July 7: Dublin

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a city of well over 1.2 million people -- approximately a quarter of the entire Irish population! Within its borders sits the Dublin Castle built on the spot of the first Viking fortress which at that point in time was at the juncture of the Poddle and Liffey rivers. The rivers created a black pool known as a dubh linn in Irish -- thus the name of the city! Today the Liffey River divides the city in half. For over 750 years the city was the seat of English rule. The golden age of English Dublin was the 18th century with many of the building created in Georgian style (Georgian is British for Neoclassical -- named for the period when four consecutive King Georges occupied the British throne from 1714 to 1830). Desiring freedom from England and inspired by the American and French Revolutions, the Irish sought independence only to have the Act of Union of 1801 put on them which dissolved the Irish parliament and sent the representatives to Westminster in London. During the 19th century the Great Potato Famine occurred.

According to Wikipedia:

"In Ireland, the Great Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852.

During the famine approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%.The cause of famine was a disease commonly known as potato blight. Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland, where one-third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food—was exacerbated by a host of political, ethnic, religious, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.

The famine was a watershed in the history of Ireland. Its effects permanently changed the island's demographic, political and cultural landscape. For both the native Irish and those in the resulting diaspora, the famine entered folk memory and became a rallying point for various movements, as the whole island was then part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The massive famine soured the already strained elations between many of the people and the heightening of then desire for human rights, which eventually led to Irish independence in the next century."

During the famine the starving peasants of the countryside tried desperately to enter the city for food and shelter. However, it was believed at that time that the plague that was running rampant was a being carried by the peasants (actually it was the sewer rats!) and thus the city guards would not allow the people in. They would instead push them away with long poles out of fear of touching them. Thus the saying "I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole!"

In 1916 the Easter Uprising occurred and was followed by a successful guerilla war of independence against the British and Ireland's own civil war. The end result is the country of Ireland and Northern Ireland, both independent of British rule.

Dublin is also the home to Trinity College. Situated in the heart of the city it was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a Protestant way of thinking of God. It is here that the Book of Kells is kept. The Book of Kells, in the Old Library was written in the late 8th century by Irish monks on the island of Iona, Scotland. This book of the four gospels was taken safely inland to the Irish monastery at Kells in 809 A.D.. This has been credited to be the finest piece of art from the Dark Ages. Also among the collections is the oldest surviving harp in Ireland.

Dublin is also the home to many famous literatary greats. Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, William Yeats to name but a few.

Trinity College

Another View of The Main Commons


Trinity College Commons

Old Library Main Chamber --Notice the Stacks Are Two Floors High!

Another View of Main Chamber -- Books Still Available for Research By Students of Trinity

One of the First Printed Books -- 1497

Oldest Harp in Ireland

Wellington Obelisk

Ireland's President's Home

Oscar Wilde

Home of Oscar Wilde as a Child