At the end of 2008, I was alerted to a $230 round trip fare to Heathrow. I immediately snapped it up - first thinking of going somewhere for my 50th birthday (beginning of April.) The flight wasn't available that week, so I started backing up and found a flight for the week of St. Patrick's Day. Since I hadn't been to Ireland, I decided that was the place to go. It was just a short flight from Heathrow to Dublin.

It's hard to put a date on Christ Church Cathedral. It's been in this location in one shape or another since the 11th century (as a wooden church built by the first Christianized Danish king, Sitric Silkbeard, in 1038 - in 1171 it was rebuilt in stone by Strongbow) and was damaged and fixed throughout the centuries until the 19th century when it was repaired to its present state. While I was there, I tested an audio program for them - they were considering having a program that visitors can download to their Ipod before visiting. The cathedral is beautiful and very peaceful. Strongbow's tomb is here as is a small casket containing the heart of St. Laurence O'Toole. The crypt is Dublin's oldest surviving structure and dates to the 12th and 13th centuries. In the low ceiling crypt are displays, among them historic statues, the stocks used in punishments handed out by the church, and a mummified cat and rat found in an organ pipe. In the churchyard are the ruins of the chapterhouse dating from 1230.

There's no way I could go to Dublin without going to Trinity College and see the book of Kells! I liked touring the rest of the library - especially the Long Room. When they ran out of room on the wall to wall, floor to ceiling bookshelves, they simply raised the roof to give them more room. Trinity College was founded in 1592 for Protestants. Catholics had to convert in order to get the free education for centuries. This is a picture of the bell tower, erected in 1853, and the Graduates Memorial Building. Alumni include Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, and Mary McAleese.

Contrary to what I had heard, there are lots of people celebrating Paddy's Day in Dublin. In fact, there were a lot of people celebrating Paddy's Day Eve as well. I didn't realize until later that I took no pictures during the celebration. A difference between Dublin and Chicago is that in Chicago you see mostly green, In Dublin there was orange as well - orange, white, and green wigs, boas, hats, etc. My traveling companion, Curious George, did overdo it a little tho.

After I realized that Dublin was a bit too crowded for me on St. Paddy's Day, I headed out to Glendalough. This included a beautiful drive through the Wicklow mountains. I thought it wouldn't be too crowded, not considering the fact that it was a bank holiday in Ireland. Cars lined the road, but I found a decent place to park and headed towards the main ruins. It wasn't as crowded there as I had expected. Glendalough covers a lot of area and is great for hiking. This picture is of St. Kevin's kitchen or church. St. Kevin was the founder of the monastery at Glendalough in the 6th century. This building was probably built in the 11th or 12th century.

This cemetery is on the monastic grounds at Glendalough. Many of the stones have been worn smooth, burials there started in the 6th cemetery - 1400 years ago - and continue on to the present day. In the old part, the burials are set pretty much randomly with grasses and sometimes even trees around them making them tilt at odd angles. The newer parts are much more orderly and kept up.

Ireland has a fairly large range of road types. I brought my usual map book, but this is the first trip where I also brought a GPS unit. Using it has a big advantage and a big disadvantage. The advantage is that you don't get lost. The disadvantage is that you don't get lost. Being able to easily find your hotel when it's late or a Chinese restaurant when you're hungry is really nice. (I am not a travel foodie - history buff, people watcher, art appreciator, grocery shopper, culture lover, but not a foodie.) But getting lost has led me to some of my fondest travel experiences. Fortunately, my GPS is very versatile. It kept taking me down narrow lanes like this one with some great scenery, but also some anxiety about meeting another car on the way. It turns out I had it set to "shortest route" since I had just been using it locally in the states. The shortest route isn't always the best roads!


For more info, or comments or questions - email me: .

Click on the link below to go back to my travel page.

Marguerite's travel page