Tuesday was the whirlwind walking tour of Dublin day. I started off with the campus tour of Trinity College Dublin (where I'm staying), which gave background on the main buildings and history of the college. The repeating theme of the tour was, "And this building was designed in [date] by [name] and then the college built it and never paid him for his designs." (Ok, so maybe it only happened for two or three of the main buildings.) The tour ended up in the Old Library which houses the several early medieval gospel books, including the Book of Kells. There's a vast an fascinating set of displays on the history, production, purpose, etc. of these early books before you get to the small room where the Kells and Durrow gospels are displayed (also one other I didn't note the name of?). Even though people were let into the room in small groups, there was no traffic control and you could easily spend half an hour there without getting close enough to see them unless you were willing to be very pushy. So I saw the books (what can I say, I'm pushy). Impressive, but other than being able to see the three-dimensionality of some of the inks and paints, you get a much better idea of the artistry from any half-decent facsimile.
The tour then leads to the "Long Room" which houses the library's older books (as well as a display of the so-called Brian Boru harp). See picture above. They have a peculiar shelving system, based on a combination of date of acquisition and shelving books in decreasing size as you go up the cases. Which, I suppose, makes sense because I'd hate to be teetering on top of a tall ladder reaching over my head to lift down a folio-sized book.
I met Liz Bourke at noon at the Campanille and after luch at her favorite soup place, we set out on a meandering tour through the most interesting Georgian and (much fewer) medieval parts of Dublin. I highly recommend Liz as a tour guide! Very knowledgeable. We hit most of the better known churches (including her favorite, Saint Audoen's, which is the oldest continuously-used church in Dublin -- see picture), Dublin castle, the old parliament building (now a bank), then a walk up the river past the Guinness plant to see Kilmainham Hospital (now an art gallery) and its formal gardens. Then back to central Dublin for a fish & chips dinner and dawdling over cider at a pub until it was time for the play: Carl Capek's "R.U.R." at the Peacock Stage (part of the Abbey Theatre complex) about which I will have more to say in a review.
Today (Wednesday...it is Wednesday, right? the days are merging together) is scheduled for the archaeology museum and recovering a bit from yesterday's walking. I've been talked into see the Viking-centered Dublinia Museum tomorrow, about which I'd had questions as it advertising made it sound a bit school-group oriented.