Today was one of the best days of my life, probably. We officially started the day at the Dublin Writers Museum, but on the way, we stopped at the General Post Office and the Garden of Remembrance. There was a big uprising in Dublin in 1916, in an effort to earn Irish independence. The General Post Office was the headquarters of the rebels, and where one of the big “instances” took place, so there are still preserved bullet holes in the building and its pillars, so that was really special to be able to see. Then, we went to the Garden of Remembrance, which is originally where the rebels were held after their defeat and arrest, and before their executions. Now, there is a big reflecting pool in the shape of a cross and a statue of the characters from one of Dublin’s folk tales.
Then, we went to the Dublin Writers Museum, where there was three really awesome things I was obsessing over, that I will now nerdily list off. First was the book where the earliest version of the “Molly Malone” song is printed, which was found in 2010. It was like Dad’s equivalent of seeing the first edition of Spider-Man. (And I know you used to own it before grandpa threw it away, but still. Just go with me on this one.) After that, there was a draft of a poem that had words crossed out and changed and it was unfinished. I didn’t recognize the name of the writer, and can’t remember who it was, but even so, it was several hundred years old and so cool to just see that writing process taking place. Usually the only works you see go through the draft process are your own, so that was just so cool to see. Then, there was a book of poetry (again—I didn’t recognize the author) and it was opened to a particular page. There was a stanza added into one of the poems by hand, using a big arrow and writing in the margins. The stanza talked about sex and the publisher refused to put it into print with that stanza, so the author would go around to book shops and write it in, by hand.
After that, we went to the James Joyce Centre which was generally cool, but my favorite thing was in the gift shop. They had a poster of the complete text of Ulysses, in teeny tiny font, and it was just the coolest thing. I wanted to buy it so badly but I tried to be good. I took a picture of the website name, though, just in case I get back to the States and decide I really do need it.
Then, we went to get lunch at this convenience store-type-thing which was semi-sketchy, but I didn’t get real food. They had hot muffins with soft serve on the top. Giant, chocolate, warm muffins with soft serve on the top. RIGHT? WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS? And it was so inexpensive and so delicious and I was just in heaven.
We went (back) to Trinity College, to go see the Book of Kells and its exhibit. The book is of the four Gospels and I don’t even know how to describe it other than to tell you to just look up pictures. It’s incredible and about 1200 years old and perfectly preserved. The pages are made of calf skin and it took more than 150 calves to make the entire book. The script and the pictures are just so intricate and obviously made with natural pigments but they’re so bright even after 1200 years. The room had 3 security guards and was really darkly lit and had like humidity controls and it was really neat to see.
Okay THEN. Then. Then. We went to the Old Library and I just can’t even. Old- Library- both of them sound atrocious, right? NO. NO. NOT AT ALL. It was quite literally the most astonishing place I’ve ever been in my life. More than 200,000 books, come of which are 600-700 years old. Not a thing can, or will ever, compare to it. Pictures do it no justice, which make me kind of happy but also sad. Obviously, I want everyone to experience it, but at the same time, it’s like my own little secret now. Well, I mean, mine and the millions of other who have seen it, too. But it was just—words can’t describe it, but I can try because I don’t ever want to forget this. Writing about this right now is kind of making me want to cry a little—that’s how I think I know this is special. I mean, Orlando makes me feel like that, too, but I’ve got people and moments invested there. I had no connection to this place when I walked in, and it was just this immediate feeling of being home. Okay, I’ll shut up with the vagueness now. Trying to write without sounding creative writing-y. Go. Okay, immediately after you stepped through these big, dark wooden doors you’re just swallowed by the vastness of the room. It seems like it goes on forever, in all directions. The ceiling is rounded, and there’s just rows upon rows upon rows upon rows of books. And as soon as you start breathing again you’re enveloped by this musty smell of dust, old leather, and newspaper ink. And it was like this high, almost. I can’t even explain it. It was the only time I’ve ever felt like that, ever. I was just speechless, and despite my ramblings, still am. We stayed in there for what seemed like five minutes, but what was actually probably an hour or so. We ran into Professor Klemp (we were all wandering at our own pace) and I made him take a picture with me because he’s one of my favorite people in the world. He was my first English professor and he was the first one to tell me my writing had problems. And I’m not trying to sound cocky or anything when saying that, he just literally was, and it was exactly what I needed and I can never thank him enough for that. And he and I just constantly give each other crap and I love him.
Then, we did some wandering and headed back to the hotel room, where we laughed a lot before going out for dinner. We were headed to the restaurant, but passed this clothing place we’ve been wanted to go to, and decided to go in, which was a giant mistake. 7 girls thinking they’re just going to “browse” in an extremely inexpensive European clothing store. Not even close. We spent almost an hour there, and I left with a new tank top—cream chiffon with navy blue anchors, blue straps, and a bow in the back where they meet— for €9, a canvas backpack for €10, and a super cute floral wallet for €4. Which is good for me. Because I had a dress picked out, too, but decided I didn’t need it. Then, we actually made it to the restaurant, Murray’s, where we had dinner and noticed there was traditional Irish music playing, and then “This Land is Your Land” came on and we realize the lyrics were different…obviously…but that was just really cool. And now, we’re back in the room, talking about our day and being wimps about body aches.
Things I learned today (or yesterday, but forgot until now):
1. The stoplights make spaceship noises. No, for real. I recorded it.
2. Dublin has 1.2 million people.
3. I will never get used to driving on the “wrong” side of the street.
4. Dubliners have a death wish when it comes to traffic.
5. Watching a drunk, yelling Irish woman get arrested is a hundred times funnier than watching a drunk, yelling Oshkosh woman get arrested.
6. Fire alarms at our hotel are super ineffective and just sound like a wake-up call.
7. Irish drink portions range from shot glass to child-sized. It’s like they’re afraid of anything larger than a pint.