Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dublin: A City Thriving with History, Language, Culture and Irish Fun

Dublin was, by far, my favourite part of Janice and my trip within the UK. Ireland has beautiful scenery and Dublin has a charming atmosphere with quaint pubs, cobblestone roads and a unique history. The free walking tour we took that left from our hostel was a beautiful introduction to the history, culture and language of the Irish people. Sadly, our guide, Ashley, kept commenting on the dying Irish language, reminded me of Sheila Murtagh's (2004) dissertation on language attrition, and her study that followed on why, how and when Irish young adults use Irish, their attitudes towards it, and the rate at which they lose their language (and/or gain it back if they try to later).  Ah, I love studying languages and linguistics!

Here are a few highlights of our historical tour, and also our time spent roaming the city. Although the first night was POURING rain, we did get quite lucky with the rest of our stay and saw some sunshine. 

  • Book of Kells - This exhibit is definitely worth a visit. While we couldn't take pictures of the book itself (an ancient Biblical text), there was so much information about books, Janice (who just completed an Masters in Library Science) and I were in heaven! There was even a video on how they used to make books, way back when they sewed all the pages on animal skin paper and then wrote/painted in them. If they made a mistake, they had to "decorate" around the correction to make it look pretty!
  • Kiara's name - My Black Lab, Kiara, was given her name because it is Irish Gaelic for "little dark haired one" (She was SUPER tiny when I bought her!) I tried as hard as I could to find her name on something in the souvenir shops, but no luck there!
  • Irish Coffee -- Okay, so I've tried Irish coffee in Canada (and in England after coming back), and I have to say, only the Irish can do it well! It's the right kind of whisky, with strong coffee, brown sugar, and topped with a specially poured layer of fresh cream. Sounds a bit strange - but  - yum!
  • O'Reilly's -  This small restaurant is worth a try - delicious food and potatoes more moist than I've ever had them (Janice says the Irish stew is amazing, too). It's in the beautiful Temple Bar area of town. 





  • Street performers - They are really great in Dublin!  Check out the photo of the guy who is "carving" a sand dog. We thought the dog was real (and the man was homeless) from a distance - from across the straight, it looks like a homeless man with his jar of change and a Weinereimer! 

  • Historical Walking Tour - a few top facts from  the 3 hour tour and our trip to Dublin castle (it's a lot of reading, but there are a few surprising facts!) 


    • In 1916, there was an uprising for independence from British rule
    • The British could not break into  Dublin castle...so they took city hall! Suffragettes - feminists of the time - pretended to be captured/damsels in distress to save their city (British soldiers came to their "rescue", only to find that it had been a trap! Well, that trick only worked once, and the next day, they were shot down by the British
    • Poric Pearce, the leader of the rebellion, was dying from a puncture to the lung, but was publicly executed in an "honourable" way (like any killing could be honorable?!) and unfortunately, tied to a chair and shot in the head.
    • 14 years later, in 1937, 26 of 32 counties were empancipated  and became the Republic of Ireland; the remaining 8 are Northern Ireland, part of the UK.
    • The city/government logo at Dublin castle is the same harp that Guiness uses in ts logo, only flipped. (Guiness used the logo first, and then the government asked them if they could use it!
    • In 896 AD, the Vikings came to Ireland, followed by the Normans. Vikings constructed buildings with wood, and Normans with stone, giving the building its unique look
    Lady Justice
    • In 1656 there was a massive fire; the castle had been built with gunpowder in its wall (for safekeeping), causing the entire castle to light up in flames
    • In 1700, the castle was re-done in a more British style, due to its occupation by British forces. Artwork painted on the ceiling and on chandeliers reflects political messages that Ireland (symbolized by a clover) England (a rose)  and Scotland (a thistle )should be one union. This painting is by Renaissance painter Vincenzo Valdre
    • Interestingly, the Lady Justice statue the British built in the castle is not blindfolded, as she traditionally is, and is pointing at the British in the castle, not towards the town, symbolizing the British power over Ireland and their concept of justice at the time.
    • The term "saving face" comes from the times in which high class women wore 
    • "Face screen-  Saving face!"
      wax-based makeup that could easily melt, but the castles were, of course, heated with fire. To "save their face" from being "melted" by the fires, and to thus avoid embarrassment, they would have to stand near "screens" like these
    • Veronica Guerin, an Irish activist against drugs, is a more recent figure that gained attention in the country, due to her efforts to rid drugs from poor n eighbourhoods in  Ireland. Sadly, she was fatally shot in 1994 by a gang.
    • Ireland is traditionally very religious and Catholic, but current trends are slightly moving away form this. Contraception has only been legal since 1986. 
    • Up until 1990, the Magdalen Laundry, an institution to which families sent their unmarried pregnant, raped or "determined unfit" daughters to avoid public shame. They would be trapped in the "laundry", working long hours for free cleaning clothes, and unable to leave until society determined it was okay for them to do so. 1990? How was that legal?!
    • A more recent hot-topic is abortion, which was illegal for any reason in Ireland until very recently. In 2012, a woman asked to terminate her pregnancy because she was miscarrying and  her life was at risk (BBC article here), and was denied the right to do so, which lead to her death.
    • Ireland's first legal abortion took place about one month ago.
Check out the short (2 minute) Animoto video below for my best shots and short captions of Dublin, including St. Stephen's Green - a beautiful park, historical buildings, and snapshots of the stories above. Enjoy!

No comments: