Saturday, June 20, 2015

National Museum of Ireland

After St. Stephen’s Green we followed the signs to the National Museum of Ireland. There are excellent tourist information signs indicating the distance and direction of various important locations throughout the city.  Getting about Dublin is far easier than getting about Richmond Vancouver where the locals are ignorant of international conventions regarding signage.
The National Museum of Ireland is a veritable treasure.  The building itself was architecturally stunning.  I asked the attendant, “Where do we pay for admission?”  He answered, “It would be a cold day in hell if Ireland began to charge visitors to see their national treasures.  All Irish and visitors to Ireland are welcome here. There’s no charge and we’re proud of that.”  He was indeed impressive as he delivered this bit of oratorio.
I’ve been to museums about the world. While this was a very small one by comparison to those conquering countries which have amassed their neighbours finest, this is one of the sweetest museums I’ve ever walked through.  Laura and I enjoyed it immensely.  The Celtic archeology was most informative.  I loved the gold jewelry of pre Christian times reminiscent of the finest gold pieces from Argamenon displayed in Athens.  The huge dug out canoes of the Irish would make the Haida envious.  The depiction of the swords of Brian Boru era and the history of this time was a delightful romp through Irish mythology.  The medieval Christian carvings and Bishops crosiers and Bible shrines of Medieval times were particularly beautiful.  There was even some Egyptology which didn’t quite fit my knowledge of Irish history but was enjoyable to view nonetheless. I most enjoyed the retrieved bodies of the bog men, perhaps because I viewed them standing next to an 8 year old boy who will forever thank his parents for taking him to Ireland. The writing about this poor bogyman’s torso said that he’d not only been decapitated but had been stabbed and had his nipples removed before being dumped in the bog.  “You’ve got to see this. It’s so neat.” I heard my little friend telling what I assumed was a younger brother moments later.
I hate to be insensitive but I couldn’t help but think that other people are more entrepreneurial than Canadians.  In Germany and Poland the tourists flock to the gas chambers to take selfies.  In St. Petersburg I confess I wandered about the infamous jails where writers had been tortured.  Our Vancouver Opera is happy enough to put on Sweeny Todd a show about a cannibalistic barber. Yet we have a gold mine in the Picton Farm and while it’s terribly macabre a portion of the entrance fees could go to the famiies of the missing young people who were no doubt fed to the pigs.  There’s definitely no accounting for taste but I must confess, that despite my days and nights in morgues, I will probably remember the bog man long after I’ve forgotten all about the beautiful Tara Brooch.  I know the little 8 year old boy will be telling all his school friends that Dublin’s museum is the greatest in the world. And he won’t be thinking about the Ardagh Chalice or the Loughnashade War Trumpet no matter how much Laura and I enjoyed seeing those.
I’m really enjoying seeing all the different Celtic Crosses.  The Cross of Cong is famous.  Yet each individual cross has local variations and peculiarities that are quite fascinating.  We must have been there a couple of hours before we moved on to the gift shop. The gift shop had exquisite gifts and proceeds went to the museum so it wasn’t really like we were ‘consuming’ more like donating to art.  I bought Laura a silver and gold bracelet fashioned in designs similar though more refined than exhibits we’d seen of the Celtic warrior era.  I personally bought another rag hat and some celtic cross fridge magnets.
I was thankful that they allowed photography, without flash, through most of the exhibits.  All round one of my most enjoyable museum experiences.   “I loved it!” Laura said as we walked out of the past into the present of Dublin, Ireland
DSCN4821DSCN4822DSCN4823DSCN4829Ardagh ChaliceDSCN4826Cross of Cong 1DSCN4836123DSCN4825DSCN4832 Bell of St. Francis
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