Monday we went first to the Little Museum of Dublin, which gave us a very nice feel for the social history of the city. It occupies a handsome house and is concerned mainly with the cultural and social history of the last century of the city. The interpreter who gave the tour there was lively and charming, and rather than trying to explain everything, pointed out her favorite items in the museum.
These ranged from a first edition of James Joyce's novel The Dubliners (along with the guide's advice on what quote to memorize if you want to pretend you've read it), letters written to Alfie Byrne, the most popular Lord Mayor of Dublin, and memorabilia from the Irish rock band U2. We thoroughly enjoyed the museum and the tour both.
From there, we dodged a few sprinkles and stopped in to the General Post Office (GPO) and saw their exhibition on the 1916 rising. It too has a lovely building.
The location is of course apropos for the exhibition, because this is the very building that the Irish republicans occupied in their doomed attempt to rebel against British rule while the British were occupied fighting WWI. You can still see the marks of the bullets left on the facade of the building. The quality of the historical commentary was impressive and evenhanded.
From there a tram bore us up to Kilmainham Gaol, which was thematically appropriate since that was where the leaders of the 1916 rising were executed. Particularly impressive were a series of contemporary portraits, done on scratchboard, of many of the people involved.
Our guide there was himself from Kilmainham, and the tour was excellent, ranging from the conditions suffered by the prisoners (appalling), the design of the jail (considered progressive at the time, due to the light, and the open design that let the guards monitor the cells) and the prisoners held there. Drawings done by prisoners remain on some of the cell walls:
A cross marks the spot where James Connelly was executed:
After the jail tour we hefted our backpacks and trekked back down to the train station. We cut through the park adjacent to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The park featured infographic plaques. We were advised of sheep:
That seemed reasonable enough. Then hedgehogs...which struck us as a bit odd.
At this point we began to suspect that we might be in the presence of Art. Then we got squirrels:
And last but far from least, housecats, which we found highly appropriate for us.
At this point we encountered some exceedingly odd sculpture and hastily made our escape before we saw anything else that we couldn't unsee. (I've spared you a photograph. Be happy.)
We finally reached the train station where we achieve cold drinks, a snack and train tickets to Cork. A pleasant journey by train later, we reached our destination, on the banks of the river Lee.
We only had time to take a quick walk through the central part of the city and then we finished out the day with an excellent dinner, and plans to hit the ground running...or at least walking briskly...in the morning.