Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two girls in the city...

Between waking up after 8am, getting put together, eating breakfast with A and watching a performance... we didn't leave the house earlier than 10am except for twice... the day F gave us ride into town on her way to an appointment and the day we left. This was not a bad vacation schedule! We headed into Maynooth and found ourselves on the train into Dublin at 11:30. We didn't know it at the time, but we had caught the train that was direct into Dublin from Maynooth, no stops along the way... which we would find out later was a treat! However, this train only went into Connelly Station and we wanted to go a couple stops further to Pearse Station, which would put us right next to Trinity College , the library Long Room and the Book of Kells... our first destination. As I saw it, this gave us the opportunity to figure out how to get back ON the train... we familiarized ourselves with the station while we waited for the next train that would take us further down the line.

When we finally arrived at Pearse station and Trinity College, it was lunch time. We had an insider tip that the student cafe at the college was decent and cheap...so we headed there for our lunch. As we passed the outside of the college, we noticed a soccer team warming up. Since it was a sunny day, we decided to get our grub for 'take away' and have our lunch while watching the game. It was fun people watching and enjoying the sunshine a bit.

After lunch, we went into the library where the Book of Kells exhibit is housed. The book itself is incredibly ornately detailed. Its written on vellum and at the exhibit is a video showing a how books from that era were bound using vellum as parchment and thin pieces of oak as covers. After the Book of Kells exhibit we headed up to the Long hall, which is a long room, two stories high with book shelves up to the ceiling.

The Library of Trinity College is the largest research library in Ireland. As a result of its historic standing, Trinity is a legal deposit library for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and has a similar standing in Irish law. The college is therefore legally entitled to a copy of every book published in Great Britain and Ireland and consequently receives over 100,000 new items every year. The library contains 4.25 million books, including 30,000 current serials and significant collections of manuscripts, maps, and printed music.

The Book of Kells is by far the Library's most famous book and is located in the Old Library. Together with the Long Room, the Old Library is one of Ireland's biggest tourist attractions. Though the Book of Kells has been exhibited in other locations, damage caused on a loan in 2000 to an Australian institution has led to a policy of never allowing the book to leave Trinity again.

Fun Fact: It was widely reported that the appearance of the Jedi Archives in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was inspired by the Long Room due to the close resemblance between the two. Trinity considered legal action but the matter was not pursued.

That many books was awe-inspiring! I read that all the new acquisitions a year (many of those being from the arrangement with Great Britain) require 1Km of new shelving space each year!

After we shopped in the gift shop, we went out into the city to find a pub. We stopped in at the Dame street pub and watched horse racing for while. This was a small pub, seating maybe 25 at max capacity, no food, just racing and beer. The owner kept leaving every now and then... I finally figured out he was going over to the bookie across the way, as he and some of the customers were betting on the horse races!

With our dogs rested, we went to the visitors center to get info and it turned out to be the best place to shop! They had a lot of books, local gifts etc for the lowest prices we had seen so far. Across the street was the post office and we mailed the few obligatory intercontinental postcards. We found our way to an Internet cafe and shopped on the way a bit more. Except on Thursdays, everything except bars restaurants closes by 6pm in Dublin...so before long we were ready for dinner and then the train back into Maynooth!

C was nice enough to pick us up from the train station, and we stopped on the way back for a night cap! Our plan for day two in Dublin, was in place and we were looking forward to the next sights!

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