I headed first for the Writers’ Museum. There are a ton of Irish writers and the museum goes through them in chronological order covering not only their biographies and bibliographies, but also discussing them within historical context. My only beef with the museum is that the gift shop was closed. I can only imagine the possible teaching tools they might have had available.
Then I walked to the National Gallery, which was really disappointing because the majority of it was closed for renovation. There was literally one room open with about twenty pieces, most of which were not done by Irish artists, nor by artists I had heard of.
Fortunately, close by is the National Museum of Ireland- Archaeology. Here I was able to see artifacts from ancient Ireland, including bog bodies from the Iron Age and the Faddan More Psalter, dating back to around 800. They also had a temporary exhibit on Brian Boru, who I was not familiar with, so I learned a lot.
On pretty much the other side of the city is the National Museum of Ireland- Decorative Arts & History. What I liked best about this museum was the special exhibit they had on the 1916 Uprising. After seeing the pictures and personal effects of those who were executed (and especially, for example, those who were young. One in particular, his rosary was returned to his mother after his execution), I confess I got a little teary.
When I returned to my hostel, I made contact with a friend I met in Turkmenistan who now lives in Dublin. Guvanch invited me over to enjoy some olivier, a Russo-Turkmen salad, he had made fresh. We caught up and then he took me on a walk about the city, showing me some of the architecture he liked, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as St. Stephen’s Green and some of the popular areas of Dublin like Temple Bar and Grafton Street. Having Guvanch around also meant that I could get some pictures of myself with the Molly Malone statue and standing on Ha’penny Bridge.
Then I went to the Little Museum of Dublin, which is a history of the city. This museum has a ton of artifacts including the music stand that JFK used as a podium when he addressed the Irish Parliament. There’s also an entire room dedicated to U2, so you can imagine how much I liked this place. There’s even a statue of Bono as MacPhisto that I took a selfie with.
After the museums I did what I had been hoping to do since I first explored Dublin for that brief period of time three weeks prior: I took a 1916 bus tour. It. Was. Incredible. It was moving theater in both senses of the word. Literally, we were moving on the bus as it navigated the streets of Dublin. And the actor and actress gave moving performances as people caught up in the Uprising. The windows were all blacked out by curtains so that you weren’t distracted by the traffic outside. On the bus, the characters told their stories and drew us in. At one point, we were each handed a copy of the Irish Declaration of Independence and we read it aloud in unison. (It is poster size and I’m hoping to use it when I teach seniors this year.) The bus stopped at a few key places like St. Stephen’s Green and we got out and the stories continued there. Did you know that the fighting at St. Stephen’s Green stopped each day so that the groundskeeper could go feed the ducks? I actually learned that at the Little Museum of Dublin, so when the actor asked, I knew the answer and I got one of his military biscuits as a reward. By the end of the tour, I had been moved to tears a couple times. They did such a good job of putting a human face on the struggle.
For a bit, I wandered the streets of Dublin and took some pictures of interesting murals and buildings, and I stopped into a couple souvenir shops to pick up a few things. Then I met Guvanch for dinner at a Persian restaurant where we ate what we would call shashlik in Turkmenistan but what you might call kebab. He said it’s the closest we can get to Turkmen food in Dublin. He walked me back to my hostel, and I prepared all my luggage so I could hop out of bed quickly in the morning and head to the airport.
The next morning, when I arrived at the airport for check in, I was informed that my flight had been delayed for three hours. Since I had arrived three hours early for an international flight as it is suggested one do, I had 6 hours to kill. I used it to work on blog posts. And the airline gave me a voucher for food. Because of the delay, they had to rebook my connecting. By the time I deplaned at JFK, I had about 20 minutes to get to my gate for my flight to Detroit. After an undignified dash through the airport, I made it to the gate just as they were starting to board. I arrived in Detroit late and exhausted, but safe and grateful that I had the opportunity to take this trip and for all the experiences that went with it.