Today was an interesting day. Today we would move past the Celts and the Vikings and the early monks to the Irish and their struggles for freedom. The Easter Uprising of 1916 was the beginning. A small group of men…poets and dreamers, fighting against the mighty British Empire. And while their fight was not successful, their sacrifice inspired a Nation, and in the end, led to victory. It is a story I have loved for many years. It is a story that took place in Dublin, and I was determined to bear witness, if you will, to the events.
The first stop was the General Post Ofice.
This is where the rebels took their stand. They read out a proclamation of freedom, declaring that Ireland belonged to the Irish, free from foreign governments. A battle ensued for five days. The British fired on the post office. The bullet holes are still there.
Kilmainham Gaol closed many years ago and is now a museum. Guided tours tell its story. While there are many interesting stories about the gaol, I was mostly interested in the rebels of 1916. The interesting fact is that the Irish people were not completely supportive of the rebels. Had the British handled things differently who knows what would have happened. But for whatever reason, they decided to execute them…by firing squad. Many songs have been written about how, due to his injuries, they had to tie James Connelly to a chair in order to execute him. Joseph Plunkett was allowed to marry his fiancé just hours before he was killed. The stories got out….and the Irish were outraged….and support for the rebels grew. And Ireland, eventually, did gain her freedom…but for six counties.
After this, I must confess, the Guinness Brewery, our other stop of the day, was somewhat unimpressive.
The Guinness Storehouse is a huge building. The tour lists ingredients used and describes the brewing process. There are samples and a pint at the end of the tour. The story of how Arthur Guinness decided to stop brewing ale and brew only stout or porter is interesting. The gravity bar at the top with a panoramic view of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains is stunning. All true. But is this really a “must see” as described in tour books? I am not convinced. A pub is a better place for a pint. At least for me.
Tomorrow we are taking a day tour to the Giant’s Causeway. It is a long day but it should be great. It will be good to get out into the country for a bit and to see the coast.