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Trip Report Our Sadly Shortened Visit to Ireland

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Last Wednesday we set off on a long-anticipated visit to Ireland -- first time for us both -- anticipating a stay of twelve nights. However, one day into the trip we received news that my father-in-law, who has been seriously ill but had recently been stable, had been rushed to the hospital. As we learned further details, my wife and I decided to return to the US so she could be with her sisters, mother, and we hope, he father.

With that cheery introduction, I thought I'd write up a short account, in thanks for the help I received both directly from replies to my questions and indirectly from trip reports. Plus, it will keep me from worrying.

Our Hotel
The Westbury. This is a rather grand establishment just off Grafton Street. It was not our first choice because of the expense, but Dublin fills up quickly sometimes, and the Westbury was the first that could match our dates with vacancies. It's very well run, with a very popular lobby serving both afternoon tea and their Marble Bar. There's a bistro downstairs called Balfes where we ate on night because we didn't want to wander around town looking for a restaurant in a heavy downpour. Food was quite good and the staff accommodating.

Cell Phone
I went to a carphone Warehouse on Grafton to look into a sim card for my iPhone, which we planned to use with Google Maps as a GPS. They sold me a My3 card for €20, which offered enough data, texting and minutes. It seemed to work well, though of course we didn't get a chance to put it through its paces.

The Book of Kells and Trinity's Old Library
The famed illuminated manuscript lives up to its reputation. The two leaves currently on exhibit are certainly the most profusely and densely decorated pages I have ever seen. The introductory materials leading to the exhibit are outstanding. The old library, is a simply stunning long barrel-vaulted room, lined with old volumes reached by rolling ladders.

The Archaeology Museum
An exceptionally good collection of prehistoric artifacts, including some beautifully shaped projectile points. Stunning medieval and earlier gold work. A treasury with ornate bells, reliquaries and other church pieces. A fascinating and rather gruesome exhibition of bog-preserved bodies -- thought to be human sacrifices or penal victims. Upstairs, more medieval and Viking era exhibits. all well done. If you have any interest inCeltic art and design, let alone history, you will find this museum extremely rewarding.

Natural History
Give it a miss, though it is a quaint old collection.

Easter Uprising Walking Tour
Led by a very passionate college student, the complicated story of the quest for Irish independence comes into clearer focus. Visits to the General Post Office, Dublin Castle, and various sites where the fighting took place.

We also walked around Merrion Square, St Stephen's Green and various neighborhoods -- often very charming.

Food and Drink
We hadn't really planned on fine dining, except at one country hotel, so for the most part took pot luck -- the above cited bistro meanl, two nice lunches at Davy Byrne's (more restaurant than pub, and a necessary stop for any fan of Ulysses, for it was here that Leopold Bloom at his lunch of gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy. They were offering a special of that same lunch for Bloomsday Week at €13.95. Although I am an admirer of Joyce and Ulysses I opted for the excellent open face crab sandwich.

Had a fine dinner at l'Gueuleton, which, contrary to the guide books, does take and highly recommends reservations.

A very popular pub/restaurant which we did not get too was the Hairy Lemon. I regret not having a chance to try their chowder.

I have to admit, the famed pubs didn't much appeal. The crowd was much younger and rowdier than we usually enjoy. I wish we'd been able to visit come country pubs, which I'm sure would have been more agreeable.

These all went smoothly, car and hotels both. Only one, unfortunately the most expensive, will charge us, in the event they are unable to rebook the room (not holding my breath). However, they required seven days notice and we were only four days away, so they were perfectly within their rights and I don't blame them.

Overall we would love to return and see the countryside we missed.

My father-in-law has stabilized somewhat, but, truly, it is only a matter of time, whether days, weeks or months we do not know. My wife is with her family for the next few days, and that is where she should be. Travel can seem very important at times, but events like this help us keep it in proper perspective.

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