Wednesday, July 06, 2011

After a very enjoyable week in Oxford with Taffy, Julie and Emily I left on Sunday morning for Heathrow where I got on a plane for Dublin. I was here last in 2009 and this time am staying with DVR and Kirsty H in their very nice seventh-floor flat in the redeveloped docklands area.

DVR gave me a Luas card (their version of an Oyster or myki) for me to use on the trams. There are only two lines, but they provide access to all the areas I want to visit. The system is very easy to use, but differs from Melbourne's myki system in that you must touch on with your card on the stop before you board - there are no card-readers on the trams - and touch off when you get off. An ideal way to avoid clogging the doors of crowded trams. According to DVR the inspectors (and I have already encountered one) are very strict about infringements and will fine you on the spot.

I have spent the last couple of days re-acquainting myself with the city: yesterday I visited the Chester Beatty Museum with its extraordinary collection of ancient manuscripts and books, and its current exhibition of the books of Henri Matisse.

Today I took the tram to the Kilmainham Gaol where I joined a tour around the grim prison. Starting in the earliest part we saw the ghastly environment locals were condemned to, including young children, often for very minor offences. A later section was built based on Jeremy Bentham's idea of the panopticon which housed only one prisoner per cell - this section of the gaol has been used in a number of films, including In the name of the father. Outside we were shown the bleak exercise yards and, even more sombre, the Stone-breaking Yard where many prisoners, including some interned after the 1916 Easter Rising, faced the firing squad. Grim.

After this I needed a change so I took the tram along to the Collins Barracks part of the National Museum to see, among other things, a lovely collection of Irish silver.

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