Dublin, Part 2

Before I start writing about Hungary, where we moved about a week ago, I wanted to get one more Dublin post in. Even with Kevin’s cold and daily rain, we spent every day out. In between the Cliffs of Moher and libraries full of illuminated manuscripts (<3 the Chester Beatty Library), we saw much of the city center and ate a lot of tasty fish and Asian food. Chowders and Thai food were lacking a bit in Bucharest and we worked hard to catch up.

Right in the center of downtown is Dublin Castle. Most of the castle is long gone, lost to fire and controlled demolition to halt that fire from reaching powder stores. In its place  Georgian-style administration buildings and state apartments for the Lord Lieutenant were built – everything needed for England to rule Ireland in style. Today, however, the Irish government uses the rooms for state dinners, swearing in their own President, and office space.

Medieval tower foundations, and views inside the chapel.

Dublin Castle’s chapel, which looks like stone but is actually made mostly of wood, is ringed with the crests of each British Lord Lieutenant. They ran out of space for the crests; luckily that occurred right as Ireland gained its freedom.

The State Apartments are comfy by any standard, and apparently no one complained too much at the destruction of the stone-walled castle because the replacement was just so much nicer. Lots of large windows and fireplaces, and plenty of room for banqueting.

Dining room and drawing room at Dublin Castle, Oscar Wilde relaxing in Merrion Square.

Slightly further out from the center is Glasnevin Cemetery. Tens of thousands of tombstones range from austere black marble to ornate Celtic crosses. Many older ones are worn to semi-unreadability and are leaning over. My favorites had petitions for visitors to pray for the deceased, making me wonder why they felt they need the extra help. It felt like it might be haunted at night but I didn’t feel compelled to check too thoroughly.

Nearby is Broom Bridge, where Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton had a stroke of brilliance and discovered the formula for quaternions. Kevin can explain it and uses it in programming, but that sort of math is generally outside of my grasp. It was a small geek moment on our part.

Lots of gray: Broom Bridge of mathematical note, and Glasnevin Cemetery

Dublin’s Natural History Museum is quite possibly the world’s most quintessential 19th century museum. There wasn’t an effort to be modern (though they are planning a new structure next to the existing museum with expanded facilities). Most displays are mammals, birds, and fish native to Ireland (downstairs) and from the rest of the world (upstairs). The floors are wood worn to a patina. Most specimens are inside wood-framed glass museum cases that are probably original.

National Natural History Museum

As you enter the main doors, the first animals are the most striking. Skeletons of extinct Irish elk tower over you, very much like something from north of the Wall in Game of Thrones. Compared to current deer, these are giants. Not really something I’d want to meet while hiking…

Extinct Irish elk.

And now on to Budapest! I unfortunately inherited Kevin’s cold, but it shouldn’t slow us down too much…