Friday, September 08, 2006

Tuesday, 5th September – Dublin

By the time we collected our rental car (a Renault Megane – very nice car) and found the B&B (a slight challenge as we didn’t have a map) it was about 10.30am, and we were pretty tired. I had arranged to leave our bags there but fortunately when we arrived our room was ready. We were very glad of the chance to freshen up & have a cup of tea.

We hopped on the bus to town (we are a little bit out of the city but on a major bus route – very convenient). We decided the best way to orient ourselves was to take a “Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour”, on an open topped double-decker bus. It was a great way to see a lot in a short time. Our impression of Dublin is of an elegant city with lots of beautiful buildings which all need a good scrub. It’s incredibly busy – the traffic is appalling and the city streets are crowded all the time. There are lots of trees, and a couple of really lovely city parks, wonderful Georgian buildings, statues everywhere (they know how to honour their heroes), and amazing flower baskets and window boxes with the most fantastic colourful displays.

We hopped off the bus first at Merrion Square, famous for its Georgian terraces with colourful doors, surrounding a park. We had a stroll, and took lots of photos of doors, finishing up at “Number 29”, one of the houses which has been restored to its former state and is a fascinating window on Georgian family life.

Our second stop was at Old Kilmainham Gaol, which has seen thousands of prisoners since 1796, but the last ones were the leaders of the Easter rising in 1916, which was the start of the modern independence of the Irish Republic. These men were all executed by the British, and are now revered patriots. We saw the cells they were held in and the simple black cross that marks the spot they were executed. Our guide, Donal, was excellent, really made it all come to life. It was well worth visiting, and helps to understand the modern history of Ireland.

After the tour we caught up with our friend from Sydney, Lois Hagger, who is living in Dublin. We had a guided tour of where she works at the Irish Church Mission and then she took us to a great Spanish restaurant in a converted market hall - great food at a great price. After dinner our tiredness finally caught up with us and we were tucked up in by 9:30.