Abroad in Ireland (Part 1) — Weekend in Dublin

Pilgrimage to the Brian Boru harp.

Arcadia, the organization that set up my study abroad program, also sponsored a couple of trips for us so that we could see the country as well as meet other students that were also studying abroad. One of the trips was down to Dublin and the area nearby. They paid and planned for almost everything. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.

The first day of our trip was spent in Dublin. They gave us all passes for the red tour buses that stop at all the major attractions in Dublin. It’s set up on a loop and circles around the city. Everything is really close together.

We saw Dublin Castle…


Only remaining turret of the original Dublin Castle built in the 1100s. The rest is “new” at the 16-17th cent.
I said to someone, I wish I had a euro for everytime I saw a harp depicted anywhere. Then they said "but there's a harp on the back of every Irish euro." I said, "my POINT exactly!!"
I said to someone, I wish I had a euro for every time I saw a harp depicted anywhere. Then they said “but there’s a harp on the back of every Irish euro.” I said, “my POINT exactly!!”
Throne room at Dublin Castle
Throne room at Dublin Castle
This chandelier is special because it represents a truce between the United Kingdom. You can’t see it here, but it is entwined with shamrocks, thistles and roses; each a national symbol of Ireland, Scotland and England respectively.
This chandelier is special because it represents a truce between the United Kingdom. You can’t see it here, but it is entwined with shamrocks, thistles and roses; each a national symbol of Ireland, Scotland and England respectively.
A rendering of what Dublin Castle looked like in the Middle ages. All that remains of this is the tower on the farthest Left-hand corner, (there’s a picture of it further down) and the remains of the “Powder Tower” which blew up because that’s where they kept the gunpowder.
A rendering of what Dublin Castle looked like in the Middle ages. All that remains of this is the tower on the farthest Left-hand corner, (there’s a picture of it further down) and the remains of the “Powder Tower” which blew up because that’s where they kept the gunpowder.
Down underground, these are the remains of the powder tower.
Down underground, these are the remains of the powder tower.
You can faintly see a filled-in wall here…
You can faintly see a filled-in wall here…
And it used to be an archway to let the river/moat flow through…
And it used to be an archway to let the river/moat flow through…

The ha’penny bridge…

The Ha’Penny bridge. Used to have to pay a half penny toll to cross it.
The Ha’Penny bridge. Used to have to pay a half penny toll to cross it.

Trinity College…

Trinity College
Trinity College
Brian Boru Harp
Ahhhhhh. Now THIS, people, was my pilgrimage. Believe it or not, this is one of the main reasons why I came to Ireland. This is the Brian Boru Harp that is depicted on the Irish coin and on every pint of Guinness. This picture you are looking at is contraband. There was no photography allowed in this area, but i did ask for permission. After a little teasing the supervisor said it would be ok. 😛

Christ Church…

Christ Church. Ireland is lousy with churches. They all kind of start to look the same after a while, but this one is particularly massive.
Christ Church windows
Christ Church windows
Dublin city's coat of arms
Dublin city’s coat of arms
Chirst Church is famous for housing the heart of the… patron saint?… of Dublin. Cant be sure… but as you can see it’s well protected.
This was more interesting to me than the heart. It’s a cat and a rat, mummified. The sign under it says that they found them in the organ pipes, presumably chasing each other. It’s amazing what you find when you clean your house!
This was more interesting to me than the heart. It’s a cat and a rat, mummified. The sign under it says that they found them in the organ pipes, presumably chasing each other. It’s amazing what you find when you clean your house!
Girl in the stocks
Emma, an Arcadia student, very sad about being in the stocks in Christ Church crypt
Tomb of Strongbow
Tomb of Strongbow (I cut off his head, dang it.) Is there a dead body in there?

Guinness Brewery / Museum

Took a visit to the Guinness Storehouse!!
Took a visit to the Guinness Storehouse!!
This photo doesn’t look very interesting, but the ground is actually covered with barley; one of the main ingredients of Guinness.
This photo doesn’t look very interesting, but the ground is actually covered with barley; one of the main ingredients of Guinness.
Second and Third ingredient is Hops and Yeast…
Last is Water… from the Wicklow Mountains, apparently.
Last is Water… from the Wicklow Mountains, apparently.

“Tasting Lab” ….riiiiight. That’s a lab job I could get on board with!
“Tasting Lab” ….riiiiight. That’s a lab job I could get on board with!
There was and exhibit on how they made these casks for the beer.
There was and exhibit on how they made these casks for the beer.
Mini model of what the factory looked like in 1987.
Mini model of what the factory looked like in 1987.

Said to be the harp that Hempson used.
Said to be the harp that Hempson used.

That evening we went out for dinner and drinks with some of the other kids in the Arcadia program. It’s worth mentioning that some of these kids were under 21, and were super excited about being able to drink in bars. I was already of age, and generally hung out with older friends that were more mature about drinking… but some of these kids were off the hook and got super drunk that night. The next morning, all of us were standing in the lobby waiting for everyone to come down for the next part of our trip. We were to take a bus out to Powerscourt and Glendalough. We were still missing one boy… he hadn’t come down yet. So me an a couple other girls went up to his room, and he was still asleep. We shake him really hard and he finally rouses… and he says, drunkenly “Why are my pants all wet?” Yeah, he pissed himself in his sleep! We stuff him into a new pair of pants, drag him out to the bus and tuck him in with a bottle of water. He seemed to pull through okay the rest of the day. Hangovers are different when you’re young, I guess.

The River Liffey!
The gang at the Vat House… drinkin the night away. Left to Right– Emma Sharon Mary James ( JT )

So, on with our trip! Today, we went to Powerscourt and Glendalough. Both are beautiful.

Powerscourt is an incredible estate. There is a mansion on the grounds, but it is not the main feature. It was privately owned up until the 1970, and the interior was destroyed by a fire. The primary feature is its beautiful gardens. We were visiting in late February, so spring was just kicking off. The temperatures were mild, but we still needed to wear jackets. It would have been nice to see the estate in full-bloom during the summer. I actually went back to Powerscourt for my Honeymoon four years later, but it was late February again! I’ll have pictures for that trip too somewhere, and will post them when I have time.

This is a picture of a model. This is what the Powerscourt mansion’s ballroom looked like before a fire in the 70’s burnt most of the building.
This is a picture of a model. This is what the Powerscourt mansion’s ballroom looked like before a fire in the 70’s burnt most of the building.
The ballroom is the only room that is fully restored and open to the public.

We picked up a few Arcadia/butler student while we were in Dublin and invited them along to see Powerscourt and Glendalough.
Statue of Goddess Diana hunting her stag.
We picked up a few Arcadia/butler student while we were in Dublin and invited them along to see Powerscourt and Glendalough.

Me and Eden
Small tower on the Powerscourt estate. It’s not a real ruin, it’s basically a giant lawn-ornament. When you climb to the top, you are treated with a magnificent view of the mansion and the gardens.
doorway into the tower… climb to the top… (Meet Eden. She was the only other girl in the Arcadia program that was also in Derry with me. We got to be good friends.)
top looking down. No fake ruin is complete without fake cannons!
top of tower, view of the Powerscourt mansion. Impressive, no?
I took this picture because I left Minnesota in a frozen wasteland with snow a foot deep, and landed in Ireland where the pretty flowers were blooming.
The Asian Gardens are really well done.

View of the stairs leading up to the back of the mansion and the small lake with a Poseidon fountain in the middle. This is Powerscourt’s most iconic look.
Pegasus? there’s a twin facing him on the other side.
Fountain of Poseidon, different angle.
Fountain of Poseidon, different angle.
The headstone reads “Doodles Chow”. You might think “That’s a strange name for your kid.” But this is the name of the family dog. They had a little cemetery just for their pets. They even buried horses, ponies… and their prize milking cow!!
The headstone reads “Doodles Chow”. You might think “That’s a strange name for your kid.” But this is the name of the family dog. They had a little cemetery just for their pets. They even buried horses, ponies… and their prize milking cow!!

Next, we went to Glendalough which is a natural park with hiking combined with very old monastery ruins.

Ahhhhh. Glendolough is literally translated as “Valley of Two Lakes”… this is one of the lakes here.
This is the second one. Beautiful scenery in here, but it was only February. Once things start to bloom I’m sure it’s twice as pretty.
Robin in a tree. I got really close to him before he flew away. Seemed to be friendly!
Gateway into the monastery.
This old cemetery is said to hold the remains of St. Kevin, the founder of this monastery. However the whereabouts of Saintly relics are closely guarded by the church to preserve their remains. No one really knows where St. Kevin is…
Celtic Crosses. Someone asked the tour guide what the significance of the symbol is. She said “Well, no one really knows, but here are three (of many) theories: Pagans worshiped the sun as a deity and the Christians added the ring (to symbolize sun) to the cross in order to appeal to the Pagan crowd -or- The ring represents everlasting life, renewal, and resurrection -or- It keeps the arms of the cross from breaking off. (That’s the practical explanation, and I like that one. hahaha)
One of the most complete round towers in existence in Ireland. It is said to be used as a bell tower and maybe a look-out too. The door that you see here is actually about 15-20 feet off the ground and used to be accessed by ladder… now all the flooring inside is rotted out leaving it just an empty cylinder.

Church ruins.

This church is made entirely of stone–even the roof, which is why it’s still standing!
Inside of the stone church. Very damp, cold and drafty

Featured Image : Flickr

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