Two very different locations in one day, funnily enough.
On Friday, still tired from being out so late the night before, Mr. Shifflett and I gave ourselves an easy day. In the early afternoon, we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the most famous church in Dublin, named after St. Patrick, who came to Ireland and baptized so many people. It’s a beautiful building, and it’s huge – almost 100 meters long throughout – and has a number of historic stones with Celtic crosses on them, in addition to statues of famous deans and other historical figures, and memorials to Irish soldiers.
The cathedral’s best exhibit is about the life of Jonathan Swift, its dean during the late 16th/early 17th century, who is best known for his writing – he’s the author of “A Modest Proposal” and Gulliver’s Travels. What I learned about Jonathan Swift here was that he was also a statesman and actually sacrificed some opportunities for advancement in the church in order to speak out for Irish rights. For example, he stopped an English plan to flood Irish currency with useless copper coins… and he did it peacefully, through a written campaign. He also left much of his fortune to found a mental hospital with revolutionary humane standards upon his death. It’s hard not to like Swift.
Later in the day, we went to Temple Bar, which is a district unto itself (not just a single building) and is known as Dublin’s “cultural center,” with a vivid (and noisy) nightlife. This is where all the tourists come, and we saw them all, including about a dozen hen parties and stag nights (bachelorette and bachelor parties, respectively). Although all the locations out here advertise “live Irish music,” that music frequently turned out to be American party hits that the tourists could sing along to. While Mr. Shifflett and I liked it okay, it wasn’t really our favorite part of Dublin – we felt like this catered more to clubbers and tourists, and that’s not really what we wanted to see. Still, I’m glad we saw it; we probably couldn’t say we’d been to Dublin properly if we hadn’t walked through the Temple Bar crowds at least once.
We made it an early night, because we knew we’d be very busy the following day for Bloomsday… and busy we were.