Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dublin-Day 1 of the Tour

Since we were in Dublin a day early, we actually spent 4 days and nights in and around there. On Day #1 of the tour we met our driver, Nigel Murray. Did you know that Clan Murray is known as the Atholls?? Alex and I have had a long standing joke about this!

Anyway, on our first day we drove around Dublin and took in St. Patrick's Cathedral. According to the official website, the cathedral was "Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. A church was built on this site in 1191 and in 1991 we celebrated 800 years of worship. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland (Anglican)"

We also visited Christchurch Cathedral, Shrine of St. Valentine, and Phoenix Park. Phoenix Park is s the largest enclosed urban public park in Europe. It houses the Dublin Zoo, many monuments as well as the houses of the American Ambassador and the President of Ireland.

This is the Papal Cross which denotes the place where the Pope John Paul II held services when he was in Dublin in September 1979. The US Ambassador lives in the The Deerfield Residence which was the former residence of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It has been the official residence of the United States Ambassador to Ireland since 1927. Unfortunately the ambassador didn't invite us to visit so all we saw were the gates. Aras an Uachtaráin is the home and office of the President of Ireland. Does it remind you of the home and office of a certain other president? We headed back to downtown Dublin where Nigel turned us loose for a couple of hours. We wandered down Grafton Street. We had to wander--it was so crowded you couldn't do anything else but wander! Remember the song, Sweet Molly Malone? Well, the Dubliners do because there is a statue of her on Grafton Street. My pictures aren't the greatest because, as you can see by the picture above, there were tons of people everywhere--including hanging around the statue.Crowds do not turn me on so shopping on Grafton Street was totally out of the question. Jan, Al, Mr. Snowbird and I headed to Duke's Pub for lunch. We had Irish Stew, Corned Beef Sandwiches etc. and of course Mr. Snowbird had to have a pint of an adult beverage. Unfortunately it was German, not Irish. After lunch we went to Trinity College where we toured the library and saw the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a manuscript written in Latin containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It was transcribed by Celtic Monks about 800 ad. It is beautifully illustrated. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures so I copied a couple off the internet so you could see it. After our busy day, we headed back to the hotel where we rested a bit then headed down to a delicious dinner. At each hotel, we were given a choice of an appetizer/salad/soup, a choice of 3 or 4 main courses (usually a beef, a chicken, a fish, and a vegetarian) and a choice of 3 or 4 desserts. (And yes, I did gain weight on this trip!!)

After dinner, we headed to a private room where we were entertained by a fabulous piper who played the Uillean pipes. (Here is a neat website which tells the difference between Scottish Bagpipes and Irish pipes.) Anyway, Mick O'Brien played the pipes and penny or tin whistle and his daughter played the fiddle. Both were amazing. We bought a couple of his CD's as souvenirs. If you are curious he appears on YouTube several times. Here is one of them.
Then to top the evening off, Alex joined Mick and his daughter for a couple of numbers. Then it was off to bed to get a good night's sleep so we could start all over again tomorrow.