Every time my family and I do an international trip, I journal. I can’t help myself. Partly I do it because so many people ask, but mostly so that I can remember names and places years later and so that I’m encouraged to look things up and learn more. I hope you enjoy! Day 1: Dublin
We arrived in Dublin excited but jetlagged, checked into our hotel and immediately hit the streets, intent on the reservation we’d made for a tour and tasting at the Jameson Distillery. (Or, as it turned out, the old Jameson Distillery, since all operations had since been moved to Cork.) We were pleased to pass the Oscar Wilde statue on the way to transportation! Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite literary figures of all times and certainly my favorite wit…next to my husband, of course! The distillery was interesting, though not entirely novel, since we’d been on others like it, but, of course, it had the bonus that we got to taste Jameson Whiskey alongside Johnny Walker Black (a double distilled choice from Scotland versus Jameson’s triple distillation) and America’s most popular whiskey, Jim Beam. Jameson Whiskey is made with a mixture of malted and unmalted barley, and isn’t heated with peat, so doesn’t have that peaty flavor that I sometimes find overwhelming in whiskey (but that others often look for). I have to admit that in this case, I enjoyed the peaty flavor of the Johnny Walker and would have had a difficult time choosing a favorite between that and the Jameson’s, which was rich with vanilla accents and very smooth. That said, I did find that my drink of choice for the rest of the time in Ireland was Jameson and ginger ale with lime. Yes, yes, I know, I’m a heathen for mixing my whiskey. Usually I don’t, but when you want something cool and refreshing, whiskey neat is not the way to go.
After that, we joined a Hop-on Hop-off bus to tour around the city, intending to complete a whole circuit before jumping off, but we never got that far, because there were too many things we couldn’t resist, the first of which was Trinity College and the Book of Kells. I don’t even know how to begin talking about this, except that seeing the illustrations blown up on the walls and then seeing the book itself, reading about the volume and its contemporary, the Book of Armagh…well, it was practically a spiritual thing. The word “practically” can probably even be removed from this sentence. It was amazing, from the making of the inks to the artwork to the binding. Stunning!
Our next stop was the National Museum of Archaeology for many reasons but, let’s face it, foremost among them to see the bog bodies from Meath. For those of you who don’t already know that I have a morbid fascination with such things…well, I do. I was an anthropology and English/writing double-major, so mummification, ancient practices and the like are fascinating to me, and these bodies, preserved by the lack of oxygen in the bog. Of course, there were also wonderful examples of torques and circlets and arm bands, oh my!
Next we went off to Dublin Castle, where we were too late to get a tour, but not too late for some amazing shots of the remaining medieval tower and the Royal Chapel, especially from the gorgeous Dubh Linn Gardens outside, which contain the Garda Síochána Memorial Garden that opened in 2010 to commemorate the lives of police officers who died in service to their country. Exhausted then from jetlag and our jaunts, we repaired to a pub where we enjoyed shepherd’s pie and became fascinated with the Irish sport of hurling, which seems to be all the most exciting parts of any sport you can think of (soccer, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey…) all rolled into one.