Saturday, August 21, 2010

1-2-3 = Trinity

Our day seemed to be truncated today. We had gone to Trinity University in the past, but wanted to do the full tour this time. As the young man hawking the tour proclaims, entrance fees for the Long Room and the Book of Kells will cost you 9 Euros, but for 10 Euros, you can get a university tour as well. Our tour guide was Steven, a handsome blond lad with thick curly blond hair and a graduate of the university. As he admits, post-graduation, he spent a year in Paris burning through his funds, and is now trying to recoup them by this seemingly no degree required position.

Beginning as a college, it was created in 1592 by Elizabeth I solely so that her subjects did not have to go to Italy, France or Spain to study while becoming infected with critical thinking that may have turned them again jolly ole England. Currently, it has 16,000 students with 90,700 alumni. Can you imagine the alumni reunion? If you are wondering about the name, it goes by a couple: Trinity College Dublin and the University of Dublin. Three faculties include Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and Health Sciences. Within the city center the campus consumes fifty-one acres, but take heart they have five other campuses. Their property is in excess of 220,000 m2 of buildings, including the beautiful historic architecture alongside some state-of-the-art modern facilities. Their social programs span 90 college societies as well as 50 active sports clubs. That is one hell of a lot of Cricket. Steven was charming, intelligent, and had great wit.

The library has about 4.5 million printed volumes, significant holdings of maps and printed music with an extensive collection of literary and historical manuscripts including the most famous The Book of Kells. These collections have been started and augmented from the end of the sixteenth century. In 1801 the college received the privilege of receiving all Irish and UK copyright material. Currently over 100,000 new items are added each year causing them to build ½ mile of bookcases to accommodate them each year). As well as printed material, the library has considerable breadth of electronic resources and presently provides access to 30,000 electronic journals and nearly 300,000 online books.

This library does not include the Long Room, where 200,000 manuscripts are stored in this fabulous barrel ceilinged room with bookshelves reaching into the clouds. My first instinct it to set up a cot and move in, but no better luck this time than last.

By 2 pm, we had to be at the Abbey Theater for the play The Plough and the Stars, an Irish classic by Sean O’Casey. I had reservations about the play, worried that the Irish accent would be difficult at times. The story revolves around lower class Irish in 1916, so the brogue could have been tenuous. There were times when it was touch and go where we wished there were super titles, but it was magnificent. We did not get out until after 5 pm, so there went that day.

With the museums closed, we did walk and walk and walk visiting Christ Church Cathedral from the outside. It was closed by the time we arrived, but they charge hefty entry fees to tour it and more to peek in the other buildings. By chance discovery we came across the end of the day activity of the Viking festival. We used to go to the Renaissance Fairs in California; here they recognize their Viking invades of eras past. They were showing the film The Vikings with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis. Our Hungarian connection number 1.We always have some Hungarian connection experience when we travel.

Using Ron’s Silver Surfer card, dinner was a 2 for 1 at The Clarence Hotel, which is owned by Bono & The Edge of Irish rock group U2 (from their website). Posh, but casual, elegant, but relaxed, even with a 2 for 1, it was expensive. The hotel's advertising campaign can be U2 can stay with us. No charge for the idea, but a free night the next time we are in town will not be refused. :  ) Our waiter turned out to be Hungarian and had lived in Ireland for the last 3 years. Connection number 2.

To continue to support the pubs economy, we ventured back to our hotel pub for drinks. I forgot to mention that our hotel, the North Star was clean, but not thrilling. Our room was so close to the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) station that when we put our hand out the single window in our room, we could clean the train as it passed. The bathroom floor was sloped downward and to the side. When I first went in, I did not notice it with the white tiles, so I went lunging forward and to the left at the same time, plowing into the toilet at the not so far end of the room. It is NOT owned by U2.
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