Dublin last day
Saturday May 22, 2010
Wednesday I had my whole day planned out to the tee and was so excited to get moving, alas the way traveling tends to go my plan was completely foiled. However I had a lot of fun regardless. I started the day about 7am and was dressed and organized for a day out at the hill of Tara and Newgrange not far from here. Tara is a giant burial mound dating back thousands of years and Newgrange is a tomb built based around sun and planetary movements. Though when checking my e-mail to make sure on my booking I had a message from the tour company that they were full and the next tour would be Thursday. Of course I was a bit disappointed and after I looked into taking another bus out there I was even more but I decided to make the best of my day regardless. So, I decided why not head in the direction of Pheonix park and the Guinness store house and make a decision on the way.
After walking about half an hour, and just as I was about to the park I noticed the design museum of Ireland. A free museum as many of them are in Dublin and I thought why not give is a shot for an hour or two? This proved to be a very good and happy making decision for not only did the museum have beautiful displays on pottery, furniture, and miscellaneous pieces from the world it had a huge section on clothing of Ireland from the 18th century to the 1970’s! So I was ecstatic to learn of this and simply had to go see it. There was also a great display on Irish soldiers from the 1550’s to the modern world. The museum was actually stationed in the old barracks of Dublin that even holds ceremonies from time to time.
I started with the information on the Irish soldier, including original pieces, uniforms, hats, paintings, the list simply goes on and on. They also had very well done mannequins showing the poverty many of the soldiers lived in and just how little they had to fight with or protect themselves, many didn’t even have shoes! Another great piece that I found interesting; probably due to the 15+ years I’ve been going to reenactments for; was the section on Irish that fought in the American Civil War. The described both those that fought for the Union and the Confederacy in very good detail for the space and access to materials. Essentially it boiled down to those that fought for the Confederacy had many ideas that the Union was acting much as England had in the past in order to control everything. Then for the union it was generally a pride in their new country and the potential to make a living and have food three times a day. I also appreciated that they talked on the massive amount of Irish that left to fight in foreign armies in a hope to eventually defeat England. So many fought in say France for instance under Marie Antoinette’s mother (forgive me for forgetting her name) the Empress of Austria.
After the snippets on sort of the rebellious Irish it went more into those that were British and in the military and then stationed in Ireland and those Irish that joined the British military. Ultimately it ended in modern conflicts and problems around the world and sort of led you into a room on the 1916 Easter Rising. Which was also intriguing though hard to fully wrap your mind around what all was happening and I must admit my modern Irish history is quite poor. It did however spark me into wanting to read more on the conflict. I did pick up it was a very bold move on those that began the fight, for they were far outnumbered and they did it when they did because the British military was weakened due to the first world war.
After the war exhibits I got a quick bite to eat at the museum cafe, I regretted getting the salmon concoction, after cold salmon baguette’s in France I’m afraid it may be a long while before I enjoy salmon again.
I then was off to what I most desired to see and that was the costume/clothing exhibit called “What We Wore”. It started with a beautiful example of a late 19th century dress, and a mirror next to it for your consideration on how fashion has changed so very much. Of course in my instance next to me was a dress with roughly 3-4 layers of fabric for skirts and chemise and a top that would have consisted of about 3 layers; for me it was simply underwear, jeans and a t-shirt with shoes and a coat and scarf if needed. It’s simply fascinating how much in only a little over one hundred years it has all in fact changed. When for centuries before it was a slow movement with the general ideas on layering and practicality staying the same.
After this comparison it started with the earliest examples they had available going back to the 18th century. They of course really only had the upper classes clothing due to those in the middle and lowest classes wore their clothes out and they were not kept by anyone and simply thrown out. So there were these magnificent ball gowns, corsets, stockings and other bits and pieces. It flowed really well into the 1800’s where they showed a slightly wider variety for the fashions began to change a lot more rapidly at this time. They also had examples of children clothing and a wider variety on classes due to the middle classes being able to afford to be in fashion because of a wider mass production of items. I also really appreciated the interactive guide on fabric making in Ireland over the centuries from wool to linen to silk and others in between. Ultimately the exhibit wrapped up with 20th century clothing and fine examples of evening gowns and other odds and ends. Some wedding dresses were shown which came from 19th century ideas and the Victorian era all were well tailored and so beautiful. I truly enjoyed this exhibit so much and very much look forward to the Victoria and Albert in London with even more costumes and pieces!
While I was wondering the clothing exhibit I remembered of this shop my guide book mentioned that sold vintage clothing dating back to the 1870’s! So I decided instead of the park and potentially zoo let’s go give this a shot! Another 15 minute walk brought me to it and boy was I happy scrounging around! They had some of the most beautiful Edwardian blouses there and my only complaint is that I could have afforded one but had not guarantee of getting it home without being ruined so I refrained. I just hope to one day get to go back and buy a piece. Being that these pieces are so rare and unique the prices were not that unreasonable. There was even some old ladies shoes made of fine leather and embroidered that were obviously Victorian for only 200 euros. I guess that it is now another place I will have to return to one day and be able to stock upon antique clothes goodies.
After this I meandered around in a few other thrift stores that were in the general vicinity of that area. The area I had found was a great off the beaten tourist path shopping center and I would say about 95% of those shopping were in fact locals. This was truly a great rest from the tourist heavy bits of the rest of Dublin I had been consumed with and it was just fun to wander until deciding to go back to the hostel.
At the hostel this night I took it easy, eating dinner and getting organized to leave the next morning, such as booking a cab to the ferry dock. I met an interesting couple from California that were a few years older than myself who had been in school in Spain and were now doing side trips other places, we all discussed our mutual love for history and Edinburgh. For me it’s always really really comforting to see people who have been at this just a bit longer than I have and what all they have experienced and that they still have the passion. I at time think I’m completely stupid to be wasting my time and money doing all of this but at the end of the day I realize what I’m doing is educational. It is truly like going to university but only in a different form and manor. I am learning and experiencing things that most only dream about and now is the time to be doing it! I can’t think of another time when I won’t be this free to do as I please and drop out of the world I live in for a while. To become a different part of existence and to inspire others to try and do the same. Of course it gets tiring and there are days that are completely horrible and you simply want to call it quits and go home. Then something new or interesting will catch my eye and I want to throw myself back into the mix of it and never leave.
What I was going with with the couple that was traveling is that they are in ways a lot like me, and they love every minute and are having the time of their lives! I have met some “Ugly Americans” and even met some in Dublin (got to love frat boys) but there are those that I absolutely adore and click with from all over the planet. I think one of the most rewarding things about traveling is the people I have in fact met and the way they inspire and challenge me. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend two months at 19 and I hope beyond hope that I get to return sooner rather than later. I think once you have caught the travel bug like many nasty diseases it keeps acting up for many years to come.
The barracks/design and textile museum