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Published: December 28th 2015
Campanile in the court in the evening light.
In the last week of September my job took me to Dublin. We presented at the European Conference of the Association of Test Publishers (E-ATP)
. This time I had only prepared the conference, and my Irish colleagues Laura and David presented. However, I went there anyway to support them, to discuss some business with them, and to provide a short training session for the Dublin team.
So I arrived in Dublin on Wednesday evening and it all started off in a super friendly manner with a taxi driver, Michael, who told me a lot about sights to visit in Dublin, about the history of the city, and he even played some Irish songs for me from a CD he had in his taxi. They were by the band ‘The Wolf Tones’
, an Irish band who has performed a lot of songs dealing with the Irish war of independence. One of the songs, ‘Grace’
, was on how Grace Gifford married her fiancé Joseph Plunkett in Kilmainham Gaol (jail) only a few hours before he was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising
When we arrived at my hotel that was located in Ballsbridge, not far from our Dublin office, I quickly checked in and then went for dinner.
Croke Park Stadium
Headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The tour on the roof of the stadium that I took offered great views of the city of Dublin.
I came across a Malaysian restaurant just around the corner from my hotel and since I had not had any Malaysian food in a while I went in and had a lovely dinner.
Thursday was busy with work and the conference. In the evening I took a quick walk past Merrion Square, a park, to famous Trinity College. Later in the evening David invited Michal (whom I had met in Oslo only two weeks earlier), his girlfriend, two clients, and me for dinner. The restaurant was called ‘Brookwood’
, a steak, seafood, and cocktail restaurant and bar. It was lovely food (there was some vegetarian food for me!) – and of course we went to a pub afterwards to have some Guinness.
On Friday there was work for me to do and also the training session, but I had the afternoon off, so I caught a taxi to Croke Park Stadium
. It is the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ireland’s largest sporting association. Ireland has some unique games such as Gaelic football (similar to football, but with different types of goals and hand-passing being allowed)
or hurling (played with a wooden stick and a ball)
. The reason why I went there though was the fact that one can take a tour along the roof of the stadium that has a great
... the river running through Dublin.
view of the city of Dublin.
When the tour started off the guide asked whether there was anyone in the group who was not from Ireland. Another lady and I raised our hands. The guide wanted to know where we were from. So we told him. And then some of the other visitors pointed their fingers at a man and said “He is from England”. There was a big “oooh” in the entire crowd, and although this was a joke it told a story about the relationship between Ireland and England.
The tour itself was interesting. It showed once more that the Irish War of Independence is still very present in people’s minds. Most of the buildings our guide drew our attention to had something to do with the war. Also it gave a good impression of the city that is very flat, located on river Liffey, and close to the sea. After the tour David picked me up and invited me for a beer in Bayside, close to the sea, and then brought me back to my hotel. I had Italian food just around the corner from the hotel for dinner and then had an early night.
Statue of the 19th century political leader on O'Connell Street.
Saturday was entirely dedicated to sightseeing. I started the day with a hop on hop off bus tour, something that I do quite often when I want to get a first impression of a city. I had a quick lunch not far from O’Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare. It holds the Spire of Dublin, apparently the world’s tallest sculpture, a huge metal spike; the Post Office, one of the city’s most famous buildings; and a number of statues of famous Irishmen, such as Daniel O’Connell, a political leader who lived in the 19th century.
My first sightseeing stop was Kilmainham Gaol
, the jail that held some of the most famous political and military leaders of Ireland, amongst them the aforementioned Joseph Plunkett. It opened in 1796 with the idea of being a new and better prison: until then, prisoners had been held in large groups, with many prisoners occupying one cell together; now the idea was to have smaller cells with fewer prisoners in each. The prison was a stop-over for many poor people who were sent to Australia as prisoners after having committed minor crimes such as stealing. Hangings also took place in or in front of the
... on O'Connell Street. There is a demonstration going on in the foreground, but I never found out for or against what.
prison. Many of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Risings were shot to death there. The tour gave a good impression of what it must have been like to be a prisoner there: The whole building was cold, draughty, and dark, and one could truly sense how hopeless prisoners must have felt there. I also learned a lot about the War of Independence and its leaders, so the tour was a really good thing to do and is definitely worth the waiting time.
My next stops were the cathedrals: First I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland. It is the national cathedral for the whole of Ireland, it was first mentioned in the 12th century, and its most famous dean is Jonathan Swift. Christ Church Cathedral is within walking distance. It is a medieval cathedral as well, most likely dating from the 11th century, and functions as the cathedral of the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough. It also has a crypt that one can visit. After looking at the cathedrals I did not have much time left, so I took a quick stroll into the court of Dublin Castle which was until 1922 the
Kilmainham Gaol I
The entrance of the famous prison, where they used to hang prisoners who had been sentenced to death.
seat of the United Kingdom government's administration in Ireland, and is now a major Irish government complex.
Afterwards I had a quick dinner and then went for a tour called ‘Literary Pub Crawl’
. As many of you might know quite a few famous writers were born or lived in Dublin. The tour takes a group through different pubs, and actors perform scenes from Dublin writers’ books or tell stories about their lives. My tour started at the Duke Pub with a scene from ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett. We went to four different pubs and also spent a bit of time in front of one of the buildings of Trinity College. The writers that were introduced during the tour were, apart from Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, and Bram Stoker. The tour was just amazing, it gave a whole different perspective of the city and made me feel like reading some of the works that had been introduced to us. And all of it was liked to a pub tour, another important part of Irish culture.
At the end of the day I really felt full of new information and ideas and was
Kilmainham Gaol II
One of the more modern parts with prisoner cells on three floors.
ready for bed. The next morning there was not much left to do for me, I went for a run, had breakfast, and then went back to the airport to fly home. I really enjoyed my days in Dublin and I definitely want to come back to see more of the city and its friendly and cheerful inhabitants.
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