Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Welcome to Ireland

  Day one of London Away begins with a cold but pretty walking tour around Dublin. Starting at the famous statue of James Joyce, who was considered one of the most influential novelist and writers of the early 20th century, we made our way around some of the most historical monuments. The Spire of Dublin was stunning with it's incredible pin-like figure reaching around 120 meters into the sky.
Earning the name the "Monument of Light" it is the worlds tallest sculpture. What our tour guide didn't tell us is the number of nicknames it has throughout the city like "the stelleto of the ghetto." On the same street stands another famous monument of Daniel O'Connell, a liberator who strongly campaigned for the Catholic Emancipation.
He had an extremely large part in banning personal laws and discrimination. His body is buried in Ireland yet his heart is said to rest in Italy. Also on O'Connell street is the General Post Office where most of the fighting took place in 1916. If you look at the walls there is still indentions from bullets. We had a relaxing rest break at St Stephens Green Park that had a pretty scenery with healthy plants everywhere and ducks swimming around the pond. The old building that used to be Irelands Parliament now serves as the Bank of Ireland and was the first purposely two chambered parliament house.
It holds a large part of Ireland's history and their independence issues with the British. Right across the street, the tour lead us back into Trinity College which appealed to me because up until that point I didn't understand what a large part Trinity College had in Ireland's history. The foundation was laid in 1592 and has been the home of education to many of Ireland's most prominent figures since. It is one of the oldest and prestigious universities in the world and only in the 19th century they began admitting Catholics. Although Catholics were allowed to attend they still had to have a letter from an archbishop to fully enroll We strolled past the Gaiety theatre
that has been a hotspot for talent and entertainment since 1871. Around this street were performers singing and playing instruments that were incredibly better than expected. A well known statue is Phillip P Lynott, the frontman of an Irish rock band as seen with our tour guide.

At the end of Grafton street, the famous legend of Molly Malone is captured with her statue, leaving the scandalous ways of being a hawker during the day and a prostitute at night a mystery.
The Our walking tour ended with the beautiful scenery of the Dublin Castle that was constructed in the 13th century and at one time was home to the Irish Monarchy. The different sides of the castles are all based on different time periods.
It's not everyday that you see giant castles when just walking around the neighborhood.
  Later on after lunch we returned to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Just the fact it was written in the 9th century and still kept together was amazing. They only change the pages about every three to four months because given the age of the book the less handling the better. The gospel manuscript was written around 800 a.d and tells the series of events such as the Arrest of Christ, the Virgin and Child, St Matthew and St John. Originally, the book was one volume but later on separated into four. At Trinity College there were two on display, one had very elaborate art that represented the Portrait of Christ and the Eight-Circle Cross. The other volume was all text, the Great tribulation, the Lord's return in glory, and the parable of the budding fig-tree. On top of seeing the Book of Kells there was also a section from the Book of Armagh and the Book of Durrow. The exhibition not only had books on display but an area that went into more detailed information. There were facts such as the pages were made out of calves skin, colors were distracted from certain types of rock that happen to be from all different parts of the world, and what I find most interesting is that no one still knows exactly who wrote the book just that it was Irish monks. After the exhibition the class went on to the Old Library's Long room which stretched 65 meters and contains 200,000 of the oldest books from the 15th to 19th century that Trinity owns. Trinity College has quite an elaborate collection considering they can copyright any book published in Ireland and Britain. On display in the Long Room was The School of Medicine exhibition that had a wide assortment of artifacts such as the death mask of Johnathan Swift, a signature from Michael Kearney as Master in 1726, Hutchinson's Illustration of Clinical Surgery, and many portraits of people that have made a difference in the history of medicine.

-Taylor Gentry

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