Updated: Jun 18, 2022
With another day and a half in Dublin before our flight home, Glen and I opted to see a few more things: National Art Gallery of Ireland, Trinity College Buildings and Library, and the Whiskey Museum. We also wanted to eat some fresh fish from Ireland.
National Art Gallery
The National Gallery itself is beautiful and well laid out. Like many galleries around the world, they have an assortment of artists and art from different periods. I know very little about Irish artists, so I chose to focus my viewing on their works. I especially enjoyed the Irish stained glass exhibit, which featured modern pieces.
This painting by Sean Keating (1889-1977), a portrait of Harry Clarke, is called Thinking out Gobnait. I enjoyed it because it depicts a scene on Inisheer, one of the stops we made. The gallery says:
“Harry Clarke was introduced to the Aran Islands by Keating around 1912, and made his final visit there in 1915. In this painting, which Keating presented to him as a gift, Clarke contemplates the commission to produce stained-glass windows for the Honan Chapel in Cork. St. Gobnait was associated traditionally with both Ballyrouney, Co. Cork and the Aran Islands. Clarke is depicted sitting on a grave slab within the ruins of St. Kevin’s Church in Innisheer. Behind him is the “tree of Inisheer”, which actually stands adjacent to Cill Ghobnait (St. Gobnait’s Church) elsewhere on the island.” (You can click any image to see a larger version.)
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) created this lovely painting, The Cottage Girl. He was inspired by early romantic poetry and the landscaping of country estates. I was struck by child’s expression and appearance because it shows a hard life. Indeed, the gallery says:
“Although a romantic image, hardship and poverty is alluded to by the child’s forlorn expression, torn clothes and broken pitcher, brought in order to take water from the stream.”
The first part of our trip, our stop at Trinity was simply to see the bell tower and get a glimpse of the buildings. During our boat trip I heard so much about the Book of Kells and the people associated with it, that I wanted to see the book in person. “Seeing it” means viewing two facing pages. That's all that's on display at any one time. The exhibit prior to the room that stores the Book of Kells is quite fascinating and informative. In fact, without reading the background information, I doubt many people could truly appreciate the displayed pages.
Before entering the library to see the book, a student took us on a tour of the campus, told us many stories, and led us inside a few other buildings to admire the construction. One of the most memorable stories had to do with the Anatomy Department. In the far past, the teachers encouraged their students to steal bodies from graves so they could study them. The school used to let the public view bodies and parts until ethics became a thing. Now the Anatomy Museum is closed until further notice as they ponder whether showing dead bodies for which they never got permission to take is an ethical practice. I’ll solve that for them. It isn’t.
As much as I appreciated learning about the Book of Kells, I was fascinated by the library. With 20,000 volumes on display, it is mind boggling how anyone would know what’s there. They have a system, and it is not Dewey Decimal. Soon, the library will be closed, all the books moved to safe storage, and the building updated with modern fire suppression equipment. I was lucky to see it prior to its closing. (Image: Trinity College library and ceiling.)
There are many alcohol-related experiences in Ireland, including tours of Jameson and Guinness. I chose the Whiskey Museum because they are not affiliated with any brand. The tour guide gave a history of Irish whiskey by taking us through a series of themed rooms that supported the various facets of whiskey history. As with many tours in Ireland, we ended in a pub where we tasted four different whiskies. Yum!
One doesn’t take an expedition cruise for the food. It was tasty but not spectacular. I suspect most of it was purchased in Costa Rica, which was the last location that the ship sailed. (My suspicion is bolstered by the fact the bar seemed to have a lot of rum.) Other than scones, beer, and whiskey, I didn’t get to taste Irish cuisine during the voyage. Now that we were in Dublin, it was time to try local food at Matt The Thresher. A restaurant recommended by a shipmate, Matt featured Dublin mussels and oysters. After seeing so many mussel farms in the various fjords in which we anchored, I had to try them. They were delicious. The oysters were spectacular. I tried two different varieties, both flavorful without being too salty.