We docked yesterday morning at Dublin and took a tour of the city and some of its environs. We drove out to Castletown House, a massive Georgian estate from the early 1700s, and took a guided walking tour through it. It was striking to see a bust of George Washington there, dating to roughly the period of his death. Clearly, this wasn’t a pro-British family; instead, they favored Irish independence. I suppose they saw a kindred spirit in Washington.
We drove past the building (formerly a hotel) where James Joyce met his wife. We drove past the massive Guinness brewery. The Guinness family were, for a long time, major contributors to the quality of life in Dublin; they’re apparently no longer involved in the company, and may no longer live in the area. We visited Christ Church Cathedral. We walked the grounds of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, belonging to the Protestant Church of Ireland, where Jonathan Swift (“A Modest Proposal,” Gulliver’s Travels, etc.) served as dean and, ultimately, was buried.
Most exciting to me, we went to the library of Trinity College, Dublin. It’s the repository of the famous Book of Kells, a magnificently illuminated manuscript, dating to roughly 800 AD or perhaps a bit earlier, of the four New Testament gospels in Latin. (Several other related manuscripts, likewise illuminated, are also on display.) I’ve always wanted to see the Book of Kells. And, upstairs, we walked through the “Long Room” of the library, stocked with several stories of leather-bound volumes and with tables displaying letters and journals and memorabilia from Nobel laureates associated with Trinity College, including the dramatist Samuel Beckett and several physicists.
(No photographs, owing to Internet frustrations. If I get around to it, they’ll come later – perhaps only when I get home.)