Saturday I got my first chance to really go into Dublin. One of my roommates and I took the double-decker blue and yellow bus into St. Stephen's Green. It was a warm day so we walked around the duck pond and then walked to Merrion Square. Merrion Square is a park surrounded by Georgian red brick town homes. The park is full of sculptures and interesting old lamp posts from Dublin. The main attraction is a sculpture of Oscar Wilde reclining on a rock. Oscar Wilde lived at No. 1 Merrion Square until he was about 21 years old. His childhood home has been restored, but unfortunately it is not open to the public (at least so far as I could tell).
Oscar Wilde Statue
We then left Merrion square and walked Northwest along Clare street to the nearby National Gallery. The National Gallery is one of several museums in a compound near Merrion Square. The National Gallery looks a lot bigger than it actually is, which was fine because I was able to see everything without getting museum fatigue. The National Gallery has a collection of Irish painters, including Jack Butler Yeats. I really liked the sunlight in "A Convent Garden, Brittany" by William John Leech. In the European hall there was a small, but good collection of European art including the earliest known painting by Velazquez, an actress painted by Goya, and a Vermeer. The collection was basically a snapshot of European art with one painting by each of the painters I just listed, plus Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Monet. The museum is free and worth the 45 minutes.
After the National Gallery we had lunch at an Italian place called Dunn & Crescenzi. We just happened to run into it and I remembered that one our professors had suggested it earlier. We sat outside and enjoyed one of the rare warm days of the trip. After lunch we went to Trinity College which was just right across the street from where we ate. Trinity College was founded in 1592 and is home to the Book of Kells and a library that contains a copy of every book published in Ireland. The Book of Kells was written around 800 A.D. and contains the four gospels written in Latin. The Book of Kells is highly decorated and full of illuminated text, which is probably why it took the skin of around 180 calves to produce enough vellum for the book. The pages currently on display are a portrait of St. John and the beginning of Jesus' genealogy.
The Cliffs of Moher
On Sunday I made a last minute decision to join a group of UMKC students who drove across Ireland with poor directions and basic maps to see the Cliffs of Moher. Somehow we managed to navigate through rain and a narrow coastal road used by tour buses and make it to The Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher have been the site of various films including The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We arrived in the pouring rain, but after it let up we had beautiful views for about an hour until it started misting again.
After the Cliffs we drove back along the coast for a little while to look at the Burren. The Burren is an area along the coast covered with flat limestone rocks. The rocks are like stepping stones with gaps between them of anywhere from a few inches to a foot or more. We drove another half hour up to Galways for dinner. After dinner we drove back to Dublin on a big, main highway and got in around midnight. Thankfully we didn't have class until Monday afternoon so I was able to take it easy Monday morning.
Yesterday we had class and then some of my roommates and I got dinner at a traditional Irish pub. Today we sat in on trials at the criminal court in Dublin and then had class in the afternoon. It has been a long day and I am looking forward to taking it easy tonight. Friday after class and Saturday I have planned to go into the city and check a few more things of my list including the Jameson Distillery and Kilmainham Jail where leaders of Irish rebellions in 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867, and 1913 were detained.