My Celtic Adventure | Day One In Dublin

Just an hour in a plane and we were in Ireland. It didn’t feel real. I’d been hoping all my life for that moment, and there it was.

Welcome to Ireland!
Welcome to Ireland!

We flew over the green fields dotted with fluffy sheep that I’d only ever seen in movies and my dreams before landing in the city and taking a bus into the center. We set off right away to see all that we could.

First glimpse of Ireland.
First glimpse of Ireland.

Our first stop was Trinity College – Ireland’s most prestigious university. It’s known for its medical program, famous alumni (including one of my favorite authors – Oscar Wilde) and beautiful campus. We took some time to explore, taking note of where the most important spots were. We’d planned to come back when the exhibits opened – it was still pretty early in the morning.

The Campanile of Trinity College greeted us as soon as we stepped on campus.
The Campanile of Trinity College greeted us as soon as we stepped on campus.

Then, we headed west toward Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral. The castle was closed because it was Sunday, but the grounds and exterior are always open to the public. We walked around the courtyard, marveled at the facade of the chapel, and eventually stumbled upon a garden in the back. It was there that we saw another building that looked castle-like, though this one appeared to be open. As we walked closer, we realized that it was the castle’s stable building, and that there was a small photography exhibit going on inside. Such a fun find!

Dublin Castle's Record Tower is the last remaining piece of the castle's original structure. It was completed in 1228. Next to it is the Chapel Royal, a stunning example of classic Gothic architecture, built some 600 years after the tower.
Dublin Castle’s Record Tower is the last remaining piece of the castle’s original structure. It was completed in 1228. Next to it is the Chapel Royal, a stunning example of classic Gothic architecture, built some 600 years after the tower.
We could see Dublin Castle and its gardens from the castle's stable houses.
We could see Dublin Castle and its gardens from the castle’s stable houses.

Then, we picked up a light lunch at a cafe to eat on the lawn of Christ Church Cathedral. The foliage and almost cloudless sky made for the perfect day for a picnic. Though records of human activity on the spot date back to the early 11th century, the cathedral as we saw it that day was built between the 1300s-1500s (and majorly renovated in the years since). It is one of two remaining medieval cathedrals in Dublin. (Stay tuned for the story of my visit to the other one on my last day in Ireland!)

In we go!
In we go!
Such a beautiful (and massive!) church.
Such a beautiful (and massive!) church.
On the grounds are the preserved remnants of the site's earlier human activity.
On the grounds are the preserved remnants of the site’s earlier human activity.
Inside the main church, looking toward the altar from the back.
Inside the main church, looking toward the altar from the back.
Rows and rows of seats for worshipers.
Rows and rows of seats for worshipers.
There were so many nooks and crannies to explore in the church. Here, we found a chapel behind the main altar.
There were so many nooks and crannies to explore in the church. Here, we found a chapel behind the main altar.
The Christ Church Cathedral crypt is the largest in both Ireland and the UK. It houses lots of artifacts, including this eagle that once served as a lectern from which Gospels and other texts would have been read.
The Christ Church Cathedral crypt is the largest in both Ireland and the UK. It houses lots of artifacts, including this eagle that once served as a lectern from which Gospels and other texts would have been read.
The church's crypt contains the remains of several important church figures, many of the church's treasures, several statues and even some costumes from a television show that used the church as a set.
The church’s crypt contains the remains of several important church figures, many of the church’s treasures, several statues and even some costumes from a television show that used the church as a set.
We then climbed back up into the main church. This is what the main altar looks like from up close.
We then climbed back up into the main church. This is what the main altar looks like from up close.
Beautiful stained glass windows adorn the walls of Christ Church Cathedral.
Beautiful stained glass windows adorn the walls of Christ Church Cathedral.

After visiting the church, we made our way back to Trinity College to check out the now-open exhibits – namely, the Book of Kells and the library. The Book of Kells is one of the oldest surviving original prints of the Gospels, having been completed around 800. It’s also a masterpiece – every one of its 680 pages is decorated in some way. In fact, many pages are fully covered with intricate Celtic knots, crosses, symbols and letters barely distinguishable from the scenes embellishing them. Unfortunately, photo-taking was not allowed in the exhibit, but you can check out some photos of the book here.

The library? Not only is it the largest in all of Ireland, but it’s said to have inspired JK Rowling’s image of Hogwarts’ library. It was nothing short of magical.

The library's "long room" is 213 feet long. It's home to over 200,000 of the oldest books in the school's collection.
The library’s “long room” is 213 feet long. It’s home to over 200,000 of the oldest books in the school’s collection.
Marble busts line the walkway in the Long Room, each depicting an important philosopher, scientist, writer or academic.
Marble busts line the walkway in the Long Room, each depicting an important philosopher, scientist, writer or academic.
Several historic books are on display in the library as well - giving visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the library's famous collection.
Several historic books are on display in the library as well – giving visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the library’s famous collection.
This library inspired JK Rowling as she wrote about the library at Hogwarts!
This library inspired JK Rowling as she wrote about the library at Hogwarts!

We took the rest of the evening to do some shopping, eat some good Irish pub food, and check in on the tour that we’d be joining the next morning. We’d be hopping on a bus to see the entire country – making a loop to the north, to the west, and to the south.

My dream trip into the Irish countryside was about to begin!

Such a beautiful time of the year to visit, too. I might have missed fall in New England, but fall in Ireland was a pretty good substitute.
Such a beautiful time of the year to visit, too. I might have missed fall in New England, but fall in Ireland was a pretty good substitute.
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