2003 letter about a day trip from Holyhead, Wales to Dublin Ireland, by fast ferry: After our day on the railroad, we moved on to a campsite on the island of Anglesey. It was in a town called Bodedern near Holyhead. That put us in a good position for the next morning. We had to be at the ferry dock in time to walk onto an Irish ferry that sailed at 9:20 a.m. We opted to take the "swift" Ė a ship called the Jonathan Swift Ė that gets across the Irish Sea in only 1 hour and 49 minutes, going through the water at 50 miles an hour. Since we were only taking a day trip, we wanted to minimize the time we spent on the ferry.
Fortunately, there was another camper at our campsite who had taken the trip recently. She told us that we had to park in a particular place, and to be there about an hour early because you have to get a bus to the terminal, and a bus from the terminal to the dock. She also suggested buying tickets for a sightseeing bus before we left Wales. The price was better. We followed her advice and did all that.
The ship itself is a nice, reasonably new ship, although the upholstery on many of the chairs was torn and shabby. It had been named for the author of "Gullivarís Travels", but not because of his writings. He had been the Dean of one of Dublinís largest Church of Ireland Cathedrals and very influential in the cityís development.
We found Dublin a little dreary. Our impressions certainly are superficial because we were there only for six hours. Our impressions were formed mostly by the things we saw on the tour bus. But this tour is meant to show tourists the most interesting tourist things. And with one exception these things were not of compelling interest to us. Our first thought had been that if we really liked it, we could make another, longer trip. Once there, however, the thought died.
The prettiest things we saw were the doors of the houses and the pubs, which was already known to us as a result of the ubiquitous posters spread throughout the world showing the doors and the pubs, respectively, of Dublin. There are some nice old buildings, but not very many were seen on our tour of the most appealing tourist sights. The bus driver said that the most popular stop was the Guinness Brewery, where the tour includes a free pint of Guinness. We didnít stop, so we canít tell you anything else about it.
The most interesting place for us was Trinity College (picture of front building, in back of which is campus), the only place we got off the bus to visit. The Old Library contains the Book of Kells. Many consider this to be the most beautifully illustrated of ancient scriptures. The book dates from the 800ís and contains the Four Gospels. The Trinity Library displays four pages of the original at a time. They change the pages shown frequently because even in a glass case that is climate controlled, there can be damage to the book. The beauty of this work is not exaggerated. Seeing those and learning a little about the history of the book justified the whole trip for us. One of the most interesting and beautiful displays there was of each letter of the alphabet as illustrated in the Book. There is a poster of that display but the Library store was out of them!
Perhaps as beautiful in a different way was the "Long Room" in the libraryówhich also was very high, with an arched ceiling stretching the whole long length of the room, and covered with bookshelves and old books from ceiling to floor. Photos were not allowed but we bought a book that showed it and will scan it into digital form when we return. The room also contained display cases showing books with pages open and documents written by leaders of the many struggles and revolts for Independence.
We were surprised to learn that the Church of Ireland is Protestant, not Catholic, and that Trinity College is Protestant and was started to civilize the natives. In the early days it accepted Catholics only if they promised to convert. This is in Catholic Ireland!
One disappointment for Ron was the much touted (by the tourist brochures) Georgian houses along Merriam Square. These were very plain brick buildings, three stories high. Their doors were pretty, and that is about all that was pretty about them. They had simple windows, double pane set in the window wells with almost no adornment whatsoever. Just a white frame, perhaps a half-inch thick lining the bricks in which the window was set. And there were inverted arches of brick set vertically, flush with the other bricks, flat on the bottom and arching on top and set over the top of the windows. These formed the only adornment on the building front. Unfortunately, I donít have a picture to show you. The overall effect for Ron was of plainness, sparseness, but designed to save money, not because sparse was better. If anyone has an insight that explains why this impression is wrongheaded or at least uninformed, Ron would like to hear it.
Back to Dublin
Intrepid Traveler