Dublin, originally founded as a Viking settlement along the Liffey River, now boasts a populataion of nearly 1.5 million in the metro area and is the biggest city and bustling heart of the Republic of Ireland. I’m sure Dublin deserves at least at week if you want to savor shopping on Grafton Street or tour all the siteslike Dublin Castle, but alas—we just had a day, so we did what we usually do inbig cities: we zipped into town first thing in the morning and hopped on a brightgreen Dublin tour bus! In 90 minutes, we got a birds’ eye view of all the most notable sites in the city with a colorful, running commentary. We whisked byPhoenix Park and saw the obelisk commemorating the first Duke of Wellington.We drove past the gigantic Guinness Factory and learned how they’d had to relocate the psychiatric hospital from under the brewery’s shadow, since the stench (to my nostrils) of yeast brewing made it nearly impossible for their alcoholic patients to recover! The tour guide told us tales of the heroic efforts ofDaniel O’Connell, a 19th-century nationalist leader, and of the union leader, “BigJim Larkin,” who championed the cause of unskilled workers in the early 20th century. After our orientation tour, we stopped at Trinity College, which is the oldest university in Ireland, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. We joined awalking tour led by a philosophy professor with a dry sense of humor and a unique demeanor that conjured up visions of Count Daracula. The tour began atthe Campenile Bell Tower at the center of the campus, past all the buildings andiconic sculptures, such as Arnaldo Pomodoro’s “Sphere within a Sphere, & endedat the line to see the fabulous “Book of Kells,” a monumental rendition of the four gospels from the 800′s with exquisite scripting and glowing illuminations.By then, it was more than lunchtime. I’d read that the best fish’n'chips was at Leo Burdocks, but they were a take-out only, and we were just tired enough to want to sit down, so we went down the street and had a fabulous lunch at the Bull and Castle, complete with a complimentary side of mashed peas. Excellent!There are two especially famous and beautiful cathedrals in Dublin. We visitedChrist Church Cathedral first, a magnificent tribute to our Lord, founded in 1028AD and filled with wonderful mosaic floors, statues and other treasures (like thisgolden lectern), and adorned with richly ornamented stained glass windows thatportray the biblical stories for those who cannot read down throughout the ages.Christ Church also has the largest cathedral crypt (cave-like basement) to be found anywhere in Ireland or Britain. It’s very cool (literally) and worth visiting!The other wonderful cathedral is St. Patrick’s. It is said to have been built on thesite near the well where St. Patrick baptized converts as early as 450 AD, making it the oldest Christian site in Dublin. The present cathedral is massive and magnificent, filled with soaring stained glass windows above and elaborate floors inlaid with beautiful geometric designs. Best of all, the cathedrals are bothactively holding services where scriptures are read and God’s praises are sung.After a time of quiet reflection within the cathedrals, we enjoyed a pleasant strollthrough St. Stephen’s Green. Alan always says he feels closest to God in a bigcathedral, but for whatever reason, I feel closer to God just out in nature. I guessthe most important thing is to love God and be good neighbors wherever we are!
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hand all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40).