Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Dublin

Well, with nothing better to do for the weekend, Ellery and I took a quick trip to Dublin.

We left late Wednesday night, arrived in Manchester, UK for a short layover, and got to Dublin before noon. After dropping our bags off at our hotel -- nothing to write home about but serviceable and within walking distance of the heart of Dublin -- we took a short name and ventured out, first walking along the Liffey, where we caught sight of the new bridge by Calatrava, shaped like a harp, the symbol of Ireland.

Our first real stop was at Trinity College, and a visit to the Book of Kells. Um, OK, underwhelming.

Then it was Grafton Street, the main shopping area of South Dublin. All decked out in lights for Christmas, it was a wonderful introduction to the city. We explored a bit and had a quick Thanksgiving dinner of ... pizza and lasagna.

From there, it was onto the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, led by two actors who punctuated each pub stop with a scene from Beckett, a reading from Joyce, or a bit of wit from Wilde, all the while providing a lot of city history. And, as they prefaced it all by saying there would be a quiz at the end, Ellery took great care to learn all that she could and, sure enough, she tied for the most questions answered (with a little help from mom), netting a small bit of whiskey -- which we promptly traded in for an official Irish Literary Pub Crawl T-Shirt.

Friday took us to Merion Square and the famous statue of Oscar Wilde, the Museum of Art, to hop-on, hop-off bus, and the Kilmainham Gaol -- definitely one of the most interesting tours we've taken, and very much like the tour of Robin Island in South Africa -- tales of politics, prisoners, love of country and, eventually, freedom.

The afternoon sent us to North Dublin and "real" shopping -- for coats, as the temperature had dropped significantly and all signs pointed to snow.

On Friday evening, we went to see The Merry Ploughboys dinner show. While I'm not usually one for touristy stuff, as Ellery was too young to go to the pubs in Temple Bar for local music, we had little choice in the matter. I was pleasantly surprised, however, as the music and dancing were not only good, but so was the food, and the atmosphere really didn't feel all that contrived. All in all, it was a good way to squeeze in some traditional song and dance.

The snow eventually did begin Friday night, and by Saturday morning, it was a full storm. Hence, our planned trip to the Wiklow Mountains was canceled as the roads were closed. Instead, however, we took a trip to the medieval town of Kilkenny, with it's wonderfully restored castle and small streets and alleys.

The trip back to Dublin took us to the Rock of Dunamase, the ruins of a Twelfth Century castle, that we climbed about for a while before returning to Dublin.

As we had an early flight home on Sunday morning, we finished the trip with a relaxing evening in the hotel, watching the snow continue to fall.