Our program’s visit to Dublin each year is definitely a highlight. It’s fantastic to have a program that’s not based in a major city; being in Waterford is much less costly and affords us more flexibility to travel around the country. But Dublin is the capital, it’s an amazing city, and it is not to be missed. Interestingly, the students don’t always love it. Many of them are attracted to this program because of its more rural setting. The sudden plunge into an urban environment at the height of tourist season is challenging. They learn plenty about Irish history and culture in Dublin but they learn at least as much about forward planning, problem-solving, and using public transit. And Gaelic sports! Our first stop is Croke Park, the national home of Gaelic sports–hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, and women’s Gaelic football. It has an important place in the history of Irish independence as the site of the 1920 “Bloody Sunday” attack. The stadium in its current form (there has been a GAA venue on the site since 1913) seats about 82,000 people.
From Croke Park we stop at our lodgings on Dublin City University’s Glasnevin campus (check out DCU Rooms if you need inexpensive, no-frills accommodation in Dublin in the summer) to drop off luggage, then head into the center of the city for a short walking tour down O’Connell Street to Trinity College. The Liffey River divides Dublin into north and south sides and makes it pretty easy to navigate. Starting from Charles Stuart Parnell’s statue on upper O’Connell, you head down toward the river via the General Post Office (important 1916 Rising site) and the Millennium Spire to Daniel O’Connell’s statue. Cross the river and bear right and you’re at the front gate of Trinity College. It’s taken me a few visits to get the hang of all this but I’m finally getting the rest of my Dublin points of interest oriented around those basic landmarks.
From here we dismissed the students to get dinner on their own and we faculty decamped to an undisclosed location for our dinner (Pro[gram director] tip: keep a good restaurant/bar/pub in your back pocket and do not share it with students. Everyone needs their own space). On Wednesday the faculty had field trips with their classes but I did not have to attend anyone’s field trip, so I was at large in Dublin:
Thursday I went with one of the professors and his class on his field trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (my favorite place in Dublin) and then to Glasnevin Cemetery, Ireland’s national cemetery. There are three times more people buried in Glasnevin than there are living in Dublin today! I somehow barely took any pictures at St. Patrick’s
Saw lots of unusual and beautiful monuments at Glasnevin:
Friday was the beginning of our free weekend and of my weekend off. I kept it mellow in Dublin and finally made it to visit the Chester Beatty Library, a fantastic museum of manuscripts (and some early print materials) from around the world. Couldn’t take pictures inside the exhibits but the building and grounds are really cool too.
My favorite part of the weekend was Saturday (yesterday) when I went to Dublin Pride. I hadn’t been to a Pride parade since about 2004 and I regretted not going to last year’s Dublin Pride, so I decided to make up for it this year. It was so much fun. Just a friendly and happy atmosphere with smiles on everyone’s faces and, of course, rainbows everywhere:
Everyone was in the parade. Not just LGBT+ organizations but political parties, unions, government bureaux, corporations (lots of tech companies have headquarters in Dublin): everyone!
I went to the after party in Merrion Square for a few minutes but before I knew it it was time to go back to DCU and collect my backpack, then head to the train station and back to Waterford. The week and weekend were packed and seemed to go by so fast; I know my pictures and paragraphs do not do justice. I did not take pictures of:
- Breakfast at DCU
- Riding the #13 bus a million times
- Hodges Figgis
- Walking 10 miles a day, mostly on O’Connell St.
- Two different picnic lunches in parks
- Coffee Angel, Costa, Caffe Nero, another Costa . . .
- An amazing dinner at Marco Pierre White
- A pint of Guinness, a pint of Bulmer’s, maybe another pint of Bulmer’s in there somewhere
- Everything I didn’t buy in Grafton Street
Dublin is pretty cool, folks. I recommend it.