January 8, 2004
Today was a very eventful touring day. Our sites of interest included Trinity College, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Guinness storehouse. At Trinity College I was able to gaze upon some of the most magnificent remnants of the monastic period in Ireland that still exist. I am referring to the pages of the Book of Kells. I was stunned at just how ornate the pictures and manuscripts were. The process it took to put together a text like this was very meticulous and time consuming. The effort and time spent on such a task exemplifies the love for texts and their preservation that Irish have. This can still be seen today in Trinity's enormous eight-library collection of books. My favorite part of the tour at
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Trinity was the Long Room. It's a library filled with old manuscripts and busts of great thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Shakespeare line the walls. It was a magnificent display.
To me the most impressive site that we visited today was St. Patrick's Cathedral. The church itself and the stained-glass windows were breathtaking, but the sculptures were truly amazing. Our guide explained the history behind the church and how King Henry VIII had taken it away from the Catholics and given it to the Protestants. At this point she took the time to explain that the Catholics and the Protestants in Southern Ireland had reached a kind of harmony that she wished Northern Ireland could come to.
Our guide also explained to us her position on the new Euro currency. She said she was not happy with the new currency. The only Irish symbol that is on it is the harp, and she didn't feel it was personal enough. (Another speck of Irish nationalism). We were also privileged to see a protest at Dublin Castle. Men were gathered outside the castle with pikes and signs that urged the EU to recognize Irish as an official language.