Galleries, Exhibits, and my Hostel!

Hello and welcome back to my travel blog! I made my first post May 24th, the day after I arrived in Dublin. A lot has happened in the three days since my last posting, both in my life and in the country. May 25th Ireland held their referendum to decide whether to keep or repeal their 8th amendment which involved abortion. Ireland’s abortion previous law was considered one of the strictest laws on abortion.

Over the weekend, the results came back with overwhelming support to repeal the amendment. At my hostel, a group of yes supporters that night celebrated with a pint and a round of pool to celebrate, the yes stickers and pins resting on the tops of their shirts and jackets. I have seen countless pins, buttons, stickers for a “yes” vote, while I’ve seen one “no” sticker. Overall, the mood here in Dublin has been one of excitement over the vote.

The day of the vote was my second day out and about in Dublin. The previous day I trekked to a museum and then headed to Dublin Castle. My first time around I was unable to visit the gardens and the exhibit currently showing behind the castle and wanted to catch up on it. The 25th I trekked back to the castle and headed around back to the garden.

Countless families and business people were enjoying the warm and sunny day with lunches and drinks. I walked along the circular path and headed into the museum. There was a stark difference between the sunny, cherry atmosphere outside and the subdued atmosphere of the museum exhibit which involved art centering around An Gorta Mór—The Great Famine. This was one of the eras I’ve studied in Irish History at Pitt. It’s a difficult and somber subject. The suffering that Ireland endured during the Famine and the years after it ended are hard to put into words. The exhibit left me feeling heavy and contemplative. I thought it did a great job educating regarding this time in Irish History.

 The visiting exhibit is on loan from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut. Over 1 million lost their lives as a result of the Famine and government policies. A further 2 million Irish emigrated to the United States, Canada, England, etc. One of the major points the exhibit made was regarding the effect the Famine had on the country, physically and spiritually. 

The visiting exhibit is on loan from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut. Over 1 million lost their lives as a result of the Famine and government policies. A further 2 million Irish emigrated to the United States, Canada, England, etc. One of the major points the exhibit made was regarding the effect the Famine had on the country, physically and spiritually. 

The museum featured art created in the years during and after the famine as well as modern depictions. In the center of the main hall a television played a recorded history lesson explaining the situation which tied back to the art surrounding us. The images, the diary readings, the heartbreak was hard to sit through just as it had been in the lecture hall when I first heard it. As I watched the images flash by the screen and listened to the recorded woman’s voice, I couldn’t shake the thought of my location, my presence inside the country so affected by the tragedy. The recorded voice reminded us watching and listening that the effects of the Famine are still here in Ireland, all these years later. 

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 The artwork featured on the banner outside. This painting was the most haunting in person to me. The anguish and exhaustion on the faces are both distrurbing and saddening. 

The artwork featured on the banner outside. This painting was the most haunting in person to me. The anguish and exhaustion on the faces are both distrurbing and saddening. 

After the exhibit, I sat outside on a bench watching pigeons and seagulls flutter around the garden, looking for scraps from local lunchers. I wanted to absorb everything I’d just seen and heard. While sitting there, I noticed a building to my left, a library, the Chester Beatty Library. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I picked up my camera bag and headed over. Immediately walking through the doors into the open space I was hit by the aromatic smells from the café, the Silk Road Café. I rented out a locker, depositing my Euro, as bags were not allowed upstairs. I ascended the steps to an art exhibit I had not realized was there. I spent an hour going through the collection, which once belonged to Chester Beatty, the namesake of the library. The exhibit was free to the public and filled with beautiful artifacts from around the world. The exhibit was filled with pages and books from ancient Egypt, Calligraphy and illustrations in Qur’ans and other religious texts, as well as art and scrolls from Japan and China. There were books and illuminated manuscripts from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Pages embroidered with golds and other bright colors outlined these ancient texts. It was breathtaking.  
The library’s collection prohibited photography so both my phone and camera stayed behind. I didn’t mind at all considering the age of the tests and artifacts. It gave me a chance to be present in the moment and soak up the information and spend time letting my eyes wander across the illustrations and pieces in the exhibit. 
 

 A few pieces sat outside the exhibit which they allowed visitors to photograph. 

A few pieces sat outside the exhibit which they allowed visitors to photograph. 

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 This was one of the temporary exhibits I also viewed in addition to the permanent exhibit. 

This was one of the temporary exhibits I also viewed in addition to the permanent exhibit. 

After the library, I headed to pick up my transit card at a local shop and then back to the hostel. I’d been walking for hours and was feeling pretty tired. Once back in the hostel, I took a nap and spent the rest of the day relaxing there. The food and atmosphere within the hostel itself are very fun. There are people studying and holidaying within the hostel from countless countries. Sometimes I have to remind myself when I am inside the hostel that I am in Ireland. I hear so much German and French spoken! Within the hostel, besides locals who come for a pint or to listen to live bands and DJs, I hear and see German travelers the most. I earned my German minor and have studied the language and culture since I was 12, so when I find myself within the presence of groups of German speakers, my brain switches over to the language. I’ve caught myself from responding to people in German like saying thank you and excuse me especially.

I wanted to end this blog post with pictures from my hostel! It has a cool, urban feel and lots of community space to eat, drink, and enjoy the company of locals and foreigners as well. I’ve felt nothing but at home within the hostel. The workers foster an environment of community here. I have stories about the openness and kindness I’ve seen, but that’s for another blog post! Here are some pictures!

 A view of the street on my way back. 

A view of the street on my way back. 

Once back in the hostel, I took a nap and spent the rest of the day relaxing there. The food and atmosphere within the hostel itself are very fun. There are people studying and holidaying within the hostel from countless countries. Sometimes I have to remind myself when I am inside the hostel that I am in Ireland. I hear so much German and French spoken! Within the hostel, besides locals who come for a pint or to listen to live bands and DJs, I hear and see German travelers the most. I earned my German minor and have studied the language and culture since I was 12, so when I find myself within the presence of groups of German speakers, my brain switches over to the language. I’ve caught myself from responding to people in German like saying thank you and excuse me especially.

I wanted to end this blog post with pictures from my hostel! It has a cool, urban feel and lots of community space to eat, drink, and enjoy the company of locals and foreigners as well. I’ve felt nothing but at home within the hostel. The workers foster an environment of community here. I have stories about the openness and kindness I’ve seen, but that’s for another blog post! Here are some pictures!

 The lobby of Generator Hostel located in Smithfield Square in Dublin. 

The lobby of Generator Hostel located in Smithfield Square in Dublin. 

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 My bed is the messy one! I share the room with five other people. It's one of the mixed gender rooms of the hostel. The six of us share a bathroom. Under the bottom bunk are two compartments labeled for each bed for storage of luggage. The basement also has a storage room for further luggage. 

My bed is the messy one! I share the room with five other people. It's one of the mixed gender rooms of the hostel. The six of us share a bathroom. Under the bottom bunk are two compartments labeled for each bed for storage of luggage. The basement also has a storage room for further luggage. 

 The Hostel features a Jameson chandelier. How cool is that!

The Hostel features a Jameson chandelier. How cool is that!

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 Jameson barrels also decorate the main gathering area. The Jameson Distillery is right next door to the hostel. 

Jameson barrels also decorate the main gathering area. The Jameson Distillery is right next door to the hostel. 

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That's all for now! My next blog posts will detail my hike and exploration of Howth, my Jameson tour, and my night with the locals!