Dublin - not only pubs...

There is of course so much to be said about Dublin. It’s not – only - a city of pubs. Maybe we could start with some views of the bridges over the River Liffey which runs through the city centre. They are from all periods, including the most recent one, the Samuel Beckett Bridge. Yes, there is also a James Joyce Bridge… There are a number of other Irish poets and writers who could give their names to the bridges: Brendan Behan, Thomas Moore, G.B. Shaw, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats… including four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Talking about poets, maybe this is also the moment to mention some Irish musicians ranging from the traditional to the most recent – The Dubliners, The Chieftains, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, The Corrs, Gilbert O’Sullivan, The Pogues, U2 … )
A special attention to the “Ha’penny Bridge” from 1816, which will bring you to the Temple Bar district. It was actually a toll bridge until 1919 and in the meantime the charge had increased from a Ha-penny to 1 ½ pence.  

The Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has its origins from the 12th century, but most of the present construction dates from the 17th , 18th and 19th centuries. We must remember the switches between Catholic, Protestant, Anglican… beliefs and communions – for a while this was even the church for immigrated French Huguenots. Today the Church of Ireland is autonomously Anglican. It should be known that there are two Cathedrals in Dublin and the other, older, one – the Christ Church Cathedral (partly to be seen on a photo below, but the tower is at present hidden by scaffoldings) is actually the seat of the Anglican Archbishop – and officially (not in practice) also of the Roman Catholic Archbishop, representing the strongly dominating religion in Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s is headed by a Dean. The most famous of the Deans is probably the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, who had this role 1713-45. He’s buried here together with his friend Stella.   

In the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral you can find an 18th century copy of Handel’s Messiah Hallelujah Chorus. It should be noted that Handel was invited to Dublin 1742-43 and that’s where the Messiah was performed for the very first time (April 13, 1743) at the Great Music Hall in Fishamble Street – here – using the choirs from Saint Patrick’s. Originally it was thought for smaller settings, but… here we can listen to a large scale version. 

Here are thus some pictures on (part of) the Christ Church Cathedral … and also of the 13th century city wall…

The Trinity College is the oldest Irish University, founded by Elizabeth I.

The 18th century Dublin City Hall and the government complex Dublin Castle are neighbours.

O’Connel Street is the city’s main thoroughfare with a lot of monuments, including the one of Daniel O’Connel, a 19th century nationalist leader… and of course, again James Joyce. It’s also here and in the crossing streets that you can find department stores, hotels and all kinds of shops.

I was impressed by the Post Office and its preserved old interior.

Ireland and Dublin is dominated by the Guinness Breweries, founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759, now owned by Diageo (Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Baileys, Moët Hennesey…). A visit to Guinness Storehouse is somehow compulsory.  There are seven stores explaining the manufacturing… and when you reach the top, at the Gravity Bar, you can enjoy a draft, overlooking a 360° panorama of Dublin.

In the more western parts of Dublin you can find the 19th century Euston Station

… the Museum of Modern Art, housed in the 17th century previous hospital, Royal Hospital Kilmainham…. which once was occupied by a Knights Hospitaller abbey with lands, now transformed to….

…. a large park area, The Phoenix Park. (Actually Phoenix is just a bad interpretation of the Irish “fionn uisce”, meaning clean water.) The facade of the white building we can see is the residence of the Irish president. There is also Europe’s largest obelisk, the Wellington Monument (yes, Wellington was also born in Ireland), the Magazine Fort…

… large fields for cricket, rugby…

… and a flourishing real park area (where you also can find the zoo)…

… and surprisingly photo-friendly squirrels.
The city is full of old canals, docks, locks…

… and around them you can now find newly constructed offices, apartment buildings, restaurants, theatres…

… and the waters are used for all kinds of activities …

… including diving, jumping, swimming kids.

There are also many examples elsewhere of recent architecture…

… and also of older architecture. (The weather is changing all the time, a little rain shower is “normal”.)  

On the Customs House river quay you can also find one of the monuments which reminds us of the Great Famine in the 1840’s. (See also preceding post.)

Dublin is often visited by large sailing ships. During my visit I could see the Mexican school ship, B.E. Cuauhtemoc.

As in every city there is a bit of street art.

I was impressed by the ever present street lamp design.

Well, I guess I have to stop now… Next post will be about the Connemara.


Ireland... Dublin... pubs...

Since my young years I was attracted by Ireland (basically thanks to its music), but I never went, until now… and for a much too short visit. A few days experience told me that I must go back.
As we know, the island is split into the Republic of Ireland with Dublin as a capital and Northern Island, part of the United Kingdom, with Belfast as a capital. My trip included only Dublin with an extension to the western region of Connemara.

I’m not intending to give the whole history of the island here, but just a few words: People have lived on the island for some 10.000 years. A Celtic culture and language developed during the Stone Age. Christianity arrived during the 5th century (Saint Patrick…). Viking and Anglo-Norman invasions followed. There were many Kings, but also a High King… and a lot fighting. The title of King of Ireland was created by the Tudor dynasty. Wars and religious struggles continued. Ireland became part of the United Kingdom in 1801. The Easter Rising in 1916 was followed by elections in 1918, when the pro-independents (Sinn Fein) won largely and proclaimed an Irish Republic in 1919, confirmed in 1922 based on an Anglo-Irish Treaty, allowing Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Both the Republic and Northern Ireland are members of the European Union since 1973 and in the Republic you pay by Euros.

There have been a number of hunger crises on the island. The most serious one was probably during the 1840’s, accentuated by misruling British landlords. The population of 8 million people was over the following century reduced by over half. Today some 4.6 million people live in the Republic … but there are some 14 million Irish descendants in North America.
The mailboxes are green (as a large part of the country). The Gaelic language, Irish, is still spoken by a fairly large part of the population and street and other signs are usually in double language. The metric system is adopted.

Ireland, as most European countries, suffered severely from the economic crisis as from 2008, but is recovering, the economy being transformed from agriculture to modern technologies. Forbes classifies it as “the best country for business”, attracting a number of multinational companies, like Microsoft, Google… thanks to qualified work forces, but also to low corporate tax rates - international benefits are transferred to Irish accounts.

Well, now back to my trip. I arrived in Dublin quite early in the morning and spent a large part of the day looking for pubs and Irish music. Pubs are all over, but a certain concentration is in the Temple Bar district. (Actually “Temple” has its origin in a 17th century family name and “Bar” originally referred to a barrier which protected the area from the central River Liffey.)

One of the Temple Bar bars has the name of “Temple Bar” and that’s where I went at the opening hour for a first “compulsory” stout. The place was still relatively empty (see also top picture).

After a walk I came back for a lunch (oysters and Irish cheese), served by smiling waitresses and enjoying local music, under “supervision’ by one of Ireland’s many great writers and poets, James Joyce (1882-1941, “Ulysses”, “Dubliners”, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, “Finnegan’s Wake”). 

(I already “met” him during my blogging e.g. here and here and even visited his grave in Zürich.)

Later, especially in the evening, this pub is, as most other ones, more than full, noisy….  Music all over. (I wonder how the waiters and waitresses after hours of work manage to keep smiling.)  



I'm away for a couple of days. (This means that I will miss "La Fête de la Musique", Father's Day...) Will soon be back blogging (about Ireland). 



No, I haven’t been down to the Périgord area in the south-west of France to visit the Lascaux Caves, only to the south-west Paris border, the exhibition area at Porte de Versailles. There you can until the end of August visit a temporary Lascaux Caves exhibition.

I went a Monday afternoon…

… and the crowds were not to be compared with what you can find e.g. during the International Agricultural Show (see previous post).

The Lascaux Caves were discovered in 1940 with an amazing number of wall paintings. According to the latest dating methods, they are approximately 20.000 years old. The Caves opened to public in 1948, but were closed in 1963 because of risk of – and already noted -  deterioration. The Caves can now only be visited very shortly by a limited number of scientists. A close-by replica was opened in 1983. If you wish, you can read more about it all here

At the exhibition, the most spectacular part is of course a few copies of the wall paintings. In the Caves most of them represented animals which dominated the region those days – equines, stags, cattle, bison… but also rhinoceros, bears, birds, felines… Different light settings allow you to see them all differently. 

Some Cro-Magnon “humans” have been added… and it’s mentioned that they were like us – same body, same brain and the same intellectual capacities. “If they were dressed in modern clothes, you would not notice them on the street.”

The exhibition is well organised, you can watch videos, read about the Caves and their history… and see some examples of what has been found on the spot, all kinds of tools (including a needle) and also some “jewellery”.