Tuesday, April 12, 2011
A tour in rebellion
This time 'round my parents came for a week, and have only just left this morning. With Claire in London, they've an agenda that involves seeing her as well. It is well worth reflecting that we are now very much locals (as compared to their trip last year) and as a result, it was a very different trip from their last one. We took them to all our favorite sights; we knew all the restaurants; and so the experience was much more about us showing them around, rather than playing the tourist ourselves.
To start with... a bit of a flashback... as Brad still promises an Italy-based blog (perhaps just a photo blog if he can eke out a minute to do it). Regardless he had a fab time, loved Udine, would recommend it for an "authentic" Italian experience, and (perhaps most importantly) he has a new interest in powerline research (and not just because they know how to wine and dine their presenters -- but a glass paired with each course in an 8 course meal certainly didn't hurt)!
While Brad was basking in the warmth of the Italian sunshine, Nikolai and I were entertaining Grammy and Panda. We took them to a few repeated locations, however we also went to a few novel, blog-worthy sights.
Glasnevin Cemetery (aka Prospect Cemetery): this is the largest cemetery in Dublin, and is easily seen from the train as you approach Drumcondra station. My mother has always been a bit of a cemetery person (this had disastrous consequences for Claire and I in the 1980's as we both are still completely terrified of ghosts) so she and I left Panda and Nikolai at home for a trip to the cemetery. It was a very interesting cemetery, in regards to those involved in the uprising. As either everyone is buried there, or they have a monument mark their death. Despite having over 1 million graves, the cemetery is not that old... as prior to 1824 Catholics were not allowed to bury their dead in a cemetery. ...Honestly... it's no wonder the cemetery is full of rebellion leaders.
The National Botanic Gardens: touted to contain over 20 000 different plant species, including 4,000 rare specimens. It does sound a bit like an old lady (the blue haired kind, not the hip Grammy kind!!) looking at boring flowers, including XX number of roses, some gardenias and orchids. In fact it was hardly a destination for us, other than it happened to fall directly on our path to the Glasnevin cemetery. As a result we only got to do a quick poke around, but I certainly want to go back! Originally created in 1795, the greenhouses and landscaped lawns make you feel very Victorian. Kid gloves, fancy hats and parasols would not be out of place. Plant species are well marked, and organized into themes, including: world foods, (who's seen Cassava before?) cacti, mosses, etc.
Kilmanim Gaol: Brad and I did this on our own, while my parents visited the National Museum of Ireland with Nikolai. It was all that you can imagine... and very Charles Dickson esque. Incarceration peaked during the famine, as even begging was made illegal. People were being executed for steeling bread, and children as young as 8 being locked up with the adults. Coupled with overcrowded conditions, no window panes for "ventilation" and prisoners being kept on a starvation diet (easier to control), disease and death was rampant. The tour also focused on the leaders of the 5 uprisings as many (all?) were incarcerated at gaol. Of note, many of the rebellion leaders were actually Protestants (i.e. Pearse)... as Catholics were not allowed to be educated. The tour was a bit packed (50 pple) so my only recommendation would be to go on a weekday as I'm sure you would learn more from a tour with a smaller crowd.
NUIM Russell Library: this houses the pre 1850's collection... and it's pretty neat. However, only an NUIM student or employee can get in (though they can bring guests); and you have to pre-book an appointment in order to get in. The library has a pretty hefty collection, with a number of items on display. If you're keen to peruse some historical books, check out their blog for a virtual tour. To continue on our theme of rebellion, we also learned that St. Patrick's college only came into existence because the British feared that Catholic priests going abroad to be educated may be planted with the seeds of rebellion. Given the state of the Penal Laws against the catholics at the time, Catholic priests were pretty much espionage artists anyways. Well, the British decided that allowing Catholic priests to be educated in Ireland would at least enable them to have "inspections" of the college.
Brad had the camera in Italy, so I'll have to wait till my mom sends me some photos... but the above photo is a hint of what we did next.