Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Walking Tour of Dublin

One of the most highly-rated Dublin tours is a series given by graduate students of Trinity College.  There isn't a double-decker bus, no obnoxious PA-enhanced tour audio, and certainly no plastic Viking-Horn helmets with blond-yarn wigs for all on the tour.  Yes, those all do exist here, and in great number.

This series of tours is satisfyingly serious, entertaining, informative, and reasonably-priced.  Tours are all on foot, so the sights are centered around Trinity and the rest of City Centre.  No worries, though, there is plenty to see to keep a tour group engaged.  I wish I had brought along a note pad or pocket recorder to capture all the stories and facts given to us in such a short time.  Many of the sights seen on the tour are locations of political turmoil, and, as always sometimes rarely, I will try to keep political criticisms to myself.

The tour begins at Trinity College, the old English center of power in Dublin.  It was established by the Queen to be a place of learning for all some a few rich Protestant men.  During times of revolt and political turmoil, Trinity was used as a physical military base.  The thick stone walls made this university a fortress (not by accident) and British troops were able to safely fire cannons from inside the walls to the surrounding city.  I heard some Trinity students recently joke: I think it's still technically legal to shoot any Catholics who come inside the walls on sight!

Today, Trinity is, of course, a well-regarded modern worldwide university.  All are able to attend school here, and the exclusionary Protestant religious angle of the place is more in name than in practice.

Next, just across the street, is the current home of the Bank of Ireland.  This building used to house the (illegal) Irish Parliament, set up in defiance of the British.  Americans, remember "No taxation without representation?"  Apparently the British didn't learn their lesson with this huge, arrogant bumble with the American colonies and put in place similar measures to their Irish citizens.  When the Irish Parliament was first established here, it was against British rule and was seen as an act of defiance.  After defeat of this uprising, the British established the Bank of Ireland here, and it has since remained.  The Irish Parliament is located elsewhere in City Centre.

Further along, we visited Dublin Castle.  The use of the word "Castle" here is for a structure that I (and many Americans) probably would not recognize as a castle.  This large, square fortress is built upon the original landing place and township of the invading Vikings.  It has since been (off-and-on) the center of political power here.  In honor of the different ages of civilization in Dublin, the castle is built with several different styles of architecture, from rounded towers (looking like my idea of a castle) to Gothic arches to large square manor-home style.  When Ireland was under British rule, the Crown-appointed Governors lived and conducted business here.  Today it houses Government offices and museums.

The tour finishes in this area with visits to a number of important locations in the revolutions and civil war of the twentieth century.  Our guide described the various locations of battles, demonstration, and arrests from those scary and violent times.  It was presented in a sobering, tasteful, fair, and informative manner- pretty much the opposite of what I create on this site.

For that reason, I refrain from retelling these stories for now.  I feel that I have no place to comment on the recent painful history of the people here- except to blame the British.  Maybe if I lived in Britain, I wouldn't get so mad at them.  I would say things like, "I do care about Bill and Kate's Royal Spawn!  After all, that baby has rightful and magical God-given power to rule me, his/her (I don't even know) loyal subject!  Maybe he/she will take back all those ungrateful colonies who demanded independence, and after we showed them how to play cricket!  I hear they all watched the Doctor Who special that we made for them to get them back on our side!  Step one, success!  HA HA HAAAAA...HA HA HAAAAA (maniacal laugh continues and spreads through the room full of my red-coated, tea-sipping comrades)"

Who knows...?

Bank of Ireland

Trinity quad

Dublin Castle

Lady Justice (no blindfold here!)

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