hacker emblem
jaegerfesting
Search | Tags | Photos | Flights | Gas Mileage | Log in

Dublinia

Started: 2019-09-04 19:28:15

Submitted: 2019-09-04 23:53:07

Visibility: World-readable

20th August 2019: In which the intrepid narrator explores the Viking and medieval history of Dublin, and wonders about his own place in the Irish diaspora

After spending five days at Worldcon, we had three days left to play tourist in Dublin before heading back to North America.

Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

The first thing we did on Tuesday morning after Worldcon was to walk a few blocks to Dublinia, a child-friendly museum showing Dublin's Viking history (on the ground floor) and medieval history (on the next floor). The museum itself was located in a building constructed as the synod hall for the cathedral across the street -- and is still linked to the cathedral by a covered stone arch bridge.

Julian at Dublinia
Julian at Dublinia

Inside the museum were interactive, child-friendly exhibits exploring Dublin's history, starting as a Viking colony. Julian ran ahead of Calvin, so I followed him through the rooms, trying to pick up as much of the experience as I could while hurrying along behind an erratic four-year-old. The end of the Viking era in Dublin was framed dramatically as Ragnarock -- the Viking apocalypse, or the end of the world (in a manner of speaking).

Calvin takes a selfie as an armored knight
Calvin takes a selfie as an armored knight

The next floor showed Dublin's medieval history, with a large diorama of the city as it existed under English rule (probably in the fourteenth century), with lighting highlighting different pieces of the city timed with a video (which, along with the glass case, made it difficult to photograph the model, so I can't share it with you here). I was able to follow the roads from the model and find the location of our apartment, across the corner from a minor church on the edge of the model.

Bridge leading to Christ Church Cathedral
Bridge leading to Christ Church Cathedral

We ate a snack at the museum's cafe, then took the bridge across the street to Christ Church Cathedral, now part of the Church of Ireland (itself part of the Anglican Communion).

Inside Christ Church Cathedral
Inside Christ Church Cathedral

The cathedral was a stunning Gothic cathedral (except for the south transept, which was built in the earlier Romanesque style; the guide-map pointed out the distinctive differences in the rounded arches present only in the south transept).

Main altar at Christ Church Cathedral
Main altar at Christ Church Cathedral

We tried to explain the cruciform groundplan to Calvin, who took the idea of a cross-shaped footprint too literally and had trouble seeing the shape hidden in the cathedral's floorplan.

Heart of Saint Laurence O'Toole
Heart of Saint Laurence O'Toole

We dropped into the crypt to look around, then returned to the main floor of the cathedral to find the weirdest relic on display: the heart of Saint Laurence O'Toole, contained in its own heart-shaped container, placed inside a glass box to protect it from being stolen (again). (Calvin, once again taking things too literally, complained that the human heart obviously shouldn't be in a heart-shaped container.)

Chapel at Christ Church Cathedral
Chapel at Christ Church Cathedral

I was impressed by the Gothic cathedral, faithfully restored to its original grandeur.

Looking down the ambulatory at Christ Church Cathedral
Looking down the ambulatory at Christ Church Cathedral

(Now that I'm writing this blog post, and reviewing the pictures I took (and reading up on the Architecture of cathedrals and great churches on Wikipedia) I am possessed with the urge to build a cathedral in Lego. I'm going to try to resist the urge for now and hope it passes before I find and install Lego CAD software and figure out how to make Gothic arches in Lego.)

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

We emerged into rain (a contingency we were prepared for; I had my new summer raincoat in my bag) and walked towards the playground at St. Stephen's Green. The rain waned as we stopped for crepes for a light late lunch, then waxed again as we finished eating.

Julian, Kiesa, and Calvin walk down a walled path in Dublin
Julian, Kiesa, and Calvin walk down a walled path in Dublin

By the time we got to St. Stephen's Green, it was raining enough that the kids no longer wanted to play at the playground, so we caught the tram to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. (Calvin forgot his stored-value Link card, so I bought an all-day ticket for Calvin.) The museum was set up in the basement of a warehouse building on the north bank of the river Liffey, in a series of low-ceiling barrel-vaulted rooms filled with multimedia exhibits telling the story of emigration out of Ireland, driven by religious persecution, political upheaval, and economic necessity. Between 9 and 10 million people born in Ireland emigrated, more than the population of Ireland; possibly including some of my ancestors, as part of my mixture of European heritage. Each gallery explored a specific facet of the emigrant experience: who they were, why they left, where they went, what discrimination they faced when they got to where they were going, the cultural legacy they brought with them, and the the contributions members of the Irish diaspora have made to the world.

The museum was interesting, but I felt like i couldn't get the full effect of the story of Irish emigration without having a better idea where my own family history intersected Ireland. (And, possibly, having to keep track of my children in the museum didn't help my ability to concentrate on the museum.)

After the museum, we headed out in search of supper, and we were heading towards Cornucopia again when I spotted The Cedar Tree, a Lebanese restaurant I had identified as a possible supper location, except that their website was down and I couldn't see enough of their menu to confirm whether they had adequate vegetarian food for us. Their menu looked encouraging; Kiesa and I ordered the two-person vegetarian meze, which started with a table full of tiny plates including various kinds of humus, plus potatoes cooked with lemon and several fried dough-wrapped dumplings. (Our kids ate a selection of vegetarian appetizers; though once we saw the menu inside the restaurant we saw that one page had been omitted from the menu displayed on the street, and that page included actual vegetarian main dishes.)

Vegetarian meze at The Cedar Tree
Vegetarian meze at The Cedar Tree

Then, just as we were wrapping up the small plates, our server brought out the main: a dish of cooked tender eggplant (or, more likely, aubergine in the local dialect), which was delightful.

We walked back to our apartment for the night, and I began to make plans to take the kids out into Dublin by myself the next day.

You've reached a new low when you start naming your condiments.
- Bitscape, 13 December 2001