Ah the magic of a good night’s sleep.
Day two started bright and early. And I mean that literally. The sun was shining, and I felt amazing after a good night’s sleep. Maybe going to bed at 10 pm is lame. It also makes me happy the next morning.
If I was going to get the most of my last full day in Dublin, I needed to get my bearings. The hostel offered a free walking tour, and I have found these to be an excellent way to get a better idea of a city even though they are super touristy. Our tour guide was amazing. As we wove our way through Dublin’s hodge-podge of streets and buildings, he told us all about the city’s history, politics, and best pubs. All the important things.
We walked around the grounds of the Dublin Castle and up the Forty Steps, famous for their appearance in Ulysses and P.S. I Love You. The tour took us by Trinity College which was swamped by freshers (first year university students). Outside the Parliament building we learned about current events in Ireland including the recent election of their Prime Minister and the Centennial of many of the events from the early 20th century. It was definitely three hours well spent.
In Ireland, it is all about the story.
Of the whole tour, my favorite story was that of Darkey Kelly.
Christchurch Cathedral is one of the sites you always hear about in Dublin city guides. Despite its current appearance, the building actually stood decrepit for several hundred years. After Henry VIII established the Anglican religion, all Catholic churches were converted. In Catholic-dominated Ireland, many of these buildings fell into disrepair.
And what do you do when you have an abandoned church? You open a bar in the basement, of course. According to our tour guide, this actually happened. In fact, the pub was open for 80 years. Now this bar was more often frequented by men. Darkey Kelly saw a gap in the market and opened a brothel right nearby. A brothel for the bar in an old cathedral. Just let that sink in.
You may think that is the end of the story, but no. Turns out she was also a serial killer. She was executed for her crimes in the 1760s. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
When in doubt, go to the library.
After my walking tour, I decided to grab a bite to eat. I headed to O’Neill’s, a pub recommended by the tour guide. Unassuming on the outside, the pub is actually several rooms all connected to each other. It’s almost like the Tardis effect. I grabbed some food and camped in the corner. Despite the constant flow of tourists, the place was cozy. And Irish dancing every night sounds like a good time.
Well-fed and ready for round two, I headed to the site our guide considered his favorite in the whole city, the Chester Beatty Library. I expected a few old books with cool pictures, but, guys, this place was amazing. It did indeed have pretty books, but there were also examples of ancient texts, prints, clothing, and other art works.
The first gallery detailed the more technical aspects of book making such as binding, printing, and style. It was informative and engaging, but the room that stole my heart was on the third floor. This focused on the large collection of religious texts in the collection. It actually went through and explained the fundamental concepts and history of three religions: Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. It has been a while since I’ve actually learned that much information in a museum.
To top it all off, there was a rooftop terrace. Though chilly and a bit grey, it was a nice quiet space in the middle of a busy city. The view of the castle was pretty great as well. I imagine it is beautiful in the summer. And you don’t have to pay a dime to see it.
After a few hours in the library, my brain was completely full. I headed back to the hostel to grab some dinner and book some bus tickets. That’s right, I’m off! Next stop: Cork.