Well it was a trip that was a long time coming, after being postponed once in February due to a bad cold, but finally, last week I made it to Ireland to spend 2 days in Dublin.  Despite an hour delay and heavy rain I made it to the city by midday on Wednesday.  Just in time to catch a guided tour at the Chester Beatty Library.  Was very lucky to find out about this in my Lonely Planet guide.

The Chester Beatty Library as described by its website:  an art museum and library which houses the great collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). The Library’s exhibitions open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. Its rich collection from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe offers visitors a visual feast. Chester Beatty Library was named Irish Museum of the year in 2000 and was awarded the title European Museum of the Year in 2002.

Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur’an, the Bible, European medieval and renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights of the collection. Turkish and Persian miniatures and striking Buddhist paintings are also on display, as are Chinese dragon robes and Japanese woodblock prints. In its diversity, the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 BC to the present day.

So you can see why I was very lucky to get there to not only see the library but also to have a fully guided tour of some of the highlights.  It is a really beautiful space.  And it has a fantastic cafe in the first floor where I had a wonderful late lunch.

After the museum I met with a friend that I met while trekking in Africa.  He walked around with me and showed me St Stephen’s Green and the Temple Bar area where I got some small gifts.  I then left him and went to grab a pre-theater meal at Eden.  I had great cauliflower soup and cod over puy lentils.  I then went off to the Gate Theater where I saw an incredible production of All My Sons.   It was possibly one of the best plays I’ve seen.   

After the play I had a very long walk back to the little B&B I stayed at.  However it was a very sweet room and by the time I got home I was just so exhausted.  I stayed here.  The next morning I was up early to catch the Dublin Hop On, Hop Off bus.  After I hopped on we went past the Christ Church Cathedral as well as St Patrick’s Cathedral.  But the morning highlight was the Guinness Storehouse where you not only get to learn the history of this famous brew, the ingredients and process of making the drink, but you also get a pint on the 7th floor overlooking the city.  A very fun time and I would definitely recommend.  So I had my pint at around 11:30am but I figured it was 5 o’clock somewhere;)

Next it was back on the bus (and in the rain) where we headed through Phoenix Park which is actually bigger than Central Park!  We also passed Kilmainham Gaol which is a former prison now operating as a museum.  I did not have time to go but was told it is definitely worth the visit.

It was then off to lunch at The Winding Stair, another great food spot.  Had wonderful chicken pate for a starter and then delicious Irish lamb stew for my main.  Only downer was the 3 EUR tea I had after my meal!

My penultimate stop of the day was Trinity College to see the Book of Kells in the Trinity College Library.  The Book of Kells was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world. It contains the four gospels, preceded by prefaces, summaries, and canon tables or concordances of gospel passages.  I also went into The Long Room which is the main chamber of the Old Library and is nearly 65 metres in length, and houses around 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books.  It was pretty incredible.  

My final stop was the National Library.  It houses an amazing reading room- no pictures- but I got a great view of it for a bit.  And they also had a great looking exhibit on Yeats but at this point my mind could not take anymore info!  So I was on my way back to the hotel and to the airport.

A quick trip (and a bit wet) but still a great one and I obviously couldn’t leave the UK without visiting it’s Irish neighbor.  And without having a pint of Guinness served at the appropriate temperature!

Pictures of my trip here.  


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