our day sightseeing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dublin Adventure Part 1

This week was mid-term break and so we packed our bags, jumped in the car, and headed south to Dublin. The drive was beautiful, crisp, cold, and clear. We made reservations at a B&B south of Dublin in Sandycove near Dun Laoghaire. The first day we explored all around Dublin Bay.
We saw the famed tower where James Joyce stayed for less than a week. It's more famously known for its feature in the opening chapter of Ulysses. We also saw the 40 foot pool where people swim year around in the icy, cold Irish Sea! Seems a little crazy to me.
The kids loved standing at the edge of this walk way and holding on to the yellow pole to watch the waves crash up over the walkway! I don't think this would pass the safety standard in the USA.
That evening we had a memorable moment back at the B&B! The kids had all fallen asleep when the fire alarm went off! Cam and I dashed downstairs to see what was up, if indeed there was a fire. All the other guests came out and were looking for our hostess who had stepped out for a moment and left her phone. Guests were on their cell phones trying to get a hold of someone who would know what to do. The police were called, all the numbers on the listings by the door were called, etc. After five minutes of this and making sure there was no real fire I went back upstairs to make sure the kids were still asleep, they were. Finally, the host showed up and shut off the alarm. Cam and I had heard the family next door banging and jumping up and down and somehow they had jumped so hard it triggered the fire alarm beneath their room to sound. Well, that family wasn't too happy so then Cam and I got to hear them arguing into the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, they left the next day and it was peaceful for the remainder of our time there. Our hostess was very apologetic and felt awful about it all.