Just back from a great weekend in Dublin with Joan.. first time we’ve been there together since our honeymoon in 19xx. Great weekend – music and dancing at the Temple Bar Tradfest, two interesting walking tours (literary and historical), a number of pubs (!), the fantastic Trinity College library long room and the National Museum. It was particularly interesting to re-engage with the story of Ireland – I don’t remember being so impressed first time round with the architectural heritage of Empire which is all around Dublin, as it is Edinburgh (and of course London!). The complex story of Ireland’s relationship with Britain and its fight for its independence is particularly relevant at a time when this has become the major political issue in Scotland. Its very different political and religious make-up has kept Scotland on a much more unionist path for much longer, yet there are similar issues at play.
Highlights of the visit – meeting up with Bernard in his natural environment at TCD, his personal tour of the stunning Library and Book of Kells and the fantastic Bronze, Iron and Middle Age collections of the National Museum, including the Faddan More Psalter. I had not appreciated how rich early mediaeval Ireland was, nor how many English people (craftsmen, merchants, farmers – not just nobles and soldiers) settled in the South East after the initial Norman conquest of the 12th Century, nor how skilled the metalwork, particularly the early Bronze Age gold lunulae. Fascinating and beautiful in equal measure.
I was particularly taken by this carved stone head from County Cavan (1st Century AD):
I also really surprised myself by enjoying a couple of hours of performances from young people at the Irish Dancing open air stage in Temple Bar:
What a contrast to when we were first there over 30 years ago when the word ‘tourism’ was apparently not yet in use in Ireland and we struggled, on arrival in the Central Hotel late on a Saturday evening, to find anywhere open for food or drink and ended up with a room service white bread sandwich!