Day 2 in Dublin – The Old Library and a City Wander

Day 2 continued…

We had just finished admiring the amazing Book of Kells, then it was upstairs for more history and, of course, more books! This is the Long Room – the main chamber of the Old Library at Trinity College.

Just walking into the Long Room, we had to stop right in the doorway. We were in awe! Besides being absolutely gorgeous, with its barrel vaulted ceilings and its rows and rows of books, there was that distinctive and lovely “old books” smell. I’m sure there are some of you out there who know exactly what I mean! You probably just smiled and sighed contently.

The Long Room was originally built in the early 1700’s. Since this library is a “legal deposit library”, it can obtain a copy of every book published in Ireland and the UK, which explains the enormous collection that is housed here. Eventually the library’s collection outgrew its original space. So in the late 1800’s, a second level was added to make more room for bookshelves and books!

Around the library are marble busts of some renowned writers and philosophers, such as Jonathan Swift, Aristotle, Homer, Plato and Shakespeare. I like to imagine they are staring down at us and hoping to inspire our next generation of great thinkers and writers.

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I absolutely love this little book-filled alcove – with the window, the little window seat, the floor to ceiling bookshelf and, of course, the books. I would love to have a little nook exactly like this in my house one day – complete with the ladders!!

And, look at this gorgeous spiral staircase! (Another one for the dream house!)

In the library, there are also other historical and national treasures. Like this important historical document – one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Another highlight is the Trinity College Harp or the Brian Boru’s Harp, which is said to be one of the oldest surviving Gaelic harps in the world. There are also some illuminated manuscripts on display in the Long Room. These are good compliments to the Book of Kells exhibition that we had seen earlier.

We just couldn’t help feeling inspired and awed in the presence of such history, literature and precious historical and literary treasures. This is the perfect place to visit for those of you who are interested in literature, history and those wanting to see a beautiful library! We love our photographs but they do not do it justice. You really have to be there to experience it – and to take a whiff of the old books smell. 😉

We absolutely could have spent the whole day there, just wandering the Long Room, sitting on the benches, enjoying the old library smell, but we had to move on!

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~~~~~

We decided to wander around Dublin for the rest of the day.

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We headed out of Trinity College and somehow (without even consulting a map!) found ourselves on Grafton Street.

  

Grafton Street is famous for its shopping and its buskers. For me, I remember Grafton Street most for being the setting of the movie Once – which tells the story of a Grafton Street busker and the girl who inspires him to continue pursuing his music. We did see a number of buskers while walking down Grafton Street, including these guys who played some great music!

As for the shopping… It was just some window shopping 😉

That is, until we spotted a Disney store! Some of you will know that we are big Disney fans! We knew there was a Disney store on Grafton Street, so we had to make a stop. We wanted to see whether they would have any special Dublin-only merchandise!

Turns out they had a cute “Mickey and Minnie in Dublin” tee, so that became our Dublin souvenir!

We even met a friend – Anna!

After our Disney visit, we wandered into Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, where we picked up some small souvenirs and a picnic lunch.

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We took our picnic lunch across the street to St. Stephen’s Green, to enjoy the great outdoors. We found a nice patch of grass and ate our lunch in the view of this picturesque house. We still have no idea what this house is! Anyone out there know?

Then we continued our wee city wander. We loved the colourful doors of Dublin! It was like everyone could express themselves through the colours of their front door. We saw reds, dark blues, bright almost-turquoise blues, purples, blacks, yellows, greens… We have very boring doors in Vancouver – looks like this is another thing to add to my dream house list!

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We spent some time walking through the Natural History Museum. We even came across the beautiful and imposing Government Buildings.

After a long day of walking, we were ready to put our feet up for a little while. So we made a quick stop at the supermarket and headed back to the hostel for our simple dinner.

While we were at the supermarket, we found a little piece of home – Molson Canadian beer.

We didn’t get the Molson Canadian – we could get that at home. Instead, we tried an Irish cider and it was good – crisp and fruity. To go with the cider, we picked up some bread and cheese, carrot sticks, the most delicious caramelized onion hummus and some yogurt for dessert!

After our simple but tasty dinner, we headed back out to explore Dublin at night! We loved that it was so lively, with people packed into pubs, live music and singing spilling out onto the cobblestoned streets and it wasn’t even a Friday or Saturday night. The atmosphere was lively, infectious and we loved it!

Here are our favourite photographs from that evening.

Ha’penny Bridge

O’Connell Bridge

Get ready for an epic Day 3 – it may or may not involve some Guinness and whiskey! 😉

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

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Day 2 in Dublin – The Book of Kells

After an exciting first day in Dublin, we were excited to explore some more! We had originally planned to visit Trinity College to see the Old Library and the world famous Book of Kells on Day 2.


But since the walking tour on our first day in Dublin ended at Trinity College, we thought we would be flexible and swap our Day 1 and Day 2 activities around. Unfortunately, they were closed at that time (rumour was they were turning the pages of the Book of Kells), so we had to go with our original plan and return the next day for a proper visit.

We started our second day in Dublin with a brisk morning walk from our hostel to Trinity College.

Trinity College is a world renowned university that was established in 1592. Although admission was quite exclusive in the past – you had to be Protestant and male, now you see female and male scholars of all ethnic groups and religions at Trinity College. Trinity College is home to the Old Library, built in the 1700’s. Within the Old Library are the famous Book of Kells and the gorgeous Long Room.


The Book of Kells is a beautiful illuminated manuscript, containing the 4 gospels of the bible. Every figure and letter on each page was carefully and artistically drawn by hand over 1000 years ago! There are many theories as to how the Book of Kells came to be. The manuscript may have been created completely or partially at a monastery on the island of Iona in Scotland. Then to protect the manuscript from Viking raids, it was taken to the Abbey of Kells in Co. Meath, Ireland. The Book of Kells would remain at the Abbey until it was taken to Dublin for safekeeping in 1654. It was then given to Trinity College in 1661. This precious, beautifully decorated manuscript draws hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly.

Fortunately for us, when we got there on Day 2, the Library was open for visitors. And there wasn’t even a queue!

We paid for our tickets at the door – €10 for an adult ticket. The ticket includes admission to see the Book of Kells, as well as entry to the Long Room in the Old Library. You can also purchase your tickets online ahead of time. These online “Fast-Track” tickets, €13 for an adult ticket, allow you to get in straight away, without waiting in the queue.

We were lucky there was no queue when we went, or we might have been waiting a long while. If you are visiting during high season, it might be worth while to get your fast-track tickets online. This could save you some time and allow you to experience Dublin, instead of spending your time waiting in a queue. But if you don’t buy the fast-track tickets and end up stuck in a queue, get to know your fellow visitors and it will make your queuing time feel shorter and you might come out of it with some new friends! 🙂

Once inside, we walked through an exhibition called “Turning Darkness into Light.” This was a great introduction to the Book of Kells and other similar illuminated manuscripts. Besides just a history lesson, the exhibition’s displays and videos told of the people behind these manuscripts – the lives of the scribes and artists who created these beautiful works of art. It spoke of their art and what they used in their craft – from the vellum (calfskin) to the colourful pigments that they used in their illustrations. It also had on display enlarged photographs of various illustrations from the Book of Kells, along with descriptions and explanations of the figures, meanings and symbolism behind them, which was very interesting and helpful. I don’t think I would have caught all of that on my own.

Finally, we walked into the Treasury and saw 2 of the 4 volumes of the Book of Kells on display. One volume was opened to a major decorated page, while the other was opened to script. It is said that the pages are turned regularly, so the next time you visit, you might be viewing a different page and a different illustration – which I think is pretty cool!

Just looking at the 2 open pages of a volume overwhelmed me with a sense of wonder! The amount of thought and detail that went into every single item on the page astonished me, from the colours and designs of each illustration to each carefully drawn letter on the page. It amazes me to think about how advanced these artists and scribes were – how they were able to accomplish so much with their bare hands and with no “modern” technology to help. I admired their artwork that much more!

Of course, photography was not allowed inside the treasury, so we do not have any photographs to share with you. But with today’s technology, they have scanned and photographed pages of the Book of Kells. This website allows you to browse through the pages of the manuscript and admire the artwork. Zoom in and check out the details, from the Celtic motifs on a border to the expression of a person’s face – it really is amazing! In a way, I think seeing the pages of the Book of Kells online is really cool – you get to see more than just the pages on display and you can zoom in and out to marvel at the illustrations. Having said that though, nothing compares to actually being in the room with this fascinating treasure!

Next up is more on history, literature and books, as we wander upstairs to the Long Room. Stay tuned for more in our next post!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!