So Day 3 I had a full-ish day planned. I was going to a matinee at the Abbey Theatre at 2:00, but before that I was going to swing by Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and then either right before or after the Abbey, was going to try again to do the Guinness tour. It did not happen exactly like this, however ;) I left the hostel and found a place to grab a quick bite of something Irish and breakfast-y (coffee and soda bread--well, coffee is MODERN Irish, tea would've been more traditional but apparently coffee has been quite a hit there in the past few years). Left the breakfast place and within a block got caught up--quite literally--in a massive protest.
Hundreds--thousands--of Dubliners angry about the austerity cuts were descending on the General Post Office (GPO) to protest the cuts. I was rather quickly surrounded by them, including some very nice Irishmen who answered all my questions and were not only very well-informed about their own politics but had some thoughtful comments about American politics as well. One younger guy was telling me what I should tell Obama (I'm all "uh, sure"), that "he needs to use his position as President to push his platform more..." I started to utter a phrase to sum up what he meant, a quintessentially American phrase--and then HE said it, "he needs to make use of the bully pulpit." I was truly impressed that he knew that phrase--furthermore, I agreed with what he was saying! We had a chat about American politics and what was happening right in front of us (lots of slogans and placards, different speakers speaking). What makes this especially interesting is that the GPO is a powerful symbol of Irish history--the Easter Rising in 1916 took place there. Lots of parallels between past and present history--their economic collapse is also due to a property bubble.
Erin Go Bragh!
After this energizing experience, I extricated myself from the crowd and made my way to the Abbey.
This is THE face of theater in Ireland, a legend--YEATS premiered a play there, for God's sake! I saw fascinating play called Freefall
--interestingly they didn't have programs (I think that's a British thing) so I bought one which turned out to be the script. It was actually pretty confusing, so this helped quite a bit.
Right after the play I made my way as quickly as I could over to Trinity College to see my Must See for Dublin--the Book of Kells. This is an old, incredibly beautiful illuminated manuscript from the Dark Ages, created by Irish monks and preserved from the ravages of the Vikings. They had a terrific exhibit on it that explicated so much, including breaking breaking down exactly what they went through to produce a book at that time (obviously copied by hand, on calf vellum--they have it worked out to four anonymous scribed, by their handwriting). I was staring at the book, and thinking 12 hundred years ago this was written by some anonymous person--his hand touched these pages, his hand created this script. Whatever he was feeling or experiencing may have affected why this letter was written with this flourish, or why there was a mistake on that word. And before THAT--a calf was raised that would ultimately give its life for this page in this book. A farmer raised that calf, fed it, took care of it--if it had been fed differently, the page might've looked a different color.
I would've loved to have taken pictures but it wasn't allowed, understandably so. While I was in the exhibit I could hear, not-so-faintly, in the entrance area (in the Library bookstore) some American girl going on and on about "I just--this is my LIFE, my HERITAGE, don't you understand? My family...." and on in this vein. which--well, made me cringe. Look, I get that visiting Ireland is a moving experience but can you keep it down? This is a museum; we're all trying to take in this incredible thing in front of us.
Upon exiting from the Book exhibit, you then go through the Old Library Long Room--it's a long hall, which included an exhibit on the 1641 Depositions
. As I was bending over to read the placards, I could hear American Girl again--she'd also gone through the Kells exhibit and now she was talking, loudly, with her boyfriend and some woman who obviously worked there and who therefore should've known better. American Girl was telling the woman, loudly, about her background and her Irish grandmother and red hair in her family and how her boyfriend (she called him a "ginger") and she were going to have red-haired kids and I don't know what all. She was LOUD. Oddly for all her talk about how Irish she was, she didn't look it at all--dark-complected with curly dark hair. Intensely annoying as this was, it gets worse--she pulled out a camera and took a picture. A museum worker, a man, BOLTED up the stairs and told her "I said NO PICTURES. You said you didn't have any more shots left." She said something and started to go exit down the stairs with BF and then, incredibly, took ANOTHER picture. Someone yelled up something from below stairs and she said airily "Sorry, thanks you guys, luv ya."
I felt very stabby. Like, it's not just that you're embarrassing me as a fellow American, it's not just that you're loud and rude and inappropriate. You're also ENDANGERING THESE TEXTS. They're old
, and incredibly fragile. You want a picture? BUY A POSTCARD. Unbelievable.
After this I really--sadly--had no time for the Guinness tour. *Sadface* So I figured I'd go shopping--luckily Grafton Street (major shopping section) was very close by, so I made my way through there. I hit a Marks and Spencer (Christmas gifts for my Mom) and a couple of other shops, and found an adorable boutique
where I put together a cute lil' twinset and had a lovely, long conversation with the two girls. It's always so interesting to get an insider's view--they think Dublin is small, that "everybody knows everybody." And when I told them about the Book of Kells they were all "Oh, I haven't seen that since the third grade." I recommended a few places in NYC for them to shop the next time they're here.
I walked back over the bridge to the hostel and got this lovely shot.