Over this past year, whilst I was in charge of wedding planning, Matt was in charge of the honeymoon. With both we’d sit down, discuss the details and agree upon decisions, but then each go off to do the emails and organise our own allocated “event”. We thought this would work well; like delegated responsibility that also allowed each of us moments of surprise or at least moments of feet-up-no-stress-everything-is-taken-care-of-bliss. And for the most part this system of sorting-shizz-out went swimmingly.
When it came to the honeymoon, we were pretty much in agreement about what we wanted; local and low-key. After the wedding (and all 12 months of planning and preparations) we didn’t want long flights or exotic disease injections; itineraries packed with sites to see or dramatically different climates to adjust to. We just wanted somewhere we could crash. Somewhere that was new to us, yet familiar. A place we could easily ramble round at our own speed, but still find landscapes we hadn’t seen before; equally losing ourselves to new adventures and also taking days off to read or relax or do whatever it is people do on honeymoons.
In terms of a location, we quickly settled upon the Republic of Ireland. It ticked the box of being somewhere neither of us had been before, plus it was close enough that we knew travelling and adjusting would be fine. Also from what we could tell (from Google Images) it was quiet and picturesque; with cloud-topped mountains, lush rolling hills and enough sheep, loches, fairytale bridges, castle ruins and waterfalls to keep me snap-happy for days. Also flying from Newquay meant landing in Dublin. And (although a city break was never on the cards for us) this allowed me at least one whole indulgent day of cobblestone-appreciation, proper-coffee-drinking and full-frontal-fawning over galleries, museums and architecture. In the days to come Matt could take me on all the treks he wanted, but in Dublin I was in culturally-caffeinated-charge.
The main thing I wanted to do in Dublin was visit Trinity College’s old library. We were staying in a tiny 1 room Air BnB “studio” located on Thomas Street (basically the same long straight as Trinity College) so we walked. Passing by Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle, City Hall, the Bank of Ireland and the Irish Houses of Parliment (it actually turned into a rather serendipitous-site-seeing walk) till we found ourselves in the middle of Trinity College’s fresher’s fair, teaming with free food for all who looked student-like.
I should say here that to get to the library you have to head to the ‘Book of Kell’s building’, buy a ticket (about $10 for adults) and you’re first led into an exhibit on the aforementioned Book of Kells. Which we may or may not have walked through slightly faster than is appropriate. But up a flight of stairs, around the corner and you enter into this sublime wooden hall filled with gold lettered aisle, a spiral staircase, classic marble busts of academics and philosophers and (best of all) all of the books – complete with a very pungent old book smell. It was heavenly.
For me (and I’m sure for many others) libraries have long been magical, other-worldly places in the most mundane sense. Often run by your local council (often a little run down) yet full of runaway escapes to other worlds and lives and people. Located at the end of my local high street, I remember many summers frequenting the children’s section; completing reading challenges and heaving home canvas bags heavy with books. Twelve (if I remember correctly) was the most books you were permitted to check out. And with every trip, generally upon witnessing the stamping of books, I thought perhaps I might like to be a librarian. Because who could not be happy when surrounded by books and in possession of such a formidable stamp!
Perhaps in an era of e-readers and increasingly lacking literary public services, the library at Trinity College seems all the more beautiful, rare and surreal. Just walking in, is to walk into another world before you’ve even touched a book.
So after absorbing absolutely everything for as long as I could and exhausting one camera battery in the process, we moved on. Next on my agenda was Ireland’s National Library – just around the corner from this one. Again I wasn’t there to read, but to take snaps and swoon at the circular structure, the mosaic flooring and domed blue ceiling of the reading room. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photographs beyond the lobby of the library. Still for all book-lovers keen to visit the library wonders of the world, I’d add it to your list – even if you’re just nipping in after seeing Trinity.
Opposite, in an almost identical building is Ireland’s National Museum of Archaeology and History. With zodiac-themed mosaic flooring, iron filigree balconies and sweeping marble staircases, again I was delighted by the design. Also here I’m pleased to say all entry to the museum is free!
Here I got to entertain my interests in Celtic mythology and ancient civilisations, whilst the notes on geology and early boat building kept Matt pretty happy too. For us the most notable exhibits had to be those surrounding the bog lands and all the artefacts that have been found pretty well preserved in them. Whether these items (and bodies) were purposefully or carelessly thrown in, offered as sacrifices or left for collection later, we can’t always be completely certain. And such speculation I find, unravels ideas in my mind. Setting stories into motion; I find it weirdly wonderfully peculiar that these things happened and exist today. It’s always at these moments (or when watching Time Team) that I wonder what future generations will find and make of us.