We are finally on our Europe trip!
First stop: Dublin.
We always have a great time in Dublin, thanks to our friends, who are more like family to us, and this time was no different. After surprising us on our arrival with a big family party we took a day to walk around Dublin city center. We have been before, but that was quite a few years ago and our daughter was too young to remember most of it, so we had to go again this time – not that any of us minded!
One of the things I really wanted to show her was the statue of Molly Malone. We knew she had recently been moved from the bottom of Grafton Street to the outside of the Tourist Information Office on Suffolk Street. So we made our way down to Suffolk Street only to be told that Molly had gone away for restoration and wouldn’t be back for a few days. So as we were lacking Molly Malone for a photo this time around I have resorted to one we took back in October 2005.
The ballad of Molly Malone (also known as “Cockles and mussels”) is regarded as a traditional Irish song, but its origins are not established. The composer of this piece is unknown, as is the period this song is meant to depict. According to the song, Molly Malone was an attractive young woman from a fish monger background, selling seafood by wheeling a barrow through the streets of Dublin. The legend tells that she died of a fever and now her ghost haunts the streets of the city. The Molly Malone statue, also locally known as “the tart with the cart”, was unveiled in 1988 as part of the millennium celebrations of the founding of Dublin. Her creator, Jean Rynhart, faced criticism with his interpretation of Molly Malone, having styled her as a scantily clad 17th century barrow trader, alluding to Molly’s other trade, prostitution.
One of my favourite landmarks in Dublin is the Half Penny Bridge, or as locals call it “Ha” Penny” Bridge. This bridge opened in 1816 to offer passage via its timber gangway for the cost of half a penny. Prior to this bridge opening, Dubliners would have to use a ferry across the river for the same price. William Walsh, ferry owner and alderman, was put out of business by this bridge and he was granted compensation of GBP3,000 and the bridge lease for 100 years (quite a good deal I think). The bridges over the river Liffey was the only pedestrian bridge for 184 years, until in 19999 the Millennium Bridge opened. It has had a number of different names during its time: Wellington, Metal, Triangle or Iron Bridge. Despite the fact that the bridge’s official name these days is Liffey Bridge; it is still called and known as the Ha’ Penny Bridge. The bridge has a 43 meter span, is 3 meters wide and rises 3 meters above the river. The bridge was extensively refurbished in 2001, retaining 85% of the original railwork, and is sporting once again the original off white colour. When it first opened 450 people would make their way across it daily, compared to a 30,000 average of today.
The other absolute must visit place is Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO). This post office is best known as being the site of the Easter Rising in 1916 and still remains a potent symbol of Irish independence. The building was designed by Francis Johnson in 1818 and was almost destroyed by a fire during the uprising. After just having been restored it faced some further damage six years later during the civil war. You can still see the bullet holes in the walls and columns on the front of the building. Inside, a series of paintings depicts moments from the Easter Rising.
There are so many more great places to go and see in Dublin, but these are my favourite ones that I go back time and time again to see (and thank you to our friends who come along without so much as a groan!).