Temple Bar

It’s touristy. That’s what I heard before and during my study abroad experience. Go to Temple Bar but explore other areas, because it feels touristy, the drinks are expensive, and it’s crowded. That’s all mostly true. I travelled around Dublin in kind of a backwards style. I left the “touristy” stuff for the end of my trip rather than the beginning. Temple Bar is a lot of fun and it’s a good location in part of the city I hadn’t spent much time. That was one of the reasons I decided that my final hostel would be in Temple Bar. Yes, it is crowded, drinks can be expensive, but I loved the energetic vibe in the area. Countless restaurants and pubs offer daily live Irish dancing or songs. Their music pours out from open doors and windows on to the street, mixed with the sound of people clapping their hands to the beat. Laughter rings like a bell and there’s so much to see and do. It’s a very fun place.

Temple Bar is both the name of a specific bar and the area of Dublin, where the bar resides. The Temple Bar is named after Sir William Temple whose face rests on a plaque on the outside of the building. This specific bar is actually quite large and always packed with people. I never did grab a pint there, but I did take loads of pictures and honestly it is known to be overpriced. I went to more “old man bars” as our program director described them, and I enjoyed them a lot.

I loved the music, laughter, and art that makes up the heart of Temple Bar. This post contains pictures that really can speak for themselves as Temple Bar has countless murals and works of art. As someone who loves art, this felt like home to me.

Enjoy the photos below and make sure you scroll to the bottom to listen to some Irish pub music.

I did drop in to the area a handful of times throughout the program, finding a side street to examine here and there. So, this post is not all from one day or outing, but from a handful. You can see the time change in a photo of a mural I took as two weeks after I initially photographed it, someone tagged it.

I took this photo a few weeks after the one above it. 

Temple Bar

Since June is Pride month and Dublin’s pride parade was on June 30th, the streets were decorated with more and more rainbows as time went on. Sadly, I would not be in Dublin for pride but it’s on my bucket list to come back and see the parade in the future.

It was also during one of those random walkthroughs on an afternoon after classes let out that I photographed the outside of a bar. A man was leaning against the door of the bar and welcomed me and Will, another Pitt student, inside. It was only about three in the afternoon and the bar had just opened but we decided that we would just wing it and go inside. A man sat in the corner, acoustic guitar in his hands. The bartender, who invited us in, explained that we were photographing outside. The man with the guitar said it was much nicer inside, because you can have a pint. Fair enough. We bought a pint and what happened next is one of my favorite memories in Dublin.

The bar was empty, just us for at least forty minutes. We drank some Guinness and talked with the man holding the guitar. He and I shared the same sense of humor and bantered back and forth. He liked that I actually knew Irish history and I seemed to get a pass in his book. When the bartender wrangled more people in, he made witty jokes, often at their expense but in all good fun (Irish humor is very funny). Once the bar filled up, he sipped his beer and began to sing. We sat in the bar listening to song after song. At some point another American joined our table, he was just in Dublin for a little bit and we gave him some suggestions and shared a pint with him. The hours flew by.

Trinity College

One of my favorite things about studying at Pitt is the Cathedral of Learning, our beloved Cathy. Walking through the first floor to secure a study spot on an uncomfortable wooden bench or walking along the second floor, peering over the edges to the bottom is enough to make one feel like they are in a magical castle, Pittsburgh’s very own Hogwarts. The outside of Trinity, with gray stones and impressive architecture looked beautiful and reminded me of my favorite place on campus back home.

Throughout the trip from friends and loved ones I was bombarded with the same question: “Have you seen the book of Kells yet?!” Seeing the book of Kells and joining a tour was definitely in my plans but I left my visit until the end of my stay in Ireland. The farewell dinner had come and gone, and I was now without classes and classwork. I had my last days packed with activities, including a trip to Trinity.

We learned a ton from our tour guide, a sophomore who is fluent in Italian (and two other languages) and gives tours in Italian as well. This fact amazed me. While I studied German at Pitt, I couldn’t imagine giving a tour of Cathy to native German speakers. Although, several Germans I met through my travels complimented my German and said I knew more than I thought. I think they were being nice, but anyway…

Trinity is a large campus with its main entrance right next to tram lines and near busy shopping districts and government buildings. The main entrance is a large wooden door and once through that door, you are met by the open campus, with green grass, people galore, and more lovely architecture.

The tour guides stand at a little booth next to the greens taking visitor after visitor for tours or selling tickets to see the library and book of Kells. They wear brown robes that strike an image of Harry Potter robes, and in fact, our tour guide made that very same joke. She explained that all tour guides wear them, and it was expected until I believe the 1970’s, that all undergraduates would wear their robes at all times on campus.

The students in the brown robes are tour guides.

Much of the tour discussed the architecture. One of our group’s favorite facts regarded the payment of architects. Three times those in charge of planning/building did not pay the architects who drew extensive building plans. They are beautiful buildings! Poor architects.

My personal favorite fact, which horrified the Americans on the tour (me included), involves the graduation ceremony. In the States, we are lined up alphabetically. At Trinity, they are lined up based on highest to lowest exam scores, which means everyone knows the first and last student at graduation by means of score. I’ll stick to alphabetical order, thanks.

The student body is a very superstitious group. We were told of several superstitions while on our tour. A bell tower sits between two large green spaces on the campus. If a student passes under it while it rings, the superstition goes that they will fail all of their exams.

My tour coincided with a strange time at Trinity. The two lawns next to the bell tower were roped off, a large tree stump protruding from the green grass around it. I knew this before the tour as I kept up with Irish news. In June, a 170-year-old Oregon Maple tree collapsed and crashed onto the lawn. This was a sad occurrence for locals and students. The tree was a common sight, the lawn normally open to students, now closed off as the tree was removed and the other maple on the opposite lawn examined for diseases. I had visited the campus very briefly at the beginning of my program to take a peek and saw the lawn before it had collapsed. Sadly, I didn’t take a photo of the lawn as I had planned to come back. There was a collective mourning at the loss of the familiar tree. Our tour guide explained that all students received an email about the loss of the tree and the sadness was shared among students, faculty, and staff. You can see the stump in my photos as well as its sister tree on the other lawn, what it would have looked like before its demise.

Once the tour concluded, we thanked our tour guide and continued on our way to line up for the entrance to the Book of Kells. Photography is allowed intermittently through this area of the library. The room in which the Book of Kells sits is off limits to photography. I strictly follow museum rules regarding photography. It is a privilege to shoot, not a right. There were a handful of people who seemed ready to break this rule, but the room has a permanent guard to watch the guests crowded around the glass table to get a glimpse of the ancient book.

Since I don’t have an image of the Book of Kells, I’ll explain a little about it. It is an illuminated manuscript which contains four gospels of the New Testament. It is believed that the book was created around the 9th century. The book is believed to have been created on Iona, a small island off of Scotland, and brought to Ireland during a Viking raid to preserve it.

I quite enjoyed the book for its beauty and history.

After squeezing in between the multitude of people to get a good, long look at the book, I left the room to visit the long room, a massive library containing 200,000 old books. The room is a dark wood with book shelves on multiple levels. Lining the shelves are busts of famous academics and important historical figures such as Shakespeare, Socrates, and Robert Boyle. The room bears a striking resemblance to the Jedi Archives in Episode II of Star Wars.

I loved the long room but hated how many people used flash photography, which is prohibited. Several times people had to be told to stop taking flash photos. It’s my pet peeve as you can see. 

Countless photos later, I left the long room and took more pictures of the campus before leaving.

The statue pictured below is of George Salmon provost of the college from 1888-1904. He actually paid for that statue to be built. He is known for the decision to allow women to begin studying at Trinity despite his very strong personal opinion that women should not study or be admitted. He only agreed under pressure. He died before he had to see women study at Trinity, as in 1904, after his death, the first women were admitted. His own daughter ended up studying at Trinity. There is a bit of tradition for the graduating women at trinity to take pictures sitting on his lap, leaving lipstick kisses on his cheek.

My suggestion: Go to Trinity and enjoy a nice tour and the beauty of the library. You won’t be disappointed.

Céad Míle Fáilte: Welcome to My Blog!

Today is my second day in Ireland. It was a busy day. Before I dive into the details, I want to describe my first day in the Emerald Isle. 

Day one started early. On May 23rd, I flew from Pittsburgh to New York. After a layover, I had a seven hour flight over night to Dublin. I was tired from three days in a row of little sleep as I squeezed in last minute doctor's appointments I'd been neglecting over the semester, packing, and final days at work. I assumed that I would be able to sleep on the plane, but try as I might I could barely sleep for more than twenty minutes. Early in the morning, around 5:35 Dublin time, the pilot announced that we would be landing. I opened up the window covering, hoping to catch a sight of the green expanses, but it was a mostly cloudy, overcast morning with thick gray clouds hanging low. Finally, as we approached the runaway, I saw patchwork spaces of greens. It almost felt like a dream as the wheels touched down on the runway. I felt exhausted from the previous days but I couldn't help but feel my bubbling excitement. 

After we landed, the passengers filed our way into the airport, a handful of cranky babies cried (bless their parents) and sleepily we made our way to the immigration section of the airport. After I made it through the checkpoint, I arrived at the luggage carousel, hoping for a quick turn around. I sat on the floor for an hour, trying not to nod off. I had thoughts of hot showers and fresh bed sheets dancing in my mind. I watched a cute toddler run between her parents with her jelly legs wobbling at the effort. Her smile stretched across her face and her curls bounced as her father scooped her up in his arms. I smiled watching them; it helped the time pass and it was nice to see someone appreciating the early hour. 

After about an hour the luggage began pouring out, black, floral, animal print, all kinds of bags tumbled out. I grabbed my bags (I packed a lot because what if I need those extra thirty pairs of socks?!). I am a planner, someone who likes schedules and order in my life. My packing backs this up. Anyway, after grabbing my bags I pushed the luggage cart out to the buses lined up outside. I bought my ticket which would take me closest to the hostel.

I want to take a moment to say how much I appreciate public transportation. The bus was filled with fellow travelers from my flight who were heading to their hostels and hotels. Most of us were searching maps, reading emails, checking text messages and google maps for where exactly we were supposed to be dropped off. The bus driver took a minute before we took of to explain how buses work and payment works in Ireland. We clamored on with bulky suitcases and bags and stuffed them on the bus luggage rack and sat down. She called out each stop and helped travelers figure out the best stops for them. When I got off my stop, the next to last, I pulled out my phone hoping to figure out which direction I needed to go. Before she left, the bus driver asked the group of us who just stepped off if we knew which way to go. I told her the name of my hostel and she spent a quick minute detailing the directions I would need to take. She gave me a smile and continued her directions even as the doors closed. This was my first of so far many encounters of Dubliners being so helpful and kind to me as a traveler. I'm used to Americans being categorized as friendly, but this felt like a personal and individualized encounter. I take the bus daily in Pittsburgh and am confident in navigating the sometimes tricky world of public transport. Despite this, it was still nerve-wracking to be so tired in a country I was unfamiliar with to try and navigate the streets and bus routes. The bus driver left when I thanked her and heading in the direction she described. 

With slow and heavy steps, I made my way to the hostel. I scoured the internet to try and find an affordable and nice hostel. I was most nervous about this. I value sleep and privacy. I would be spending the duration of my stay in a six person room in a bunkbed with a shared bathroom and shower. I wouldn't know who I was rooming with until they showed up to claim their bunk. It would be a while until I met them. I hobbled my way to the hostel, my energy dissipating with each step and finally arrived. I had four hours before my check in. Luckily, my hostel has a spacious common area on the ground floor with tables and chairs, couches, a bar, and even a pool table. I slumped into the couch and slept for four hours in a disjointed mess of limbs and uncombed hair. 

When check in came, I raced up to my room and took a swift shower, washing travel away. I then proceeded to sleep for the majority of the day. Throughout the day various hostel-mates trickled in but I barely registered the door swinging open. I did force myself to eat late at night before the hostel dinning hours closed, not having eaten since breakfast on the plane at 4 a.m. The food in this hostel is amazing. Let me explain with a picture of my dinner from the first night. A picture says a thousand words after all. 

The Avo Burger at Generator Hostel in Dublin

The Avo Burger at Generator Hostel in Dublin

After dinner, I walked about fifteen minutes to where I would be staying once classes begin next week. I circled back toward my hostel and explored the area close by, calling it a night not long after. This photo is the only one I managed to take my first day in Dublin. Since I spent the majority of my day sleeping. 

As far as my hostel-mates, everyone is great and super conscientious of noise and space. Only one hostel-mate and I have not said hello because either one of us have been asleep while the other is awake.  Of the five in the room, two are Germans, one is Canadian, and two are American. The five of us had a laugh this morning, discovering that the small and so far inaccessible balcony attached to our room has a discarded pair of boxers shorts resting there from a previous tenant.

Day two proved to be more enriching and tiring in its own way. I have yet to purchase a bus pass and have been waking to all my destinations, which I love! This gives me a chance to pull out my camera and document street life. I am obsessed with museums of all kinds. I had a quick breakfast in the hostel and drowned myself in sweet, sweet life giving coffee and headed out to my first stop of my busy day. There are numerous museums in Dublin and since I was still recovering from the exhaustion of travel, I wanted to head to a close one. The nearest one was around ten minutes away called the National Museum of Ireland. I headed that way with my camera in tow excited to begin photographing my adventure. To my delight, the museum had free admission. I was behind a group of Irish school students on a field trip and began to make my way though the museum. As I pulled out my camera, I realized my batteries had been left in another bag back at the hostel. Not wanting to delay, I took my phone and headed into the display rooms. 

I didn't look up what the museum offered before arriving. I wanted to be surprised, plus it was so close. The museum detailed a lot of the political and military history of Ireland with some interactive displays. This was incredibly exciting to me as this was one of my focuses in studying Irish History. 

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This figure depicts a prisoner captured in 1798 after the United Irishmen Rebellion. The plaque next to him posed two options for his fate, either execution or because of his age, he would be sent as a prisoner to Australia. 

This figure depicts a prisoner captured in 1798 after the United Irishmen Rebellion. The plaque next to him posed two options for his fate, either execution or because of his age, he would be sent as a prisoner to Australia. 

One of my favorite parts of the museum was the interactive display of old guns. After you picked one up, the screen displayed the proper way they were used and handled. Next to the guns was a wooden block depicting the result of the bullet on contact with a human. 

One of my favorite parts of the museum was the interactive display of old guns. After you picked one up, the screen displayed the proper way they were used and handled. Next to the guns was a wooden block depicting the result of the bullet on contact with a human. 

Later in the museum I had fun with another display. One of the museum workers saluted me when he saw me and told me I was a soldier now. 

Later in the museum I had fun with another display. One of the museum workers saluted me when he saw me and told me I was a soldier now. 

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The remains of a B-17 engine that crashed in 1943. 

The remains of a B-17 engine that crashed in 1943. 

After the museum, I headed back to the hostel to pick up my batteries. The next stop was Dublin Castle for a guided tour. On the way I took some pictures on the street. For a background, right now Ireland is buzzing with news of the upcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment. I've been reading a lot about this topic in the recent weeks as a multitude of news agencies are covering it. I was not prepared for the amount of signage regarding the amendment on the street. It was as if every post had at least one poster either for or against repealing it, sometimes there were multiple signs stacked on top of each other. Here are a few pictures I took while heading to the castle. 

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You can see in this picture the posts down from the one upfront have similar signs all the way down. 

You can see in this picture the posts down from the one upfront have similar signs all the way down. 

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May 25th (tomorrow) is the referendum. 

Here are a few other sights on the way to the castle. 

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The signs feature both Gaelic and English!

The signs feature both Gaelic and English!

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A statue dedicated to children born after/of the Millennium. 

A statue dedicated to children born after/of the Millennium. 

It began to rain just as I made it to the castle. 

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Our tour guide James took us down into the underground of what was once the wall surrounding Dublin Castle. Where we stood would be where the moat once ran. The rocks here are the side of the wall and James is standing in front of the steps that lead to the entrance. 

Our tour guide James took us down into the underground of what was once the wall surrounding Dublin Castle. Where we stood would be where the moat once ran. The rocks here are the side of the wall and James is standing in front of the steps that lead to the entrance. 

The steps were purposefully made uneven to hinder the advance of enemies should they try to climb. 

The steps were purposefully made uneven to hinder the advance of enemies should they try to climb. 

This building is the private chapel on the grounds, originally made to be an Anglican church. 

This building is the private chapel on the grounds, originally made to be an Anglican church. 

Cromwell, who is not a happy historical memory for most Irish people, is listed here. 

Cromwell, who is not a happy historical memory for most Irish people, is listed here. 

The chapel has the names of British leaders sent to manage Ireland from Dublin Castle. 

The chapel has the names of British leaders sent to manage Ireland from Dublin Castle. 

Apparently, Bram Stoker worked in this building! It's now a government building. 

Apparently, Bram Stoker worked in this building! It's now a government building. 

Fun Story! The harp is the national symbol of Ireland and the national color is blue not green! When the Republic of Ireland went to make the harp the symbol they discovered that Guinness had copyrighted that symbol over a hundred years earlier. So to satisfy this situation, Dublin's Government flipped the harp. If you look up Guinness, the harp faces the other way!

Fun Story! The harp is the national symbol of Ireland and the national color is blue not green! When the Republic of Ireland went to make the harp the symbol they discovered that Guinness had copyrighted that symbol over a hundred years earlier. So to satisfy this situation, Dublin's Government flipped the harp. If you look up Guinness, the harp faces the other way!

The interior had so much gold!

The interior had so much gold!

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Gold on Gold on Gold on Gold!

Gold on Gold on Gold on Gold!

In addition to the gold, each room had beautiful and unique chandeliers. This was one of my favorites. 

In addition to the gold, each room had beautiful and unique chandeliers. This was one of my favorites. 

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One of the most interesting parts of the castle was the room that featured those executed in the 1916 Uprising. It was such a stark change from royal opulance to plain portraits hanging on a wall of men who were executed. 

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I enjoyed Dublin Castle and plan to head back to explore the gardens and the art gallery on loan from Connecticut which features art depicting the Irish Famine. 

After my outings I came back to enjoy my first pint of Guinness and Fish and chips in my hostel and to listen to live music from a local band. 

I will admit I am not usually a huge fan of Guinness. It's my Irish sin, I know. I LOVED this pint. It tasted great paired with dinner. 

I will admit I am not usually a huge fan of Guinness. It's my Irish sin, I know. I LOVED this pint. It tasted great paired with dinner. 

I could not finish this all! I did give it my college best. 

I could not finish this all! I did give it my college best. 

While eating and enjoying my pint I listened to Fenton Blue, an Irish Alt-Rock band. 

While eating and enjoying my pint I listened to Fenton Blue, an Irish Alt-Rock band. 

It's been an eventful day and I'm tired! I can't wait to post more from my adventures. Stay tuned as I update my blog. Also watch out for the gallery of all the extra pictures that didn't make this post! And I also want to take a moment to thank all those who helped make the beginning of this adventure great (thank you bus driver and hostel-mates), my University's study abroad program, and the Nationality Room Committee/Irish Room scholarship. I cannot express my gratitude for this opportunity enough.