Dublin Castle and Chester Beatty

None of my guest have been able to get into Dublin Castle, although I had the chance to see it last September, on Culture Night.  I’ve finally figured out why it’s closed to tourists.  This year Ireland is the president of the EU.   The Castle is being used for all sorts of formal ceremonial event.  Therefore, it’s closed to the public until June 30.

A tourist to Dublin will find the best view of the castle from the mort side, looking south from the garden in the front of the Chester Beatty Library.

The Chester Beatty is still open and offers one of the most fascinating places to visit in Dublin.  To access it, you have to go around the west wall of the castle and through the side gate.

Patty, Kitty Lee, and I visited the Chester Beatty Library and saw fragments of the Bible that date back to 150 AD.  These are some of the oldest pieces of the document in existence in the world. While at the Beatty Library, we also saw a temporary exhibition of paintings including one that Patty has always admired, The Gleaners.  It was painted by Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton in 1854.  It’s from the period when artists were trying to record the daily life of laborers and the hard reality they faced in the mid-1800s. We could have spent much longer in the exhibits as we had very little time in the non-Christian collections on this particular visit.

The Library’s website explains:

Described by the Lonely Planet as not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe, the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin is an art museum and library which houses the great collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). Its rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe opens a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. Chester Beatty Library was named Irish Museum of the year in 2000 and was awarded the title European Museum of the Year in 2002.

Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur’an, the Bible, European medieval and renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights of the collection. In its diversity, the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 BC to the present day.

Admission to the Chester Beatty Library is free!

St. Patrick’s Day, Academic Style!

What a phenomenally Irish weekend!

I didn’t do the things a tourist to Dublin normally does on St. Patrick’s Day (which seems to include a lot of roaming the streets while intoxicated).  Instead, I packed my schedule full of St. Patrick’s Day Festival events.  My friends an I pooled out ticket allotment so we could see many shows.

I’ve pictured some of the events below (I didn’t even take photos at every event, believe it or not).  The photos show how academics enjoy St. Paddy’s!  You can see my brainy friends and me enjoying short films in the Examination Hall of Trinity, for instance.

The group that coordinates the St. Patrick’s Day Festival did a fabulous job!  I send my heartfelt thanks to them!

Incidentally, you’d be amazed to see the streets of Temple Bar on Sunday night:  wall to wall people dressed in green velvet!?!!  I elbowed my way through at 7 PM  (I don’t even want to think what the place was like by midnight).  Even at 7, I was clutching my belongings so tight that I forgot to take a photo!

Brushes with Great Museums

Meeting with Brian Bowe and Gavin Duffy at the Beatty Library’s cafe.

The cafe at the Chester Beatty Library serves up a fine selection of Middle Eastern, North African, Mediterranean, and vegetarian entrees and gluten-free desserts.  We met there for lunch Tuesday since it’s halfway between Gavin’s base on Kevin Street and ours on Bolton Street.

Mom and her neighbors (Tim and Mary) spoke highly of this “Silk Road Cafe.”  The Dean had heard its praises sung as well.  Unfortunately, he was called to a more urgent meeting and couldn’t join us after all.

The Beatty Library’s sun-filled, glass-covered courtyard was a lovely setting for our discussion of student-centered learning, research, and publication strategy.

Shockingly, neither of my colleague had ever been to this incredible museum before!  Yet it houses one of the world’s most astounding collections of religious artifacts.  It represents all the world’s major religions and was donated by the American collector Chester Beatty.  And, amazingly, admission is completely free! (Lunch, however, is not.)

Although I didn’t get Gavin and Brian into the actual exhibit halls, at least they got to experience the covered courtyard and the stunning “Castle garden.” It’s surrounded by a high wall and feels very much like a secret garden. During my childhood, I dearly loved the book The Secret Garden.

Castel Garden, behind Dublin Castle. (Photo borrowed from W&L travel log.)

A few hours after our lunch, I had another brush with great museums when Seán Rainbird lectured at the DIT School of Architecture.  He’s the new director of the National Gallery of Ireland. He has also worked at the Tate in London and the Stattsgallerie in Stuttgart (designed by James Stirling’s office).

Seán Rainbird talked about Joseph Beuys’ fascination with all things Celtic when he spoke at the DIT School of Architecture.

Can you imaging that I delivered a lecture in the same “Schools of Thought” lecture series with such an accomplished person?  Wow!

Seán talked about Joseph Beuys and the Celtic World, the topic of a book he wrote.  He said he had just three weeks to write it!  Can you imagine being so knowledgeable about a topic that you could produce a press-worthy document in just three weeks?  Truly amazing.

They say everyone wants to “be like Mike.”  I’d rather “be like Seán” myself!