Sunday, 24 August 2014

One-woman diplomatic tour - Dublin

Gosh, this summer has just been MAD with barely a night or weekend off to blog or just do things like a load of washing.

One of things I've been busy doing is visiting Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland for work. I've been to Wales a fair bit as it's just over the bridge from Bristol but I'd never been to Ireland before so I took my husband and took a bit of a holiday too.

We flew into Dublin on Friday night when it proceeded to pour with rain all weekend - simply pounding down at times! Still, we had some good times inside scarfing down some good food. One of our best finds was an amazing bakery/cafe which gave us farls for breakfast.

What is a farl? We didn't know either, but it turns out they're like scones or American biscuits made with potato as well as flour. They were delicious warm with melted cheese, grilled mushrooms, black pudding and white pudding. In case you don't know, black and white puddings are like sausages - they're made with blood, but if you can get over that, they're tasty.

 We took a wee tour of Dublin castle (although most of it is more like a palace from the 1700s). Dublin Castle was the seat of British rule in Ireland and is now used for state visits and swearing in the President. The tour guide showed us some of the original stonework from the 13th Century and gave us some insights into the troubled history of Ireland and its journey to independence.

 This picture shows the only remaining old tower with two different styles of newer building attached to it.

Chandelier from Dublin Castel
 Inside the 'castle' looked like plush 17th Century state rooms, which is basically what it is. This beautiful chandelier has shamrocks, roses and thistles to represent Ireland, England and Scotland (Wales wasn't considered important enough to get a daffodil on there).

Dublin museum isn't fabulous (I think Copenhagen has spoiled us for Viking artifacts) but it does have a great collection of Celtic gold including lots of huge torques.  We weren't allow to take any pictures of the gold, but trust me, it was huge and old and fragile and amazing. I was interested to discover how much of an influence waves of Viking invaders/ settlers were in Ireland. And it was inside i.e. out of the rain, so that's something.

An awesome bit of Dublin was the Anglican cathedral. We went to the service on Sunday which had beautiful music produced by (what I found out later) was only four singers. Normally at churches like that there is a choir of at least 15 or 20 but these four were very skilled and made a beautiful sound.

The preacher had a massive grey beard and looked like he'd be really conservative, but he delivered a storming sermon condemning war and promoting peace, especially regarding Israel and Palestine at the moment. I felt like standing up and cheering at the end!

Also, in the basement afterwards, we saw some costumes from one of my favourite TV series - The Tudors and some other interesting bits of history from the cathedral including a realistically modelled dove made of silver for storing oil and a mummified cat who got stuck chasing a (now mummified) rat.

On Sunday afternoon we drove up to Belfast, taking the scenic coastal route. I'll tell you all about Northern Ireland in my next post...

Have you been to Ireland? What was your favourite bit?

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