Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale


Book of Kells

May 23

Today was our last full day in Ireland. We depart the hotel tomorrow morning around 6 a.m. to head for the airport and wing our way west.

This morning, we roused the troops early enough for a somewhat leisurely breakfast from the hotel's buffet, and then we had a short walk down the street (about three blocks) to the entrance of Trinity College, bypassing an already long line which had formed in the inner courtyard of the college library -- all waiting to see the Book of Kells. We just rolled right in -- no waiting at all! When we came out, the line had grown to three times its length, and when Mother saw it, she asked if that was the line to enter. When we said, yes, it was, she exclaimed, "THANK YOU, Molly!"


Breakfast at Trinity City Hotel

Page from the Book of Kells

A detail from the Chi Rho page of the Book of Kells -- showing mice playing tug-of-war
with the Eucharist as two cats watch (photography of the Book is not allowed - this image is from
an iPad app authorized by Trinity College - click here for more information)

Mom really liked the Book of Kells exhibit. We all did. We absorbed every detail we could of an exhibit preceding the entry to a darkened room where two of four books of the Book of Kells are displayed. (Showing only two pages.) The exhibit explained some of the symbolism found in the pages of the illuminated manuscripts, the methods used by the monks and scribes who created it (i.e., how they noted errors or corrections), and the natural substances which were used to create the pigments on the page of vellum. Some of the colors were made with compounds which were toxic. The pages of the book itself are made from vellum, or calf skin, and the exhibit briefly explained how that was done -- it is estimated that the entire book would have required skins from about 185 calves. A brief video also demonstrated how books were bound hundreds of years ago, and that was fascinating to see. Also included in the introductory exhibit was a chronology of events related to the book's creation and its eventual preservation at Trinity College. (It was squirreled away and hidden during the time of Oliver Cromwell, when so many religious items were destroyed.) I asked Mother if she really thought that Cromwell would be so cruel and stupid to destroy a treasure such as the ancient book of Kells, and without hesitation, she said, "Yes, he would.")

Mom had as much time as she wanted to linger over all of it. This stop was on her bucket list, after all, and one of the things she has longed to see on her other trips to Ireland but had not done until today. 

After we left the room which exhibited the Book, we were encouraged to continue to an upper level of the library – the Long Room, which I mistakenly judged not to be of interest based on the answer from one of the docents roaming the room. I asked him if there were illuminated manuscripts upstairs, and he replied in a rather disinterested way, "No. Just printed books." But when we asked a different docent (a young man with nice dimples) to help us get the wheelchair back out, he asked if we were not going to the Long Room. When we said we weren't, he replied, "Oh, you must!" He insisted. He explained that it was not just a collection of "printed books" but it also housed the invaluable "Brian Boru harp" and an original 1916 proclamation of Ireland's independence.

And he was right. We DID want to go up there. It was incredible to see those two things. Mother stared at the proclamation for a long time, and Sara read most of it to her. Later, as we were exiting the exhibit for real, we saw the same young man who had insisted we go upstairs, and Mother said to him, "I thank you. My parents thank you, and my grandparents thank you!" The proclamation is an especially significant piece of history this year because it is the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising which followed the proclamation of independence. The harp, known as the "Brian Boru harp" (he was the first King of Ireland) is a magnificent Irish harp, believed to be the oldest in existence though not really as old as it would need to be to truly be linked to Brian Boru (who died in 1014.) Experts think that the harp dates to the 15th century and probably belonged to a master musician. It is such a fine specimen that it serves as the model for the official symbol of Ireland, depicted on currency and other things (such as perhaps the Guinness beers?)

Trinity College Harp

Trinity College Harp

1916 Proclamation

1916 Proclamation

Thanking the docent

Mother, thanking the young man who insisted that we include the Long Room on our tour

After we exited the Book of Kells exhibit, we did a little perusing in the gift shop and then went back to the hotel with our booty and for a brief rest with some tea and more water for all. Then we went out again and caught one of the hop-on-hop-off buses and rode around the city. It was interesting, but the streets are so congested with traffic, and with us sitting on the lower level of the two-level bus (we weren't going ask Mom to try the steps to the top), we got only a second-rate view of things. We either missed their pointing out the Post Office (focal point of the battles of the 1916 Rising) or switched buses at that point in the route (the bus we were on ended its tour at one point and everyone had to get off and get on the next bus to continue the tour.) The Phoenix Park was pretty amazing -- nearly a thousand acres of open meadows, fields, residence of the president and of the American ambassador, and home to a herd of fallow deer, which are tame enough to come up to people and nibble food out of their hands.

As the bus made its way back toward the place where we had boarded near Trinity College, we departed at a stop which allowed us to make a short walk to see Molly Malone's statue. There is always a crowd of people around her, taking photos, most posing in lewd ways to cradle her amble breasts, which are polished to a shiny brassy tone from all the groping.

We made a few more stops at souvenir shops, and then we trudged back the hotel again with (yet more) booty. After depositing things in our room, we went down to the restaurant, ate an early dinner and retreated to our rooms to start the battle of getting it all back in the suitcases. 

Roberta captures a leprechaun

Roberta captures a leprechaun

With our taxi already ordered to pick us up at 6 a.m., I plan to pop out of bed around 4:30, take a shower and try to get a cup of (instant) coffee in me. We plan to get a bite to eat after we get to the airport.

Our flight is scheduled to depart from here at 9:55 a.m. Dublin time and arrive in Charlotte around 1:05 p.m. We have slightly less than a two-hour layover in Charlotte and should be in Indy by 4:30 p.m. I hope this leg of the trip is easier for Mom than the getting here. She said nothing is hurting her today (i.e., not her hip or back, but of course her foot hurts if she puts weight on it when not wearing the boot.) She can't move quickly, but she can walk with support beside her. We have limited that as much as we can. We'll be giving up the wheelchair tomorrow (thank goodness it and its box fit in our car so we can simply box it up and leave for the courier to pick up!)

We have been trying to help Mom remember which foot to use first when going up and down the stairs -- therapists generally advise that, when going down the stairs, you should lead with the weak foot/leg and when going up, you should lead with the strong leg. One of the bus drivers at Newgrange gave us a better way to remember it: "The good leg goes to heaven. The bad leg goes to hell."

Based on that advice, I think this entire trip was made with a good leg!

Our last breakfast in Ireland

Our last breakfast - at the Dublin Airport prior to our departure.
From left: Martha Clark, Roberta Clark, Sara Burrus, Molly Daniel, Annis Householder

This concludes the travelogue for the 2016 trip.

If you have not had enough, you can read Roberta's account of her trip in 2001 with Molly and Sara:

2001 Trip

Or visit the Galleries to view more photos.

The Epilogue.


Other stuff and 2023 trip

This page was last edited on 09-Apr-2023

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