Saturday, August 24, 2013

In Ireland!

Temple Bar DublinI am always excited when visiting a new country and this time was no different!  I peered out eagerly from my window as the aircraft banked smoothly through the clouds over Dublin airport on a bright, clear morning. Immigration was a breeze and soon I was off on my way chatting with my talkative and friendly driver as he drove me down to my hotel.  It didn't take me much time to realise that being friendly is pretty much the norm; I find the Irish the friendliest and most welcoming people in the West.

I was determined to make the most of my two days at Dublin.  Thankfully, the weather was on my side.  It only rained lightly for a little while, but only when I was in business meetings; the rest of time it stayed dry and pleasant enough to not require a jacket.  Days here were long, with sunlight all the way to about 9 PM, so I had enough time to get around and discover some of the city's historic sites and good places to eat.

Bridge over the river Liffey

 The Gaelic roadsigns that accompanied the English ones made it clear you were not in England.  That and the lovely Irish accent of the locals!  Not that Englishmen were absent; far from it! -They showed up in hordes, horsing around the famous Temple Bar area, visiting here for a bachelor's or hen party.

Temple Bar Dublin

The short time was just enough to discover a little about Irish culture.  While I knew about their Leprechauns and shamrock, I learnt about their national sport of Hurling.  I even bought a Hurley stick; as you can see here it can come in very handy! :)

Dublin Castle

As I toured the Temple Bar area and heard the energetic rendition of Irish tavern music, I got more insight on some uniquely Irish musical instrument such as the fiddle, tin whistle and the bodhran.  I decided to get myself a small bodhran; thankfully, it survived the trip to the USA and then to India.

Trinity College

Finally, I learnt of the Claddagh - a symbol of eternal love and friendship. The claddagh appears on most traditional rings, showing two hands holding a heart with a crown on top of it.

Spire of Dublin

Many of Dublin's historical attractions are clustered together.  I was able to cover the Dublin Castle, Trinity College and some of the old pubs in the Temple Bar area on foot without breaking into a sweat. Since I was here only during the evening, I couldn't see the Book of Kells, a 1000-year old ancient illustration of the Bible.  However, it was still awesome knowing some of my favourite authors such as Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw once walked these corridors.

Molly Malone

My local guide for the evening helpfully pointed out the statue of Molly Malone on one of the streets.  This statue is based on the fictional tale of a beautiful fishmonger who plied her trade in the daytime and was a part-time prostitute at night.  A romanticised folk song has her selling 'Cockles and Mussels' which is the scene this statue portrays.

Finally, after all the walking, we were hungry and decided to stop at one of the older pubs just off the touristy part of Temple Bar, the Porterhouse, home to some of the best ales and stout in the world.  However, that is a subject worthy of an entire new post!

No comments: