|« Ireland Day 3, March 18, 2008||Ireland Day 1, March 15/16 2008 »|
When we decided to visit Ireland, it didn't occur to us that our visit was going to coincide with St. Patrick's Day. This turned out to be a fortunate coincidence and catalyst to our newest travel brainchild: visit countries/cities that tend to be associated with a given holiday. St. Patrick's Day-Dublin, check.
We woke up fairly early (for being jet-lagged), and headed down to the breakfast room for our first taste of the "Full Irish Breakfast." This was staple fare at all the bed and breakfast we stayed at during the trip, with slight variations at each home. Marie served up a delicious feast (truly, a feast), starting with cereal and hot tea. She soon brought out a basket of toast and bread with Irish butter and 2 plates full of poached eggs, ham, sausage, potatoes, bacon, and black and white pudding. A pause here for a brief lesson on the puddings. In America, pudding is generally a dessert treat. Pudding in this sense would not be considered as such. Black pudding is otherwise known as "blood pudding." It is made from the blood of the animal and mixed with oatmeal, spices, and such to form it into a patty much resembling a sausage patty. The taste is pretty much like a meatball. Not so bad...
After our puddings, we packed up and paid Marie. We left our bags in our car at the B & B and walked to the bus stop to catch a ride into Dublin City Centre. We road in a double decker bus (on the top deck, of course) for the 25 minute ride to the city centre--smack dab in front of the route for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade didn't start for another hour or so, and our destination of Trinity College didn't open until 1:00, so we ended up walking along the parade route. Along the way, we purchased our first souvenirs--Ireland scarves. So, now we weren't only warm, we were festive! We walked all the way to the start of the parade where the crowd was still thin. We found a great spot right along the barricades and settled in for a 35 minute wait before the parade began. We were close enough to hear the bands warming up, however, so we had some pre-parade entertainment. This included Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer"--the first of many non-Irish things to come. The parade began with the Irish military bands. Behind them entered...an American high school marching band, followed by more high school marching bands from such exotic locals as Alabama, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, California, and Wisconsin. They played such Irish classics as "My Country Tis of Thee," "We are Family," "Celebrate," and the John Phillips Sousa marching band classic. The floats and costumes were very bright and colorful. There were also giant balloons, circus acts, fire throweres, stilt walkers, elaborate themes, and the St. Patrick's Day vampire.
We had intended to leave after a short amount of parade and head over to Trinity College, but the crowd became so thick we were boxed in--thus watching the entire parade. When it was nearly over, we made our way through the crowd and walked toward Trinity College with a slight detour to the Library....where we thought the Book of Kells was housed (it's not...it's at the Treasury). When we arrived at the Treasury, we realized that the entry fee had been waved for the day since it was a public holiday, so we just walked on in. There was an exhibit with panels telling about the history of the Book of Kells and such. In a seperate room, the Book of Kells was housed beneath a glass table. There were 2 pages on display, along with some pages from the Book of Armaugh. The Book of Kells dates from 800 AD. Upstairs, we entered a room called the Long Room, housing the oldest book collection held by Trinity College. Originally only one story, the roof was raised in order to fit more books.
We picked up some postcards and stamps at the gift shop and walked down past St. Stephen's Green to Lower Baggot Street and the Mercy International Center, where Catherine MacCauley founded the Sister's of Mercy convent (Kelly attended Mercy High School in Omaha). From there, we headed for the bus back to the B&B to pick up our car and head to Galway, on Ireland's west coast.
What would it have been without construction, missed exits, crazy drivers, and mislabeled roads? Not a trip in Ireland, that's for sure! We eventually made it into Galway and found our B&B, Petra House. Frank met us at the door, showed us to our room, and suggested a local pub, An Pucan, for dinner. We walked down to the pub and had a meal of fish and chicken, followed by our first Guiness beer, served in an Irish pub, in Ireland, on St. Patrick's Day, while listening to Irish music (well, mostly Irish tunes--throw in some country songs, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Johnny Cash, just for fun).
We were exhausted at this point, so it was back to the B&B for a much needed sleep.
Day 3--Cliffs of Moher.
Click on the picture below for photos from Day 2: