Today we thought we’d try something different: the Dublin Hop On-Hop Off bus. For a very reasonable price you get a narrated tour of the city and you’re free to hop off at any of their stops and then hop back on later to continue your tour. We sat outside on the top of the bus for the best view. However it was rather cold and windy. You can find these buses in almost all major cities.
At stop 15 we hopped off to visit Trinity College and the Irish National treasures: the Book Of Kells and the harp of Brian Boru. Trinity College is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I.
Located in the Old Library is a permanent exhibition of the Book of Kells. The Book is an illuminated manuscript in Latin, containing the four gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. The exhibit details the creation of the Book and other similar texts.
In an adjacent small dimly lit room, the book is open to two pages each day for viewing. We have never seen such finely detailed lettering and artwork. It really was amazing. Photos weren’t allowed so the picture below is from a postcard that we bought.
After viewing the Book of Kells we went upstairs to the “Long Room”. This is the main chamber in the old library at the College. It is over 200 feet long and holds over 200,000 thousand of rare, and in many cases very early, books. It was really awesome to see. You feel really dwarfed by its size. Wrought iron staircases give you access to the upper levels.
In a case in the “Long Room” is the 2nd National treasure the ‘Brian Boru’ Harp. While the Brian Boru connection is questionable it does seem likely that it was used in creating the Harp image on the Coat of Arms of Ireland (facing left).
When we left Trinity College it was time for lunch. We walked along the nearby streets in Temple Bar, Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, until we found the Vat House Bar.
The Vat House Bar is a typical Irish pub with great food as well.
Ron ordered the Traditional Irish Stew (with lamb, pictured below) while Paul ordered the Traditional Irish Coddle (sausages, cream, potatoes, carrots, onions, and seasoning). We both ordered a pint of the local Five Lamps Ale. For dessert we ordered the Brown Bread ice cream. All was very tasty.
After lunch we hopped back on the bus to finish our tour. We stayed on the bus for the rest of the trip passing several points of interest along the way.
First up was the Guinness Brewery. Outside there were long lines waiting to take the tour and a tasting. It you look at the Guinness logo you’ll notice the harp (this time facing right).
Next, in Phoenix Park was a memorial in the form of a large obelisk for the Duke of Wellington who was born in Merrion Square here in Dublin. The four metal plaques with scenes from his life were cast from canons captured at the battle of Waterloo.
A short distance from Phoenix Park is Merrion Square. The statue of Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and novelist, is located here as he was raised in the Wilde family home at the corner of the park.
Lastly we passed by St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) is buried.
We found the Hop On Hop Off to be a great experience and will definitely do it again.