12 – Ireland 2022


Up as usual at 6am, and at 8:15 Jo arrived and drove us to the airport. We took a Southwest flight to Chicago and then changed planes to go to Boston. The flight to Chicago was only one hour, and to Boston 2 hours, but with all of the waiting in airports it killed most of the day. Then in Boston we took Iceland Air to Reykjavik.


Landed in Reykjavik and changed planes to Dublin. We landed a little after 11 and got a cab to the hotel. We couldn’t check-in until 3pm but they let us store our bags, so we went into the restaurant for lunch, though our bodies thought it was breakfast. Then we took a 2 hour nap. We’ve learned that after these red-eye flights east to Europe you only nap 2 hours then get up again. If you then go to bed at your usual time, you wake up in the morning ready to go. After that it was dinner time. Lyra elected to stay in her room and rest, so Dennis, Eileen, Cheryl, and I headed to the Temple Bar district and found a nice place, the Shack, right across from the Temple Bar, and had a very nice dinner, and Dennis got take-out to bring back to Lyra. It is fantastic having all of this time with family, and catching up in the way you can’t do with just the occasional 20 minute phone call. That was quite enough for all of us, Cheryl and I in particular having traveled for more than 24 hours straight.


Our first full day in Dublin, and full in every sense since we did a lot of things today.. Cheryl, Eileen, and I got up at 6, and went to our breakfast appointment at 7am. Dennis and Lyra got their breakfast at 8:30, but while we waited for them we had a long conversation just catching up on things in our lives.The Breakfast bar is very nice in this hotel, and we were quite well fed. Then we all 5 walked to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the famous Long Room library.


After Trinity College, we split up. Dennis and Lyra went to Dublinia, which is a museum attached to the Christ Church Cathedral. It tells the story of Dublin from the first Viking settlements, through the conflict they had with the Irish, then the Anglo-Norman invasion under Henry II, up through Medieval times to early Renaissance. While they went there, Eileen, Cheryl, and I got lunch at Dublin Castle. Then we went to get tickets for the guided tour only to find the next tour available was at 2:30. It then being around 1, and the Dublinia Museum only a block away, we went there, and met Dennis and Lyra briefly in passing as they were now leaving. We enjoyed this tour, then went to our guided tour of Dublin Castle.


At Dublin Castle we literally started at the bottom, with the original foundation of the Powder Tower, where the gunpowder was stored. Dublin is at the confluence of two rivers. The Liffey is pretty prominent, the other one now runs under ground, and we saw some of that water in the remains of the Moat, which are now in the basement. Above this is the Revenue office, which collects taxes, and where Bram Stoker once worked. He found the job quite boring, and eventually moved to London to become a writer. Then we went to the Chapel, which was once the private chapel of the Lord Leftenant, the official British administrator of Ireland. Of course it was Protestant originally, but it got ¨converted¨ to being Catholic after Independence. Since then it has become de-sacralized and is now used for theatrical and musical productions. A scene from The Tudors was shot here. Then we went into the private residence. The residence was only used for a few months each year, from January 1 to March 17. But several British monarchs have visited, and Queen Victoria visited 4 times. That was not a major accomplishment given the length of her reign, though. We passed through a hall with portraits of all the Presidents of Ireland since Independence, and Eileen noted approvingly that several women have held the office, one of them for a total of 14 years, the maximum allowed. It is nice to know that Ireland is ahead of the U.S. in some respects. The Throne room was built for King George IV, and the throne is pretty large to fit his bulk. Then there is the Drawing Room, which gets its name from Withdrawing. It is where the women would go after dinner, while the men would be smoking cigars and drinking. The furniture here is all in gold paint and red fabric, and the style is Louis XV. Then the Portrait Gallery, which used to be the Dining Room. The mirrors along the outer wall continued under the tables to the floor, and the explanation given was this allowed the ladies to discreetly check that their petticoats did not appear below their skirts in any way. And we learned about the snob appeal of pineapples, which were apparently not eaten, just kept on the table for display. You could even rent one for the evening and return it later. Finally we ended up in the Ballroom, which is where Irish Presidents are sworn in now. On the ceiling are three large paintings with scenes from Irish history, one of them of course portraying Saint Patrick. On the way back we took O’Connell Street, and stopped at the General Post Office to check out the Museum. We were too tired to attempt that today, but got information for a trip later. And Eileen found a T-shirt for one of her lads. She wants to bring back shirts for both of them, and they have to be just right. Walking back I noticed Kevin Barry Memorial Hall, Kevin Barry being the fellow I was named after (look him up on Wikipedia). The Hall is the offices of Sinn Fein, the Irish political party. From there we went back to the hotel where Eileen and Cheryl lay down, and I got a cup of tea and wrote my diary entry.

While we were relaxing, Dennis scouted out some nearby restaurants, and we walked over to what passes for Chinatown here to get some Chinese food, before heading back to the hotel for a cup of tea and conversation before bed.



Up again for a leisurely breakfast in the Hotel, and then we checked out and got a cab to head to Connelly Station to get the train to Belfast. That only took a couple of hours, and we joined a nice young man who was traveling Europe backpacking and staying in hostels and a tent. In  Belfast, we got to the Hotel Europa before check-in time, so dropped our bags and got lunch before checking in and going to our rooms. Then, while the others rested, Eileen and I went for a walk around downtown Belfast. We located a good restaurant, The Lantern, and went back to the hotel to join the others. One thing we are discovering is that text messaging is very hit-or-miss on this trip, so we have to actually make plans with people in advance sometimes. But we got the group together and had dinner, then back to the hotel for tea before bed.



Up again at 6 then down to breakfast at 7. We have plans for today.

We first picked up tickets to the hop on/hop off bus, and took that to the Titanic Experience. This came as part of our tour package, and while we were all looking forward to it, Lyra took a nasty fall and she and Dennis went back to the hotel. So it was Cheryl, Eileen and I who went on. It turned out to be a very interesting exhibition that started with the development of Belfast as an industrial center, through the shipbuilding industry, and up to the design and building of the Titanic. We got a short movie taking us from the keel up to the bridge showing what it was like, and then on to the fateful night. Finally we saw actual footage of the ship as it lies on the sea floor, discovered by Bob Ballard, and the debris field of items that fell from the ship as it sank. All in all, it was a good two hours or more of exhibition. When we were done, we got back on the hop on/hop off bus, and split up. Eileen wanted to do some shopping, while Cheryl and I rode it back to Belfast City Hall. We got to see some of the historical sights, including those from “The Troubles”, but it was not quite the tour experience I might have hoped for. I think there were better seats, but they got snapped up right away, so I didn’t get any pictures from the tour. After a bit of shopping, We got back to the hotel to prepare for our next adventure, the Belfast Traditional Music Trail.


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