A Little Time and a Keyboard: Experiencing history in Dublin, Ireland

Experiencing history in Dublin, Ireland

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Just walking around Dublin was such a joy. We benefited greatly by the unexpected amount of sun during our visit so we were able to easily cover a lot of ground. However, we did enjoy a good Irish rain! So refreshing! Dublin has quite a cache of attractions of historical and cultural significance so we did take in as much as we reasonably could while allowing for some time just to enjoy the lovely environs.

A morning or afternoon at Christ Church Cathedral and Dublinia

One of the most known landmarks in Dublin is Christ Church Cathedral. From the exterior, Christ Church Cathedral is certainly impressive and worth a look around. The interior is even more impressive than the outside. The organ pipes are a sight to behold and quite possibly the tallest I have seen! Unfortunately, I could not a great camera angle on them for a picture! Below is the crypt which dates back to the 12th century so take a peak down there. Also of note is the effigy of Strongbow who was a descendant of William the Conqueror, a major figure in the Norman invasion of Ireland and helped rebuild Christ Church. The original cathedral on the site was probably constructed in 1028. While there have been many changes and updates, there are still parts from the medieval times that remain such as the crypt. So much history!

Across the street from Christ Church is Dublinia which houses exhibits bringing Viking and Medieval Dublin back to life. Using real artifacts, replicas and Viking and Medieval "residents," families can view snapshots of what life was like so long ago. Dublinia is easily a favorite for kids--my daughter loved it and we observed many other children enjoying various exhibits. In addition to depicting scenes from long ago, there also are hands-on exhibits that give a little more of the flavor of the times. One that we particularly enjoyed allowed us to lift different weapons and armaments to see if we would be able soldiers. We were truly surprised about how heavy so pieces were. We would have been buff in the day!

Dublinia also incorporates a true medieval tower. Be sure to climb to the top to get a nice view. Plus, you can take a bridge across the street back to Christ Church. The bridge has flower shaped stained glass windows which are quite lovely! A visit to Christ Church and Dublinia make for a pleasant morning or afternoon visit! Christ Church does open for visitors at 9:00AM (except Sundays--check times)--a little earlier than some other attractions so you may want to start your day there.

Piecing together history with the Book of Kells and the Archaeology Museum

My daughter is a bit too young but most of us adults have heard about the Book of Kells. When I learned that the Book of Kells is housed at Trinity College in Dublin, I knew that we had to visit. While I really loved the idea of seeing it for myself, I thought that it would be pretty cool for my daughter to know she has seen it when she learns about it in school.

Walking through Trinity College.
The Book of Kells finds home in the Old Library at Trinity College. The library itself is a sight to behold. Gorgeous wood walls, ceiling and shelves! There are viewing cases with other books of note displayed. You will have fun picking out some of your favorites!

The Book of Kells is an amazingly intricate illuminated biblical manuscript crafted by monks in about 800 AD.  The exhibit is very detailed and reveals the entire process of how the Book of Kells was made. I particularly enjoyed seeing how dyes were made. The Book of Kells itself is under glass and only one page is revealed per day.

Being of such significance, there may be a wait to get in to see The Book of Kells. You can purchase Fast Track tickets online for more immediate admission. Once you are inside, you will understand why admittance needs to be limited! The Book of Kells exhibit opens up at 9:30AM M-Sat and Sundays May-September. It opens later on Sundays (12:30PM) during the off season so you may want to plan to visit the exhibit at the start of your day, too.

Before leaving Dublin, be sure to also check out the National Museum of Ireland --which is free! We spent a morning exploring the Archaeology Museum (part of the National Museum of Ireland) towards the end of our trip. I am glad we waited because the visit provide a great way to reflect on the history we had learned. Additionally, items discovered in the tomb at Tara were in the museum, so we had a lovely little tie-in there! A grand way to reflect on our trip!

Viking swords

The Archaeology Museum is also where the bog bodies are. Of course, these are pretty cool to the adults but some of the kiddos may be a bit squeamish. You will easily be able to avoid these if your children will have an issue seeing them. There are plenty of exhibits to enjoy including early church relics, Viking weaponry, the early Irish people and art. Plus, there are a couple of hands-on areas to help kids learn what it is like to be an archaeologist.

Relics from Tara
As you can see, there is so much to do--and of course not enough time! Planning is key if you have a certain number of places you would like to see. If you plan ahead you may be able to group explorations together depending on proximity and opening time. Dublin has such a wealth of places for the family that your family will have no problem having a fun, rich experience!

1 comment

  1. Thank you for the amazing information! We are heading to Dublin in 2 months. Very excited!