Statue of Daniel O’Connell“Your feet will bring you to where your heart is”
Revered for emancipating the Irish from punitive British laws prejudicial to the Irish. O’Connell Street is named after him.
- Irish proverb
We started out the day with a nice breakfast at Anchor House B&B. I had a vegetarian Irish (scrambled eggs, beans, and toast) and Susan had a traditional Irish (egg, ham, sausage, beans, and toast). I had a slice of my favourite, soda bread, and we had coffee and juice. There was also cereals, fruit, and yogurt available. We chatted with a couple from New York at breakfast.
I had researched a potential walking tour prior to leaving home, and we decided to do it this morning, so we booked it online after breakfast. It is a Pat Liddy walking tour called ”Dublin Highlights and Hidden Corners.” We left our B&B about 10 ish, so we’d have time to visit the GPO - the General Post Office - which was on the way to our walking tour meeting location on O’Connell Street.
I noticed yesterday when we arrived back in Dublin that this area, north of the Liffey, is definitely more gritty than the Trinity College area we stayed in previously. There are loads of B&Bs and hostels on our street, and there seem to
Statue of James Connolly
One of the leaders in the 1916 Easter Rising, executed by the British.
be more homeless people around. O’Connell Street could use some revitalization.
It was a lovely sunny morning, which was very nice for a change! It didn’t take long to get to the GPO, which we found to be closed, because it is a Bank Holiday (we had no idea it was a holiday when we arranged our trip). I asked a friendly Garda (the Irish police is called the Garda - in Irish it means Guardians of the Peace) if the GPO would be opening later, and he thought it might open at noon but he didn’t know. He was happy to pose for a photo with me.
The GPO is important because it is the site of the 1916 Easter Rising, the event that led to the independence of Ireland. If you’ve seen the movie Michael Collins you will remember the GPO. It was there the republicans declared that Ireland was independent from Britain. On Easter Monday 1916 they took over the GPO and Padraig Pearse read out the declaration that Ireland was now a republic. It is quite a moving declaration. While unsuccessful (Pearse and a number of others were executed by the British), the Easter
Rising galvanized popular opinion and eventually led to Irish independence (for the Republic of Ireland, anyway).
There is a museum in the GPO that I wanted to see, but since it was closed we couldn’t go in. It was closed for the day so we couldn’t come back after the walking tour. I’m glad I saw it though, as it is the location of such an important event in modern Irish history.
We met our guide and the others on the walking tour in front of the bus station on O’Connell street and set off. Our guide, Kevin, told us about the Easter Rising (as did our Paddywagon guide Alex). Initially public opinion was against the people involved in the Rising, because a lot of innocent people were killed, and because it happened during WWI, when many Irish men were off fighting. But the British reaction, which was to sentence all those involved to death, and the subsequent execution of many of the leaders, turned public opinion in favour of the Rising. A few years later, the Irish War of Independence occurred (1919-21), followed by the treaty with Britain, which partitioned Ireland into the Irish Free State and
O’Connell Street and the Dublin Spire
Built to replace Nelson’s Column, bombed in the 1960s.
Northern Ireland, which remained part of the UK. The treaty was voted on by the people of Ireland, who narrowly voted in favour of it. The people in the north voted to remain part of the UK.
Anyway, Kevin showed us where the republicans escaped from the back of the GPO, and the house where they holed up for a few days before surrendering to the British. He also talked about Daniel O’Connell (so did Alex who gave us a primer on Irish modern history on the bus on the way back from Dublin). Daniel O’Connell, known as the “Great Liberator” fought against the Penal Laws, which banned Irish culture, music, and education, as well as prevented Irish from owning land. There is a statue of Daniel O’Connell on O’Connell Street, which is of course named for him.
On O’Connell Street is the Spire of Dublin, which is 120 metres in height (we could see it from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse). It is located on the site of the former Nelson’s Column, which was bombed by Irish republicans in 1966. Kevin said his mother, who is ”given to exaggeration” claimed that she was knocked out
GPO - General Post Office
Site of the 1916 Easter Rising. You might remember it from the movie Michael Collins (with Liam Neeson).
of bed when it was bombed (they lived about 4 miles away).
We walked to The Church Cafe, formerly St. Mary’s Church, which was the first purpose built Protestant church in Dublin. (The other Protestant churches, built earlier, were converted from Catholic Churches by the British who declared all the churches to be Protestant in the 1500s). It was quite lovely inside, but the best part was that there is a bar in the centre, now that’s my kind of church!
Susan and I got Irish coffees to go (Irish coffees to go are a brilliant idea), which were delicious. And it was almost noon at this point 😀. If you are in the area and need to use the bathroom, pop in here, the bathrooms (in the basement) are very nice. There is a bust of Arthur Guinness in the church (who founded the Guinness brewery), who was married in the church in 1761.
We walked through the Italian Quarter, and over the Liffey, in and out of the Temple Bar area, through other areas, eventually ending up at Christchurch Cathedral, founded in 1030. The gothic/romanesque structure is quite impressive, complete with flying buttresses. It is
a Protestant (Church of Ireland) church, formerly Catholic (but still viewed by the Catholic Church as the primary official Dublin cathedral, so the actual Catholic cathedral, St. Mary’s, is called the Pro-Cathedral, meaning provisional).
We walked to Dublin Castle, which doesn’t look like a castle at all. Only one tower from the 10th C remains. Dublin Castle was the seat of British administration until the Irish Free State was established. We walked through other areas, eventually finishing up at Trinity College, about 1:45. It was a really interesting tour, which we both enjoyed a lot.
Susan and I then walked to Merrion Square to see the Oscar Wilde statue, and then we stopped at a nearby place for late lunch. I had a tasty vegetarian soup and soda bread, with a pot of tea, and Susan had a cup of soup and a ham and cheese toastie. We had been walking a lot so were glad to sit down and have a break.
We walked back to our B&B, stopping at a souvenir shop for gifts, and finally arrived back about 5ish. We made tea, which we had with a few biscuits, and rested in the room
Tower of the former St. Mary’s Church
First purpose built Protestant church in Dublin. The others were formerly Catholic Churches made Protestant by the British.
for few hours while I worked on the blog. Later we headed back out, deciding to return to the Celt to enjoy some more music. I tried a Dublin blonde, but much prefer Guinness. We shared smoked salmon on Guinness black bread, which was really good, and some fries, and listened to the music (just one musician tonight), and had a very enjoyable evening. Eventually we returned to our nearby B&B, and settled in for the night. Tomorrow we are off to Belfast!
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