Today Tomorrow and Yesterday

On recommendation from Yvonne and her sister who were almost twins with just ten years and six months between them, born in Dublin, working in London and were just home for the week, and whom I met at Café Nero at the Dublin airport while waiting for Sue, we decided to visit Howth. We caught the train from Tara Street across the bridge and arrived at the pretty seaside village just in time for coffee.

Today day was a stunner- the air crisp and clean and the sky a radiant blue. We strolled beside the fishing boats and puzzled at how these masses of rust could survive the Irish Sea let alone work so hard as fishing vessels. A lone fisherman took his pots out and located them just off the wall at the entrance to the little harbour. He told me he was after lobster.

We walked the long pier to the Howth Lighthouse and enjoyed the view of the Irish Eye and Dublin Bay. Later we ventured into the ruins of the twelfth century St Mary’s Abbey and explored the cemetery that surrounds it.

The number six bus arrived just as we discovered the bus stop. Brilliant! We travelled the scenic route back to the city through Howth and Sutton, surrounded by homes that were straight out of Grand Designs. It was quite a trip.

We found the Post Office and Sue got her postcards away with the hope that they would arrive before she did.

Passing through O’Connel Street we found the Dublin Monument of Light, otherwise known as the nail in the Pale, the stiletto in the ghetto, the pin in the bin, the stiffy by the Liffey, the spire in the mire, or just the spike. It represents a bright future and replaced Nelson’s Pillar which was randomly blown up in 1966. For many, the biggest surprise about the blowing up was why it took 157 years and almost 50 years after the 1916 uprising.

We also came across Grandfathers making their point. I asked to join them and of course I could but it was Tuesday and Grandmothers protest on Thursdays. I kid you not!

Next we ventured into the past through a book. We had an allocated time slot to see The Book of Kells at Trinity College. Established in 1592 specifically for Protestant elites it took two hundred years before the college allowed Catholics to attend but then The Roman Catholic Church forbade them to attend until the ban was lifted in 1970! How crazy is that? Still it was a great experience to go into the university and see this treasure.

From the room where the book of Kells is displayed we climbed the stairs and entered the Long Room in the Old Library. Here we saw the ancient harp, the symbol of Ireland, Shakespear originals and the 1916 Proclamation of Independence.

In the Long Room of the Old Library we came across Liam, whose love and dedication to the books and history of the place was palpable. There are over 200 000 books in the library mostly 1st and 2nd editions ranging in age from the 1450s, just after the invention of the printing press, to the late Victorian era. It is a remarkable collection.

He told us the story behind the busts and how there are just four women represented and their amazing stories, including Rosalind Franklin who was instumental in discovering the DNA double-helix.

The Old Library is being redeveloped. It is a major reconstruction project which has just begun. It will be closed and the book of Kells will be rehoused in September of this year.

It is expected the project will take at least three years. What a privilege to see it, learn about the history and gain a tiny insight into the talent and tenacity of the remarkable artists who created such a treasure.

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