Ireland has fascinated me since childhood. I wanted to visit the island inhabited by leprechauns and fairies. As an adult, I am astounded by the impact of Irish writers on the world. Ireland is an island of approximately 32,600 square miles with a population of six million. And yet, where would storytelling be without Bram Stoker, C.S. Lewis, Oliver Goldsmith, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Frank McCourt, Maeve Binchy, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and James Joyce? The list goes on, but these are my favorites.
Finally, I traveled to Ireland. Though I doubt these great writers gained their skill from walking the land or drinking the water, I nurture hope that the influence of this island will rub off on me. Having finished my third novel, I’m enjoying a month off before beginning my fourth. This is a time of renewal and rest.
Handsome and I toured Ireland by Trafalgar bus, jaunting cart, and foot. Here’s how the first day went. The signs at the Dublin airport were in English and Gaelic.
The first people we met in our tour group were Nancy and Earl from Ottowa. The bus driver, Pat, loaded up our gear and deposited us at the Ballsbridge Hotel. There, we met our guide, Ann, who narrated a driving tour of Dublin.
Home to 1.3 million, Dublin is the capital of Ireland. It is situated on the eastern side of the country with the Liffey River running through it. Each of the twenty-four or so bridges is different. To learn more about them, see Dublin bridges.
Ann taught us about Georgian architecture. The size of the windows reveals the importance of the rooms. The lower floors had the largest windows and the higher floors the smallest ones.
The decreasing size of the windows also gives an illusion of height. Homes were taxed by the number of stairs leading to the main door, so the wealthiest had them. In addition, the wealthy had a servant’s entrance door under the stairs. Many of the doors were painted in bold, bright colors.
We passed Trinity College, where the Book of Kells is kept. A national treasure of Ireland, the Book of Kells was copied and illustrated by monks. We got to view the document later in our tour.
We stopped for photos at Christ Church Cathedral. Streets in the trade or guild section were named after the kind of work done there. Cobbler Street, Cook Street…you get the idea. Lastly, we stopped at the Glasnevin Trust and cemetery, where we learned about Irish heroes O’Connell and Micheal Collins. We enjoyed drinks and snacks at the cafe there. Jetlagged and exhausted, we collapsed in our non-air-conditioned room at the Ballsbridge Hotel. The area known as the Dublin 4 postal code is apparently the 90210 of Ireland.
The Gaelic alphabet has only twenty letters. Dublin in Gaelic is baile átha Cliath.