Ireland day 0318. Friday 12 August 2022- Deadzoo
One of the best things about having visitors is that you get to go into Dublin and do all the interesting things that you really enjoy but can’t justify doing again when it’s just you.
I’ll keep this brief as I have written about most of the things we saw today many times before. But today was a bit different in two important ways.
Firstly, the weather. It felt like Barcelona! Portmarnock beach from the upper deck of the H2 bus to town looked like the Costa del Sol. And in Dublin itself, the streets and parks were humming with activity and all the bars and cafés had set themselves up in the streets and were packed with diners enjoying the full-on al fresco experience. The temperature was just right too – around 24C which was comfortably warm without being oppressive. It was great.
And the second difference today was an unexpected museum visit. We had dropped in to the Seamus Heaney exhibition at the Bank of Ireland on College Green and got talking to the curator. I mentioned that I had been impressed by Ireland’s National Museums and he asked if we’d been to the Natural History Museum yet. Now, as I used to work at the Natural History Museum in London I’d had more than a passing interest in its counterpart here in Dublin. But when we arrived last year, I discovered that sadly it was closed for renovations. But the Heaney curator revealed that the museum had (partly) reopened last week, and was definitely worth a visit. So we mentally added it in to our agenda for later in the day.
But first, once we’d left Seamus behind, we headed on down Grafton Street and over St Stephen’s Green to the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI). Actually, we weren’t heading to the museum itself, as we had been there before (and really enjoyed the Pat Ingoldsby video installation) but rather to the excellent café in its basement. We arrived just in time for lunch, so relaxed in the courtyard outside with a glass of nice wine and a breakfast braa under a tree that looked like an olive but wasn’t. A really sublime moment.
But we had to press on, so checked out Iveagh Gardens and the Human Rights memorial, then round the corner and into the National Concert Hall. It’s an impressive but somewhat monolithic building, which is actually quite nice inside. I don’t know what the acoustics are like but will look forward to going to a concert there one day and checking it out.
Then just a short way further north, we at last pitched up outside the Natural History Museum itself – neatly sandwiched on Merrion Street between the Department of the Taoiseach and Leinster House, seat of the Oireachtas. And it was most definitely open. So we went inside – although the man on the door advised us that only the lower floor was open today as there is an unrepaired leak in the roof that was affecting the upper floor. The doorman also confirmed that it had indeed only recently reopened – a week ago last Tuesday in fact.
When you go in the museum, you can immediately see how it earned its nickname “The Dead Zoo”. Because it is full of stuffed animals – from sharks to hyaenas to ptarmigans – and a few fossilised skeletons too. Perhaps the most impressive of which are the Giant Irish Elk which confront you as soon as you walk through the front door. Quite how these creatures managed to hold these giant structures upright – and indeed why then needed them in the first place – is beyond me.
So a worthwhile and unexpected addition to our excursion today, and I’m already looking forward to the upper floor reopening. But our day wasn’t done yet. We still needed to say hello to Molly Malone, and then to pop into the Temple Bar for a traditional end-of-day pint. It was heaving in there – as I think it probably always is – but absolutely packed with atmosphere. It was definitely worth a visit, even if the price of a pint of Guinness has gone up to an eye-watering €8.75 (that’s a 10% increase in the price since we last visited in May).
Well that was pretty much that. A quick look at Ha’penny Bridge on the way back to Tara Street and then the DART to Malahide rounded off the day nicely. Dublin was looking its very best today – I really don’t think it could possibly have been any better. And I think Val and I both actually felt quite proud to show off our adoptive home city to our guest today. Tomorrow we are heading out into the countryside – and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the day will turn out as successfully and enjoyably as today has done.
Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
(No map today)