September, 2nd to 19th, 2007
Sunday, September 2’nd
It’s just about 300 DKR for a return-ticket on Ryanair between Billund and Dublin. That’s damn cheap. This can’t be good business for them. Of course there is no food on board – but nevertheless.
We arrive in Dublin shortly before 4 pm. Dublin airport is efficient, so I’m just able to reach the bus at 4.20 to Northern Ireland and Belfast. Off we go, and it’s Belfast 2 hours later.
From Europe Buscentre I take a taxi to Elms Village – my home for the next few days. It’s just in the outskirts of the University area. Usually it’s accommodation for students, but during summer they rent for tourists as well.
There’s time for a short stroll up and down Malone Road. Weather is nice. Here you find the huge Queens University, the major university of Northern Ireland. It was established by Queen Victoria in 1845 and has around 24.000 students. A short walk from here there’s a typical fish’n’chips-joint. I almost forgot the disgusting taste of it. On the way back to Elms Village I shop at a petrol-station for some Coffee and today’s newspaper. Then there’s something to do at room 107 for the night, when there’s no TV.
Monday, September 3’rd
Belfast is not a very huge place. There are about 500.000 people living here, and it’s easy to get around. From most places you can see the green hills surrounding the city.
I take a walk 2-3 km. to Belfast Center around Donegal Square. Here is the City Hall, a very fine building from 1906. The locals have named it the nicest building in Northern Ireland in a referendum. Outside there’s a statue of Queen Victoria looking gloomy. Like she wants to tell who is in charge.
On the other side of the road you will find Linen Hall Library. It’s a library who has specialized in literature about the Northern Ireland conflict. There’s also a nice café.
Further on a little north though different shopping-streets to High Street. Between High Street and Ann Street you will find The Entries, some small alleys. This part of the city is the oldest of Belfast, but was ruined during WW2 and later rebuilt.
I head onwards for Queens Square and the Albert Memorial Clock Tower. This is the Belfast answer to the leaning tower of Pisa, except for the leaning is only a few yards, and quite impossible to see with your own eyes.
Further on to the other side of River Lagan. I cross the river via Lagan Weir, a walkway across the river where some huge steel doors control the water level of the river. On the other side is the Odyssey-complex, which is a huge entertainment-center. A little further out you can see the Harland & Wolff shipyard. That’s where Titanic was built, but nevertheless they still build ships out there.
I head back to the other side of the river, and the area known as Cathedral Quarter. Here is the largest church in Belfast – The St. Anne’s Cathedral – which they started to build in 1899 and finished in 1981. There is no tower at the church, but instead a very spectacular golden spire. A little further north is the beautiful Clifton House.
Now I head south again. On the long way back I pass the Grand Opera House. It opened in 1895, but was damaged by IRA-bombs in 1991 and 1993. Rumors are that the place was bombed, because all journalists stayed at the hotel next door, so they could cover the event without leaving the bar. On the other side of the road is the oldest pub in Belfast called The Crown Liquor Saloon.
From here there’s another 3 km. back to Elms Village.
Second trip of the day is much shorter. I take a short walk to the botanical garden very close to the university. A very fine park it is.
On to “The Globe”, a local pub with a good offer. “A pint and a meal” for 5 £ is not a bad end to the day.
Tuesday, September 4’Th
“The Troubles” they call it – the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants, the republicans and the loyalists, between IRA and the empire – or how you want to put it. “The Troubles” now seem to be history – today’s theme is The Troubles.
I start up with a bus to city-center and Donegal Square. From there I walk via Castle Street and Divis Street to the catholic center of West-Belfast known as Falls Road. On the way I pass the concrete building of Divis Tower. The security-forces stayed on the top floors with a good view across most of West-Belfast, including Falls Road – and the Protestants area at Shankill Road. Further on I see the one end of the Peace-line – an ugly fence departing the 2 areas. Let’s hope this will go the same way as its cousin in Berlin.
Falls Road is a lively local shopping-street these days. But there are still plenty of symbols. There’s the Remembrance-garden for the “heroes” of the IRA. And there are plenty of murals, mainly supporting the hunger-strikers IRA-terrorists – or war-heroes as they like to call them – that died in Maze-Prison block H in 1981-82. The most famous was Bobby Sands, who was elected as MP when he was in jail.
At the end of Falls Road there are 2 cemeteries. One of them is called Milltown. Here the hunger strikers from block H are buried. After taking a look around here and lunch at a local pub I take the bus back to the center.
This is a balanced trip, so I also have to see the other side. It’s called Shankill Road, and is in fact pretty close to Falls Road – divided by a highway and the peace-line. As Falls Road Shankill Road is a local community shopping-street. There are murals here as well. These are about the UFF – the Protestants answer to the IRA. And there are a lot of flags around – British flags, Scottish flags, and Welsh flags – all the flags of the empire. They want to signal that Northern Ireland is a part of the empire – and not occupied by the kingdom as the other side would put it. One of the more weird murals in this area is one of the Queen-mother occupying one side of a Subway-restaurant.
From the end of Shankill Road I head back by bus to the city-center – and from there a no. 8 back to Elms Village. 2’nd trip of the day is a short walk to “The Globe” – and the good dinner-offer they’ve got down there.
Wednesday, September 5’Th
Bye-bye Belfast, and with route 252 the scenic route along the Antrim coast to Giants Causeway. The trip takes 3 hours and we pass towns like Ballycastle, Ballytoy, Ballycarry, Ballygally, Ballypatrick and Ballyvoy.
Shortly after 12 we arrive at the doorstep of the Causeway Hotel. I get inside and get the key to room 107. And that’s a nice room. It’s huge, there’s a TV, tea- and coffee, and my own little front-yard with a view across the Atlantic Ocean and the green hills of Antrim.
I’m hungry, but that’s not a problem. The pub “The Nook” is just outside. That’s a good place for some lunch and a pint, while a musician is playing “traditional Irish Music”.
Then it’s off to the sight of the place – the geological mystery of Giants Causeway. I take a detour-walk via the top of the cliffs, with great views downhill. At another geological mystery called The Organ you can go down to the lower path, which I follow to another look-out, before heading back towards Giants Causeway. But as I’m furthest away it starts to rain – a lot.
There’s nothing else to do, than return back to the hotel. It takes about 30 seconds for this drowned mouse to pass the Giants Causeway before heading up to the hotel. So now room 107 is especially nice. A few cups of coffee, some dry clothes and a little nap – and suddenly life are worth living again.
At 5 it has cleared and I can go downhill to take a second – and longer – look at Giants Causeway. It is made out of about 40.000 stones shaped like octagonal; standing close together making it some of the weirdest thing I have ever seen. You can walk on top of them if you are a little careful – of course they are still slippery.
There a different theories about the place. Some say it was made of volcanic activity 60 million. Years ago – but that’s the boring theory. I tend to prefer another theory, that it was the Irish giant Finn MacColl that built the causeway to go to Scotland to fight the Scottish giant Benandonner. When he got there, Benandonner was sleeping and Finn saw the other guy was much bigger. So he went back to Ireland. Benandonner got pissed by this, and went to Ireland instead. But the wife of Finn heard that he was coming and dressed Finn as a baby – and when Benandonner came he was quite surprised to see the size of a giant-baby – and certainly didn’t want to meet the real giant – and he retreated for Scotland again – pulling most parts of the causeway up on the way back, to make sure Finn would not be able to reach him anymore.
Thursday, September 6’Th
There are a few more sights around. Route 402 – or the Antrim Rambler – will take me there on a day-ticket. First stop is Carrick-a-Rede – or the rope bridge leading to Carrick-a-Rede. It’s a small one – 20 m long – 1 m wide – hanging 30 m above sea level. If you are afraid of heights – don’t go there. Usually it wasn’t meant for tourist, but for the local fisherman, that used the bridge for putting up nets for caching salmon passing between the small island of Carrick-a-Rede and the mainland. That’s how they did it for 200 years.
A few hours later 402 take me to the other end of the route – to Bushmills. It's a small town with a nice distillery. Bushmill was allowed by King James I to produce Whisky back in 1608. Well – in fact they’ve done it for a few hundred years before that, but that was illegal.
There’s a very nice tour. You get to see the whole production, packing etc. It hurts to see something go wrong during packing, and see them put 20-30 good bottles of whisky into the sink. It is also worth mentioning that Bushmills won the prestigious title as “Loo of the year 2006”.
You end up in the tasting-room – well that’s what we are here for anyone. I test a 10 year old single-malt. The bartender is not happy about my suggestion about ice – but a little sip of water is ok.
Then it’s back to the hotel, where the rest of the day is for relaxing – and today’s newspaper – Ballymoney Times.
Friday, September 7’Th
Bye-bye Giants Causeway. I'm leaving at 11 on route 172 to Colerain. From there it’s a train to Derry/Londonderry.
What you call the city is determined by religion. If you are a catholic it’s Derry – If you are a protestant it’s Londonderry – if you don’t care you can call it Slash-city.
Outside the railway station there’s no bus or no taxi. So I take for a walk to my B&B Saddlers House. Here I get the keys for room 5. It’s pretty small but very cozy – with the best TV-chair on the trip.
Of we go for a closer look at Derry. It's mainly in the city-center and on top of the 2 km long city-wall around central parts of Derry. The wall was built between 1614 and 1619. There are 4 original gates, and then 3 made later. The gates were in use as late as “The Troubles” to keep people aside.
The major part of Derry is catholic and Irish. On one side of the wall is Bogside, the main catholic part – on the other side a small protestant community called Fountain. It can be recognized by the colors on the curbs – red, white and blue – like Union Jack.
Along the wall there’s also some interesting building. Like the Guildhall. It was built in 1890, but IRA bombed it a few times in 1972. Now it’s is restored and looks like a fine church. Unfortunately it is closed for the day as I get there.
A little bit about the weather by the way. It’s very nice – but better than you could expect. It's 23 degrees Celsius today – according to the locals the best summer day this year. Sometimes you have to be lucky.
Saturday, September 8’Th
Plans for today were to take a bus to the northern part of Donegal, Ireland – known as Malin Head. But we are outside tourist-season, so there are no busses this weekend. That gives me an extra day in Derry, but that really doesn’t matter.
First stop is the nice and “award-winning” Tower Museum. They seem to love awards in this country. It’s a nice museum though telling the dramatic story about Derry. It’s about English occupation, Irish civil war, hunger, the escape to America and of course The Troubles. Yes – a few things has happened here.
Second tour of the day is Bogside, the catholic area west of the city wall. This was where Bloody Sunday took place on January 30’Th 1972, where 14 demonstrators were killed by the British armed forces. It was also in this neighborhood the problems between the catholic’s and the British were toughest during the 70’s and the 80’s. Now the area has been renovated, but you will still find your murals around. Most of them are about Bloody Sunday. And of course you will find the most famous of all monuments from “The Troubles” – the words “You are now entering Free Derry” painted on the side of a house. The house has gone – but the wall with the words is still here.
Rest of the day is at Saddlers House, and a few football-matches on the TV. The dog Bertie guards the place. The only time I have seen the dog move, was when it just slightly lifted the left eye-brow when I arrived. The host seems to believe that in case of a burglary Bertie would sleep right through it.
Sunday, September 9’Th
The book on this trip is Pete McCarthy’s funny “McCarthys Bar”. It’s also about a travel around Ireland. This morning I read this sentence “I will go outside, wander around aimlessly and see what happens”. That is what I will do today.
But honestly – I’m a bit on the lazy side today. Maybe inspired by Bertie, that spends his whole day sleeping at the B&B. You have to take a little care of the stupid dog – he sleeps everywhere – even on the stairway – and if unlucky you might risk stepping on him – well he probably wouldn’t notice. And if you here a strange sounds in the hallway – down worry – it’s just Bertie snoring.
2 small walks are what I do today. First I take a decent walk along River Foyle and later at more uninspired walk around Derry City Center. I even go to the local shopping-mall. Lunch and Dinner at a local pub that is almost as personal as a McDonald – but they have a good offer – and as you might have found out, I’m a good fan of good offers. “A roast and a pint” for £ 5.99.
Back at Saddlers its time for some book reading and Formula 1 and World Cup Rugby on the TV. There’s a lot of fuzz about the Rugby among the Irish – at the pub they were watching one of the matches cheering their heroes - against Somalia or something – no sorry Namibia it was..
Monday, September 10’Th
Bye-bye Derry and Northern Ireland. I'm leaving with Bus Eireann at 7.20 – without breakfast – for Galway and Ireland.
The trip takes 5 hours through the fine views of Donegal. The trip ends right next to my hotel, the 4-starred Hotel Meyrick. Much more fancy than my normal places, but they had a good 2-day offer – and it’s my birthday tomorrow. Room 301 is nice. A huge bed, coffee- and tee-things, and a small desk for the computer I haven’t got another table for the coffee, paintings on the wall and a flat screen-TV – and an enormous bathroom with the special feature of the possibility of internet-access beside the toilet.
Out to take a look around. This is not only Ireland – this is also tourist-country. There’s a lot of tourist, and a lot of Americans on the “see 14 European countries in 12 days tour”. They tend to stay in the main streets in the city-center, so if you just keep away from them, it’s a nice and decent town.
There are not that many sights in Galway. I get to see St. Nicholas church, which dates back from 1320. Christopher Columbus took a peek inside back in 1477. You can also see the grave of James Lynch a former mayor of Galway in the 15’Th century. He sentenced his own son to his death for killing a Spanish visitor. And no-one wanted to make the execution, since the son was a nice person who just made this mistake being a little jealous. So his father had to take care of that part as well. Rumors are that Mr. Lynch went a little ga-ga after this experience.
I also visit Galway Cathedral. It is huge, and if you want to you can confess your sins. I think there was something with a bishop at this place, which should try that.
It is clear to everyone that things are going good in Galway. All shops are looking for employees. Economy is growing fast, and when you talk to the persons at the shops and café’s they speak fluently English – but when they talk to each other its Polish or Russian. That’s quite funny in a country that used to send most of its population overseas to America or England.
Tuesday, September 11’Th
The day starts with a “where the feet bring you”-tour. This morning they bring me across River Carrib via Wolfe Tone Bridge, to a small nature reserve along Galway Bay. I can spot an island, with a lighthouse and an embankment going out there. So I head for this place. There are signs telling you where to walk and not to walk, but just as I approach the island there’s a huge sign telling people not to go on any further. That’s not nice, but it could be a prison or some kind of military thing. But it hardly makes sense.
In the afternoon I head for the races at Galway Racecourse. There are normal flat-races and steeplechase-races this afternoon. I mainly spend the time by looking at the all the people – and especially the area around the bookmakers is fun to watch. The all keep a close eye of what is going on, and is constantly checking the odds on the other side of the ring. And for the gamblers this is a market that works– if odds are better on the other side, you just go for your betting there.
I only spend a few Euros. I try 5 Euro on Windbeneathmywing in the first race – because I like the name. It’s a close second to odds 7:1. In the third race I go for the favorite Perfect Memory at 7:2. Its way off the pace, as they head for finish, so I decide this is not my day for betting, and spends the rest of the afternoon by just looking.
At 6.30 I head back to the hotel. There’s a close to formal dinner tonight, included in the room-price, so I have to give it a go. It’s in the fancy restaurant with all the American tourists – but honestly – I think the pub next door would have been nicer.
Wednesday, September 12’Th
I’ve got plenty of time this morning, since I’m heading on at noon. At 12 I take the bus for Rossaveal. It takes about an hour. The ferry to Inishmore – the largest of the Aran Islands – leaves at 1 pm. I have been there once before on a day-trip. It was windy and rainy, but the place impressed me in a way, so I promised myself to return when I got the chance. And that is what I have got now. I have booked 3 nights at Kelly House in the outskirts of the largest town on Inishmore called Kilronan.
Inishmore is made out of stone – limestone. It’s about 14 km long and 4 km wide at the widest place. The north side of the island turns nicely into the water, but the Southside is spectacular with huge cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
They have been trying to make things grow on the island, but it’s only partly successful. But here and there some cows, horses and goats are able to find a little grass. To make this possible they have for generation gathered the stones and build small stone-fences all over the island. There are literally thousands of stone-fences.
I soon get a chance to take a closer look at that. My first trip is from Kelly House via Kilronan to the northern part of the Island. The trip takes me via stony roads to sight no. 9 on the map I got when boarding the ferry. The sight is Dún Dúchachair – the Black Fort. These are the ruins of an old fort very close to the cliffs. The views are amazing. I’m nearly the only tourist here this afternoon, since this place is not on the tourist-trail because you have to walk to long. A single guy shows up on a bike while I’m out there. Down below the cliffs you can hear the Atlantic Ocean hammering the Island. But if you walk just 20 feet backwards – there’s no sound at all – totally silence. That’s weird – and amazing.
It’s hard to leave this place but you have to do it. So I try to find sight no. 10 Teampall Bheanain – Saint Benan’s church – which should be close by. But I can’t find my way up there. It’s supposed to be the smallest church in the world 3.7 x 1.8 meter. Could that be the reason I can’t find it? When I give up the hope, I suddenly see it top of a hill, but I can’t find the way up there – so I have to see it in the distance instead.
Dinner is a “ping-dinner” at a restaurant in Kilronan. The term “ping-dinner” is stolen from my Pete McCarthy book, and is called so because dinner is ready when the microwave goes “ping”. On the way back home I also have a pint at Joe Watty’s bar, close to my B&B. Here in September, at 8 in the evening, in the middle (almost) of the Atlantic Ocean you can sit outside to enjoy your pint. That was certainly not possible last time I was here.
Thursday, September 13’Th
This is a real B&B breakfast. It’s the traditional meal and the traditional chat with the host Mary and the only other person staying here. People has different interests. The other guy is going to Stockholm next week to see the Jussi Björling museum. I don’t really know who this guy Jussi is, but my guess is that he plays the violin. He turns out to be an opera-singer – well I’m not very cultural.
Mary has made small cookies for this day trip – and a long one it’s going to be. There is app. 7 km to Dún Aengus (sight no. 5). It take’s about 2 hours to get there through the small roads. I meet 2 cars, 3 bikes and a single tractor on the road, so not many people around today. I also pass a seal-colony (sight no. 8), where some seals lie down enjoying life. One of them believes he’s a dolphin, swimming around and jumping into the air.
And of course – all the way – there are stone fences and cows in case you feel a little lonely.
There are more people at Dún Aengus. Dún Aengus is a so-called semi-circular fort. It’s probably “semi” because it’s right out at the cliffs so if they didn’t make it semi, they should have built it over the water. It’s presumed to have been built be the Celtics about 2000 b.c. The inner circle is made out plenty layers of stone. Outside this circle there’s another one with a higher wall, to keep potential attackers away. So there has probably been a little society inside, but they did have a problem, because there was no drinking water on the place. How they have solved that one is a mystery. It’s a fantastic place at a fantastic location. Last time I was here it was raining cats and dogs. Today the weather is perfect. A little cloudy, but just as I reach the place the sun comes out.
You have to take a little care at the place. This is nature, and in nature there are no fences at the cliffs. I spend a few hours out here, before heading back the 7 km on foot to Kelly House.
Back home there is more traffic, because all the day-tours from Galway has arrived. They get toured on minibuses and carriages. Some of them are on hired bikes from Aran Bikes (sight no. 1 – and of course the publisher of the sightseeing-map). On one time back home there’s suddenly a traffic-jam. There is a carriage and 3 bikes in one direction – and a minibus and me in the other.
Down by seals some people are looking for them – they are supposed to be there – sight no. 8 can’t just disappear. But the tide is high, so the banks they are using are under water, and they have temporarily left for somewhere else. I’m back at Kelly’s at 4 pm – pretty much tired.
Dinner and pint is therefore only a short walk away – at Joe Watty’s pub.
Friday, September 14’Th
14 km’s walk yesterday was a bit on the long side – so today I will calm down a little. Today’s walk is for the highest point on Inishmore. It takes about an hour to get there. On the top I find sight no. 4 Dún Árann lighthouse. It’s not in use anymore, but there’s a great view from the spot. Just beside there’s another circular stone-fort named Dún Eochia. It’s not as big as Dún Aengus, but it’s totally circular, since there are no cliffs here. The number of tourists here is small. I think there’s about 8-10of us. It’s a bit off the beaten track since the minibuses and the carriages can’t get up here – you have to be on bike or by foot.
The walk down is really nice. I walk by footpaths along the stone-fences. The path is nice, but to bumpy for the bikes. They must jump off and walk. The path leads all the way to Kilronan. I think that’s another hour by foot.
Lunchtime is in Kilronan, before I head back for Kelly’s for a little relaxation.
Later there is time for a short walk in Kilronan and along the coast. You can see the tourist-season is close to finishing for this year. Most of the restaurants have closed down for the year, and most of the busses and carriages that awaits the arrival of the ferry at the quay must leave empty-handed. There are not enough tourists for everyone.
The locals and the tourists also seem to disagree on the weather. The local kids still go for a swim at the harbor, while the Italian tourists are wearing ski-jackets and hats.
Dinner is at a burger bar in Kilronan with a slot-machine. I don’t know how these machines work in this place, but nevertheless I leave with 10 Euros more than I put in the thing.
Saturday, September 15’Th
Mary has prepared the breakfast for 7 am, because I have to reach the ferry for Rossaveal at 8.30. From Rossaveal there’s a bus for Galway, where I hurry to the bus-terminal to reach the 10.30 to Dublin.
Then there’s an annoying 4 hour bus-ride before I jump off just in the city-center at a bus stop by the River Liffey.
From there it’s a short walk to one of the greatest sights in Dublin – the Trinity Collage. This sight has got that special quality, which I will be staying there for the rest of this vacation. Like in Belfast the university rents out for tourist during summer, and I have been lucky to get a room. So I pick up the key-card to room 47.1.04 which get’s me into a very nice and useful room.
Trinity Collage is the most prestigious in Ireland. It was established by Elizabeth I in 1592. At that time, it was in the outskirts of the city. But the city has grown much bigger, and now it’s smack downtown. Until 1793 only Protestants were allow to study here. These days most of the 13.000 students are Catholics, even though the Catholic Church actually didn’t allow it’s supporters to go for this university until 1970.
The major Irish Tourist-trap is also here. “The Book of Kells” is an illustrated version of the New Testament. It was made about year 800 a.c. It is on show here, and I saw it last time I was in Dublin. Or rather – I saw one page – from a distance – for about 5-10 seconds – after queuing for hours. I won’t do that mistake this time – The Book of Kells will not have my visit this time.
Instead I go to see a bit more of Dublin. This is very different just arriving from Inishmore. Temple Bar is just beside Trinity Collage, so I find myself a decent pub, get myself some pub-grub and a pint, and watch 2’nd half of a football-match. Temple Bar is not that big, so it’s slowly moving onto the other side of River Liffey via the new pedestrian-bridge called Millennium Bridge. The rest of the day is spent walking around Dublin center. You have to walk a little faster here than on Inishmore, or else you will be overtaken all the time.
Sunday, September 16’Th
It’s breakfast at Trinity Collage Dininghall. It’s a nice place from 1743 with large tables and paintings of the old masters on the wall.
Then it’s off to see a bit more of Dublin. I have brought my own guide. From the Dublin Tourism’s homepage I have downloaded a number of Podcasts with different tours in Dublin. Now I have them available on my IPod, ready for use.
First tour is called “Viking & Medieval Dublin”. It brings me past some of the oldest parts of Dublin. You get to see the City Walls – or what’s left of them. You also pass the oldest pub in Dublin and the very nice St. Audeons Church, which is the only medieval-church in Dublin still in use. It was built between 1181 and 1212. In the front of the church there’s a nice little park, with some people smoking funny tobacco – much to the dislike of the policemen that patrols the park.
Finally the tour reaches Christ Church Cathedral. It was built during several periods, and the style seems a little messy. It’s not always been easy to be a Protestant Church in Catholic Ireland, so it has had its ups and downs. The queue for entering is way to long for my taste, so I head for a local pub for an omelet and a pint instead. And just as I get inside, it starts to rain – so another wise decision.
The Podcast guide is very fine, but you have to remember to bring a map or you will get lost. I didn’t on this tour and that was a mistake.
Pod-Tour 2 is called “Temple Bar to The Docklands”. It starts – of course – with a short tour around Temple Bar, where you are told about the history and the buildings in the area. Then you cross the River Liffey and continue east passing many fine bridges, including the Ha’penny Bridge and the big one – O’Connell Bridge. Then you reach the Custom House, which is a very impressive building build in 1790. There has been much trouble around this place, and it was almost burned downed in one of the independence-battles in 1921. Later it was rebuilt again.
The tour continues along the river to the Dublin Docklands. Like the big brother in London this a development area, made out of parts of the harbor that for years have been out of business. Now there are hotels, offices, apartments for the filthy rich and a huge conference-center. All is made out of glass and steel like it has to be these days.
Here the Pod-tour is ending, and I have to find my own way back to Trinity Collage. I do that by crossing River Liffey again, on a bridge so new that it’s not even on my map. Then I head back via some residential areas still waiting for the development to arrive.
Monday, September 17’Th
First trip of the day is to the outskirts of Dublin – to Kilmainham. I start the trip on Luas, the new light rail in Dublin, to Heuston Station. From there it is on foot to 3 different sights.
The first sight is Royal Hospital Kilmainham. It was build between 1680 and 1687, and had the same purpose as Hotel Invalide in Paris, namely to cater for wounded soldiers from the wars. It functioned as that until 1928. In 1980’s they started to restore the fine buildings. Now it houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Thankfully it’s closed today, so I don’t have to find an excuse to stay out. But the building and the park surrounding the building is very nice.
Then I walk through the park to Kilmainhaim Gaol. It’s a prison, made back in 1795, who has played an enormous role in Irish history.
After the risings in 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 against the British all the leaders of the uprising always went here. In connection with the Easter-rising in 1916 14 leaders were executed here. This episode was very much changes the atmosphere in Ireland, which until then not necessarily was pro-rising so to say. But after the executions the rising got backed by the people of Ireland.
There’s a very fine guided tour around the prison where you hear some of the stories. Among them is the story of the leader who married his fiancé in prison – just to be taken to the yard 2 hours later and shot. And another one who was wounded, and wasn’t even able to stand up during his own execution. Friendly as the British were, they allowed him to sit down.
From the prison there’s a small walk towards the War Memorial Gardens. This is a very fine park that runs all the way down to River Liffey. It was built to remember the 49.400 Irish soldiers killed during WW1 and has plenty of huge monuments.
From there I walk back to Heuston Station and take a Luas back to city-center. By the way – Luan means “Fast” on the Gaelic language.
Tour no. 2 is more in the center. I start at Trinity Collage and walks along Dame Street. First I reach the City Hall which was built in 1779. There’s a very fine hall that I get to see just before closing-time.
Right behind is Dublin Castle. It was built during a longer period, and you can see that. There’s a very fine tower in the corner, which looks just as it was built in 1258. They have tours of the castle, but it’s too late for today. That’s fine for me. Behind the castle there’s another fine park. A guy is sitting on a bench playing a Didgeridoo – hmmm – maybe he’s in a wrong place on this planet.
Further on to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Together with Christ Church Cathedral these are the 2 largest churches en Ireland – and they are both Protestant churches, which is weird in a Catholic country. If front of the church there’s another another fine park. There are weird persons here as well. A group is standing in the middle singing. Jesus – is there no normal people around these places?? - I start to think – until I realize that the group is a choir from Denmark – shame on them – do behave when abroad please.
The church was built between 1190 and 1225. No one really knows when. As many such building it has its stories to tell about fire and troubles. I guy named Oliver Cromwell, who visited Ireland in 1649 actually used the church as a stable for his horses. I take a look inside, but there’s a service going on so I’m quickly out again.
From there it is back to Trinity Collage. I have done enough sightseeing for today.
Tuesday, September 18’Th
It’s the last day on this trip and it’s cold and windy. This is an exception; the weather during the trip has been very nice.
Tour no. 1 is passing some of the fine parks in Dublin. First it’s St. Stephens Green a short walk from Trinity. This is supposed to be the most popular park in Dublin, where you can feed the ducks and take a walk and look at the flowers and trees. There is a very fine photo-exhibition in the park, with a lot of big photos of endangered species.
From there it’s another short walk to a fine park at Merrion Square. It is probably even nicer. But there are no ducks here. Instead there are some fine statues of different local celebrities. Oscar Wilde was one of them.
Merrion Square is a nice neighborhood. Around it, it is full of Georgian houses with fine fainted doors and spectacular door-knobs. In front of them there are special devices so you can get rid of the mud on your boots before entering the fine houses. These days most of the houses are inhabited by lawyers, designers and marketing-businesses, who seem to make so much money that they can afford the rent.
Lunch is at a fancy pub called “The Bank”. Mashed potatoes and spicy sausages are recommended.
Tour no. 2 is through Temple Bar to the areas central spot Meeting House Square. There is an exhibition in the National Photographic Archive that I would like to see. It’s a local newspaper-photographer, who is on show. The pictures are ok – but in my opinion nothing more than that. Why exactly these photos had to be on exhibition – I really don’t understand. By the way – Temple Bar – like the Book of Kells and Guinness – is a major tourist-trap if you ask me. Really nothing much around here except for a few bars, that you can find much better in other places of Dublin. There are clearly more interesting places in Dublin than these 3 high profiled ones.
Finally I head up and down O’Connell Street. This is the old shopping-street of Dublin, who is now being restored. There are some statues in the middle of the road. Among them the 120 m. high steel thing called Spire. It’s supposed to be the tallest sculpture on earth. It has been placed there instead of an old statue of Admiral Nelson, which someone blew up in 1966.
Dinner is the first pizza on this trip, before I finish my Dublin-visit with a pint at a pub that is showing Porto vs. Liverpool on the big screen.
Wednesday, September 19’Th
I’m leaving Dublin Airport at 11.30. I’m arriving Billund Airport at 2.30, and is back home at 3.30 – and it’s still raining.