Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Baby Boomer Dublin Days

by Suzanne Fluhr on July 17, 2012 · 19 comments

Trinity College, Dublin

After recovering from our overnight flight to Dublin, Ireland, we were ready to explore.  I invested in two guidebooks that were helpful in planning our Dublin sightseeing:  Rick Steve’s Ireland and Eyewitness Travel’s Top 10 Dublin. Of course, these were supplemented by other sources on the internet. I  also read  A Brief History of Ireland: Land, People, History by Richard Killeen so that we could do our sightseeing with some historical context.

We followed our first night’s dinner in a pizza restaurant with dinners at a Russian restaurant, a Moroccan restaurant, a Spanish restaurant and a French restaurant, all within easy walking distance of Saint Stephen’s Green.  We figured we’d have plenty of time for Irish pub food when we set off on our week long drive around southwest Ireland.  We used TripAdvisor to find restaurants near our hotel and were quite satisfied with our choices.

Warning:  To avoid becoming Dublin road kill, if you are visiting from a country where cars drive on the right as we do in the Americas, make sure you look to the left first and last before crossing a street.  At each intersection (at least in central Dublin), lest you forget, the correct way to look is helpfully painted on the street next to the sidewalk at central Dublin intersections.

Rather than provide a “and then we did this, and then we did that” narrative, here’s our list of activities and places we found worthwhile during our four sightseeing days in Dublin.  (I have provided some of the prices we paid, but obviously it would be extremely prudent (duh) for you to check the websites for these attractions if you intend to visit, to obtain the latest fees and opening times.)

  • Hop On, Hop Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour   We try to do one of these tours on Day One in any new city we visit.  Dublin seems to have two competing companies (red buses or green buses) with very similar pricing (about US$23) and itineraries.  Our ticket was good for 24 hours and included a walking tour (which admittedly, we skipped).  We took the red open top bus that departed from Saint Stephen’s Green near our hotel.   Without hopping off, this tour takes about an hour and a half.  It alternates trips with live commentary in English and recorded commentary in eight different languages.  The concept is that one can get off at any of the stops and then catch a later bus and continue on the tour.  We didn’t get off for the Guinness brewery tour as did most of the people on our bus.  We’re more history buffs than drinkers (not that we don’t enjoy a pint now and then), so we got off at Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) since it would have been too far to walk to on our own from central Dublin.
  • Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)   A visit to the gaol interior requires a one hour guided tour.  There are two tours per hour with an admission cost of about six euro. (As far as I can tell, the official plural of euro is “euro”.) In addition to providing a sobering look at prison conditions over the years (1796-1924), including during the Great Famine years, the tour provided an Irish  history lesson as the guide recounted the history of individuals incarcerated and/or executed here, many for political “crimes”, including Eamon de Valera, a future president of the Republic of Ireland.

    Kilmainham Gaol--Old Section

    There is also an excellent on site museum that chronicles the evolution of the Irish penal system.  A visit to Kilmainham Gaol is not just dispassionately interesting, it is also haunting.

    Kilmainham Gaol (New Section), Dublin

  • Trinity College:  This college, located near Saint Stephen’s Green, was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I of England on the site of a medieval Augustinian monastery.  In prestige, it is the “Harvard” or “Oxford and Cambridge” of Ireland.

    Trinity College, Dublin

    Originally it was open only to upper class, Protestant males.  Women were not admitted until 1904, immediately following the death of the provost who maintained that women would be admitted over his dead body. Catholics and Dissenters (Protestants from the wrong denomination i.e. not Church of Ireland) were barred from matriculation until 1793 and from holding any professorships until 1873.  In a classic case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face (IMHO), the Catholic bishops refused to allow their adherents to attend until the 1970’s  for fear their minds would be polluted by Protestant doctrine (oy vey).

"Sphere Within a Sphere" by Arnaldo Pomodoro -Trinity College, Dublin

The best way to see the college is to go on the half hour guided campus tour given by Trinity College undergraduates.  The tour price is 10 euro and includes the 9 euro fee to see the Book of Kells exhibit.

  • The Book of Kells   Documenting that there was a glimmer of light, even at the far reaches of the known world during the Dark Ages, in the second half of the 8th century, Irish monks working on the Scottish island of Iona, prepared a 680 page illuminated (illustrated) manuscript of the Four Gospels on vellum (calfskin).  To avoid Viking raids, the manuscripts were taken to an Irish monastery at Kells in 806 A.D. until they were transferred to Trinity College in 1654.  Today they are viewed in the treasury of the Old Library of Trinity College after an introductory exhibit which explains their history and the techniques used in creating the vellum, the writing and illuminating, and in binding.  Obviously, the books are carefully conserved, so you won’t be leafing through the volumes, but certain pages will be on display under glass.  After the Treasury, you will walk through the large reading room of the Old Library  (where there are stacks and stacks of old books) before being ushered out through the gift shop—natch.
  • Chester Beatty Library  Although most people think of the Book of Kells as the illuminated manuscript exhibit “must see” in Dublin, we were more impressed by the collection of manuscripts in the Chester Beatty Library—and not just because admission is free.  Chester Beatty was actually a New Yorker who became Ireland’s first honorary citizen in 1957 and this library houses his impressive collection of Christian, Islamic and Asian manuscripts and texts along with some objets d’art.  The collection is beautifully displayed and curated and includes the oldest surviving copy of Paul’s letter to the Romans, dating from c. 180-200 A.D., which is written on papyrus.

    Dublin Castle

    This library is located next to the Dublin Castle.  (We didn’t do an official tour of Dublin Castle which served as the seat of the British administration of Ireland until independence.)

  • Historical Walking Tour  This tour starts at the entrance to Trinity College and costs 12 euro at present.  The tour guides are history graduates of the College.  Our tour guide was a young woman who was a newly minted Ph.D.  She wrote her doctoral thesis on medieval Dublin.  (When not guiding, she waitresses–depressing).  Our tour group had only four people, my husband and me and two native Dubliner brothers.  (Kind of like Philadelphians finally getting around to visiting Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell).  The tour is supposed to last for two hours, but we stayed together for three hours, the last hour spent chatting about all things Irish on a sunlit bench in a park across from the Dublin Castle.
  • National Museum of Archaeology and History:  Before even mentioning the exhibits, I was impressed by this museum itself as a building which opened in 1890.  This museum is part of a complex of buildings that also includes the next door Oireachta (do not ask me to pronounce this), the bicameral legislature of the Republic of Ireland.  The museum has exhibits containing artifacts and narrative covering  from Stone Age Ireland up through the Celts, the Vikings, the Anglo-Normans and the fight for the Irish Free State established in 1922.  Perhaps most interesting (disturbing?) are the well preserved 2,000 year old bodies (and pieces of bodies) recovered from what were once bogs.  It is thought that they were sacrificed as they were found with caches of other items that would have been considered valuables back in the day.  The National Museum also has two other branches:  Natural History and Decorative Arts and History which are housed in separate buildings.
  • Georgian House: #29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street built in 1790.  The houses in the Saint Stephen’s Green area are in the Georgian style of architecture.  (As a Philadelphia native, this style was familiar because one of the Georges was the American favorite (Not!) George III whose obstinacy resulted in the American Revolution.)

    Georgian Style Town Homes - Dublin

    This museum home is decorated in the style of a “middle class” family of the era.  (Maybe not the 1%, but probably upper middle class.).  The home is entered through what would have been the downstairs servants’ entrance.  After viewing a 15 minute video about life in the house told from the point of view of a scullery maid, there is a half hour guided tour with more information and insight into the life of the upstairs family.

  • Grafton Street Shopping:  Full disclosure:  I’m not much of a shopper, but if you are, this pedestrian shopping street is a must visit.  The street starts (or ends) at Saint Stephen’s Green and is many blocks of department size stores and individual retailers.  You can find the usual international suspects like Zara and I admit to indulging in one frappacino at Starbucks on an unusually warm day.  Even if you intend to keep your euro in your pocket, Grafton Street is worth a stroll to sample the street musicians and the pubs and restaurants on intersecting side streets.  At the opposite end, one can find the statue of Molly Malone, also known as “the tart with a cart” for reasons that will be obvious.

    Molly Malone - "The Tart with a Cart"

  • The Temple Bar:   This cobble stoned area of central Dublin adjacent to the south side of the River Liffey, does not have just one bar, it has many, many bars.  (Actually, the “bar” referred to in the name is a reference to a loading “bar” (dock) along the river, but thinking about the kind of bar where people imbibe would certainly capture the essence of the place.)  This once down on its luck skid row has been reclaimed as a cultural area, but at night, apparently the main activity is drinking (with some music masking total degeneracy).  As you might imagine, Mr. and Mrs. Excitement, did not hang in this area after dark.
  • The Parks:  After obsessively checking weather.com for the weeks before our May 19th departure for Ireland, we packed by bringing “layers” with various degrees of water-proofedness, thus insuring that Ireland would experience uncommonly sunny, warm weather during our visit.  Indeed, the Dublin parks were full of very white Irish people, getting sun burned as they dried out from what had apparently been three weeks of fairly unremitting rain.  Central Dublin provides nice parks for meandering or sitting on a park bench to rest museum feet.   Saint Stephen’s Green:  As our hotel, Premier Suites Dublin, was half a block from Saint Stephen’s Green, we passed through this 22 acre green oasis, complete with water features, several times a day.
Merrion Square Dublin

Merrion Square, Dublin

Merrion Square: This square was laid out in 1762 as a private square for the elegant Georgian town homes that surround it.  Today, it’s open to the public.  Phoenix Park:  Our Hop On-Hop Off bus did a swing through this expansive urban park.  If we had more time, we would have enjoyed renting bicycles to tour the park which contains the Dublin Zoo, a formal garden, a restored 15th century tower house and museum, various monuments, the residence of the American ambassador and the residence of the President of the Irish Republic—which looks a lot like the home of the president of another country.

President's House - Phoenix Park

If you are a person with a terrible phobia aversion to driving on the “wrong side” of the road, one could certainly spend a week in Dublin and use some of the days to take bus tours outside the city.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Roz Warren July 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I enjoyed reading this, even though it was about travel, which I normally don’t enjoy reading about. Taking the bus tour on day one is an excellent idea. I’m going to do that this September when I go to London. Also — I’m with you when it comes to the driving-on-the-wrong-side aversion. One of my goals in life is not to get squashed by oncoming traffic. So far, thankfully, I have managed to meet this goal!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne (Just One Boomer) July 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I’m glad to learn that you were able to tolerate reading at least some of my fairly heavy duty travel blog post. London should be “brilliant” in September although I think the Londoners might be suffering from “tourist fatigue” after the Olympics. But, they’ll be happy to have the anti-aircraft missile batteries off their roofs. By all means, keep up your record of not being squashed by oncoming traffic! Stay tuned for my post about our four days in London.

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avatar cindy thetravelgal July 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Good post – ok, I’m totally biased. Your highlighting the Chester Beatty Library, which is our favorite place in Dublin and the one thing (ok, along with a chance to see a few more pages of the Book of Kells) that would bring me back to Dublin again. You didn’t mention how beautiful the courtyard behind the library is.

You also didn’t mention just wandering along the Liffey, which seems sort of essential.

You didn’t miss much in Temple Bar at night unless it has changed a lot – mostly younger people getting really drunk. It was my biggest disappointment in Dublin. But then, I’m not really young anymore either.

I’ll be eager to read more of your travel tales, as we are sort of Boomer Travelers too (well, I’m between a Boomer and an X, but my husband fully qualifies for Boomerdom.)

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer July 19, 2012 at 4:16 am

Thanks for your comment. Where are you off to next?

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avatar Jenny July 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm

If I did not have interest in going to Ireland before reading your blog I do now. My bucket list is growing!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer July 22, 2012 at 3:28 am

So much to see. So little time.

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avatar Tom Bartel August 4, 2013 at 9:14 am

Actually, before stepping off the kerb (as it’s spelled there,) you want to look RIGHT first and last, not left. I hope it says LOOK RIGHT on the street in front of you, and I’m sure it does unless the Irish are intentionally trying to kill you. Of course, they could be assuming most tourists are English and that could be in the back of their minds.

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avatar Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) August 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Tom, you are, of course right, although I like your English revenge theory. I’ll go back and correct that. We’re even now. Makes up for the time you told Boomeresque readers that the Philadelphia Flyers was one of the first original teams in the NHL 😉

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avatar Mike August 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

That sphere is cool. Really enjoyed the post and I was especially interested in the jail and the castle! 🙂

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avatar Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) August 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Thanks, Mike. If you want to become a travel blogger, there’s a travel blogger conference in Dublin in early October—as good an excuse as any to visit

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