Ireland

We had a great, busy few days of travel this weekend. We were in Ireland from Friday until Sunday, and then we took a day trip to London on Monday. First Ireland.

On Sunday, we traveled to a small fishing town near Dublin called Howth. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. The cliffs and hills were spectacular, and the colors were really vivid.
Morgan looks out into the Irish sea while standing on a cliff in Howth.

Baily Lighthouse sits on the southeastern part of Howth. It was quite a long hike from the train station we arrived at to the lighthouse, but the whole walk was very nice. It was a little rainy that day, but the slight drearyness somehow contributed to the atmosphere. I would love to go back here or see other parts of Ireland like this. So, so nice.

As great as the countryside was, we spend most of our time in Ireland in Dublin. Dublin is a smallish, but very fun city. There were plenty of old building, nice bars and restaurants, and fun things to do.

On Saturday, we visited Bedford Hall which is part of Dublin Castle. The buildings were just a couple minutes away from our hostel, and currently serve as an Irish government complex. Until Ireland broke away from Britain in 1922, the castle served as the seat of British power in the country.
The buildings were nice enough, but we soon pulled out a map to figure out what we would see next.
Also near our hostel was Trinity College. The campus was pretty, and we took a tour of an old library and saw the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript bible made over the course of the 7th to 9th centuries.

A stencil painted on a Dublin wall calls for the rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Treaty of Lisbon is an EU proposal that would grant more power to the European Union, giving the democratically elected Parliament more control of legislation and introducing a President of the European Union. Each EU nation must ratify the treaty for it to take effect, and the national assemblies of most EU countries pushed the treaty though. However, Irish law required that the treaty be put to a referendum, and in 2008, Irish voters rejected the treaty, halting the ratification process. Critics of the treaty have suggested that the treaty will decrease democracy by moving power to the EU and away from national politics. A poll found that Irish voters rejected the treaty largely based on lack of knowledge about the treaty or a desire to preserve Irish identity.
Though voters rejected the treaty, there are plans to present the referendum to Irish voters once again. At last week's meeting of EU leaders, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen secured the assurances that the treaty of Lisbon would not affect Irish military neutrality, taxes or abortion. The assurances were made in an attempt to mollify voters' concerns about the treaty. A new referendum is expected in the next several months.

During the beautiful day on Saturday, we spent a little time in St. Stephen's Green, a park in central Dublin. While there, I approached some jugglers because fellow jugglers always seem to be friendly people. The jugglers invited us to a street performance competition at another park nearby, and we watched a couple shows there. There was a funny breakdancing troupe and then a woman who fit into a 16 inch box. There were tons of people watching, so I couldn't get close enough to get good pictures with the lens I had. Too bad.

On Saturday, we also went to the Guinness Storehouse, a museum that is part of the Guinness brewery. The museum was very well designed, but unfortunitely we did not actually get to see the beer being brewed. There were some interactive sections though, and at one point we were shown how the brewers taste-test the beer, and we were given samples to try.
When we reached the top of the museum, they gave everyone an additional free pint of freshly brewed Guinness, as you can see here. Mmmm.


The panoramic view of Dublin at the top of the museum was a wonderful backdrop to a wonderful beer.

The museum also included a history of Guinness advertising and a collection of memorabilia, including bottles. I learned that the Guinness Book of Records was started by the Guinness company as a way to resolve arguments in pubs. I had never put that together before.

Ireland wasn't all sightseeing. We hit some pubs in Dublin, giving Becky and Amy a chance to dance to oldies. The pubs we visited on Friday were ok, but on Saturday night we went to a great place called Messrs Maguire, a microbrewery with dancing and a fun, young crowd. There are no pictures from there. I was dancing, too.

On Monday we took a day trip to London. I'll post pictures in a day or two. Stay tuned.