Final day of the trip - and what a wonderful ending.
My lovely hotel is about a 20 minute walk to the Dublin Zoo, with a charming Victorian Tea Cottage along the way. Both are located in Phoenix Park, a huge complex of sporting fields, gardens, walkways, and the zoo. They claim that it is twice the size of Central Park in New York, but not how it relates to Lincoln or Grant Parks in Chicago. Whatever the case, it is pretty vast.
I started the day with scone and tea at the Tea Cottage, then went to the zoo. When it comes to zoos, I feel pretty spoiled and a bit jaded after growing up with Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos. I was impressed with the Dublin Zoo. It is an old zoo - the 3rd oldest in Europe - but they have done some wonderful rennovations and had the blessing of receiving a significant extra parcel of park land in the last 20 years. The result is a well designed complex of highly naturalistic environments that show deep understanding of and respect for the animals. Between and around the exhibits are lush plantings that rival any botanic
garden. What a wonderful place.
The zoo was a center for recreation in the early 1900's, when the camels and other animals would parade the grounds and ice skating was allowed on the lake that runs through the middle of the zoo. (Now the lake has islands in the middle that serve as homes to a variety of monkeys.) In her time, Margaret Campbell would certainly have come here with friends on weekends or for evening entertainment. Times change, space use standards alter, but the inherent loveliness of a place like this persists.
It was approaching mid-afternoon before I could bring myself to leave the zoo. Hopped on the bus and got a bit more city background before stopping at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Ended up taking a short walking tour of the college before actually getting in line to see the Kells exhibit. The tour ended a bit abruptly when it started seriously raining. This was the first I had to use my umbrella, so no complaints.
The Book of Kells is actually four illustrated and illuminated copies of the four gospels. The exhibit provides extensive background information about medieval book writing
and binding - quite a process. The Kells volumes are beautiful. Equally amazing are smaller books - all hand written - about the size of paperbacks. It is hard to believe that people could write so much text in such small writing. The tour finished in the very long library reading room - a massive expanse of wall to towering ceiling books.
A lot of Dublin goes back hundreds of years. Margaret Campbell would have walked those streets and seen those buildings - maybe even the Book of Kells at Trinity College.
Hopped on the bus and headed back to the hotel. The guide told me that there was a great restaurant just down the block - Nancy Hands - so I tried it. The guide was right.
On the ride, Ann, the guide, also commented about the confusing Dublin Streets and said that if you need directions in Dublin you should ask 5 people and go with the average response. After my nearly 3 hours of being sent in different directions yesterday while trying to return the car, I could definitely relate. Considering that both yesterday's cab driver and today's tour bus guide talked about Dublin's
crazy streets (not to mention the traffic), I don't feel quiet as inept as before. I wonder how many time Margaret Campbell got lost when she first came to Dublin.
Flying home at 10 a.m. tomorrow, so I need to catch the bus by 6:30 a.m. I learned a lot over the past 9 days - and grew in skills and confidence even more. Looking over the pictures taken, there is a whole lot to process. I came to Ireland looking for Margaret Campbell, and leave having a better sense of her world. I also have a greater respect for the life that came from her and eventually has led to me and beyond me. It was a good trip.
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