Thursday, 15 March 2012

Dubh Linn

We slept in again today. Yep, we sure did. So sue us! After a restful morning we went for a walk to find breakfast and grab a Dublin Pass from the tourism place for Kim. The lady at the tourism place was one of the friendliest, most helpful people I have encountered ever, and it was a really nice way to start the day. We walked down to the City Hall, where our Sandemans tour was to begin at 1pm. Our guide's name was Kiel and he was from Ballarat. Exotic! But he was really friendly and a good guide. This tour was easily the longest we have been on. It went for just shy of four hours and my feet were ready to curl up and die by the end of it. But we had fun, and I shall endeavour to remember everything we saw.

First we went into City Halls, and then the courtyard of Dublin Castle, as they are right next to each other. We heard about the failed Easter Rising, standing more or less on the spot where parts of it had occurred and glimpsed the different parts of the castle - the State Apartments, which have housed Bill and Hilary Clinton and Obama among others, the Records Tower, which is the only surviving medieval section of the castle, the chapel, and the statues of Fortitude and Justice. The only man to ever escape from the Records Tower, which was at times used as a prison, was Red Hugh O'Donnell, who has quite an interesting story of his own.

We then went into the Dubh Linn gardens, which are beautiful, and look on to the amazing Chester Beatty Library. The gardens have little paths that snake through that are meant to represent river eels from when the gardens were underwater. The words 'blackpool' translate to Dubh Linn, hence the city's name - Dublin. Kiel told us about Jonathan Swift, and what a long and varied life he led, and then we saw Christchurch Cathedral (including the remains of a Norman church) and the remains of a Viking settlement marked in the ground by stones. Apparently the new city council offices were built on a priceless site of Viking remains which caused an enormous backlash.

We then walked through the Temple Bar district and saw the building where a little, unknown band called U2 won a Battle of the Bands contest. They then went for a drink at the Clarence Hotel across the street where they were refused service for being a bit scruffy looking. So when they were rich and famous they bought the hotel, sacked the rude manager, and held a free concert on the roof, for which over 100,000 people showed up.

We crossed Ha'penny Bridge and saw a hoax commemorative plaque on O'Connell Street for a fictitious man called Father Pat Noise who was in a fictitious accident that saw him fictitiously drown in the River Liffey. We went into the courtyard of Trinity College, and saw Oscar Wilde's window and heard some of the more ridiculous laws of Trinity College. I think I will go see the Book of Kells on Sunday. Trinity College boasts some of the greatest literary minds as students, and also, Courtney Love. She was expelled for selling LSD to students. We then walked to St Stephen's Green (via Bram Stoker's house!) where we saw some incredibly moving sculptures and learnt the history behind them - Wolfe Tone and the Famine Monument. We were then told the story of Michael Collins and Ireland becoming a republic, which was a wonderful way to finish the tour.

Afterwards we went to O'Neill's with the tour guides, where we could get a meal bigger than my own head for ten euro and a free soft drink. I couldn't finish my fish and chips but we bought tickets for the pub crawl that night. We stopped home quickly with some groceries and put warmer clothes on then headed back out to the Workers Bar for our free pint to kick off the night. Then we headed to the Garage for half-price cocktails and pints, then to the Mezz for a bottle of beer and a shot of tequila for 5 euro. Then we headed to O'Neill's (again) for a free shot of Jager with any drink. This was easily my favourite bar as the guys playing the live music where playing traditional Irish songs. One played guitar, one played accordion and they both sang their lungs out and everyone was jumping and clapping and singing and it was totally amazing. Among such awesome anthems were 'Galway Girl', 'The Rattlin' Bog' and 'If I Ever Leave This World Alive'. Then we went to the Porterhouse Brewing Company for more free shots with any drink and the music there wasn't bad, and then back to the Workers Bar, which turns into a nightclub. None of us are really clubbers, so Kim and I walked home (via Burger King for some greasy food) and Sean wasn't too far behind. I didn't drink too much tonight (I certainly didn't take advantage of every free offer because that would be way too much for me) but I had a really great time at the different pubs. I would have loved to finish the night at O'Neill's - that had the best music and the best atmosphere, hands down.

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