First the outline, then the details:
1. Walked to and toured the Guinness Brewery. Had a Guinness.
2. Walked to and made reservations to tour the Kilmainham Gaol.
3. Taxied to and toured Trinity College, viewed the Book of Kells and the Long Hall.
4. Taxied back to and toured the Kilmainham Gaol.
5. Walked to the Brazen Head Pub, dined and had a Guinness.
6. Walked to the The Church Bar & Restaurant, had a Teelings Single Malt Irish Whiskey.
7. Walked back to hotel. Total walking distance for the day 13.6 km.
The Guinness brewery tour was a technological tour de force. A few images will give some insight into this. Founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759, he had such certainty as to his prospects for success that he signed a 9,000 year lease on 4 acres to establish his brewery. The annual rent was set at 45 Pounds Sterling, a lot of money in the day, but not so much 250 years later! Guinness grew to become the largest brewery in the world. While he was making beer, lots of it, his wife Olivia was making babies, lots of them… 21 in all, though only 10 survived to adulthood which was typical of the era.
Trinity College has an enrollment of 16,000 and ranks ranks among the top 100 universities in the world. It was founded in the 1500’s and has been the keeper of the renowned Book of Kells since the 1600’s. The Book of Kells is a calligraphy transcription of the four gospels, written on calf hide vellum and is believed to date to the early 800’s. It is considered one of Ireland’s most prized treasures. Photos of it are not permitted, but I have included one that is available online.
Trinity College is also known for its Long Room library which is over 200 feet and is roofed by Europe’s largest barrel vault ceiling. This Old Library houses over 200,000 precious books which are arranged by size, largest down low and smallest up high, for reasons associated with the distribution of weight, not knowledge.
Also on display is the Brian Boru Harp, one of the 3 oldest in the world and the only one in Ireland. It dates to the 1300’s and is the symbol of the Irish Republic. However, since Guinness first obtained a copyright on the image before Ireland, The Republic had to reverse the symbol for its own use.
The Kilmainham Gaol is a grim place. It was founded in 1796 and expanded in the 19th Century. It housed offenders convicted of both petty and capital offenses, some offenders as young as 5 years old. It was a place for public executions (hanging) for the five capital offenses of murder, rape, treason, theft, and piracy. Hanging occurred above the entry to the prison. Although public executions ended in 1921, capital punishment was not abolished in Ireland until 1990. The Gaol was retired from use in 1924. Its restoration as a museum is to preserve the memory of the patriots and their cause that ended British rule over most of Ireland.
The Gaol has become the face of Ireland’s struggle for independence from Great Britain. It was here that the architects of the 1916 uprising were housed and then executed by firing squad within days of their surrender. The longest of their trials lasted 19 minutes. The treatment of these rebels brought the people of Ireland together for the cause of independence. However religious divisions and the compromise which allowed Great Britain to retain Northern Ireland continue to simmer as divisive with the people of the Island. The colors of the flag of The Republic reflect an effort to mend the differences, Green for Catholic Ireland, Orange for Protestant Ireland (referring to the conquest by William of Orange) and the White of Peace between them.
A modern controversy is on the minds of the people of Ireland as they prepare to go to the poles on May 25th to decide if the Constitution should be amended to allow abortion. Current poling indicates a very close race, with incredible intensity and emotion invested by those on both sides of the question. Stay tuned.
In the meantime there is nothing quite as nice as a classic Irish Pub!
We leave by train in the morning for Waterford Ireland where we will meet dear friends Huw and Nina Thomas of Wales. We will tour with them for the next 5 days.
Peace Everyone. Pete