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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Two churches and a castle Dublin, Ireland, Tuesday, 28 July 2015 5:31am

Today tended toward the macabre. Our first stop was St Michan's church, which dates back to viking times. The highlight of the visit was the tour of the crypts. A combination of constant temperature, dry earth, and methane seeping up from the ground has kept things kept down there in remarkably good condition. Wooden caskets which are centuries old look essentially new. Over the years, some of the caskets have decayed enough to break open, and there are four bodies that can be seen on the crypt tour, including one that is thought to be 650 years old.

Our second stop was to the Christchurch Cathedral, where we heard about the history of the church (which is closely tied to the history of the country), and visited much more spacious crypts. The crypt galleries here held more treasures (like a set of gold communion plate donated to the church and an early copy of the Magna Carta) and only an empty sarcophagus, but there's a mummified rat and a mummified cat who'd gotten trapped in one of the organ pipes decades ago.

Finally, we took a tour of Dublin Castle, which is now much more palace/government building than Castle. We got to see the remains of part of the medieval castle and where it joined the city wall and heard about the many skulls they found while excavating it. It seems that putting traitors' heads on pikes was a common occurrence during English rule. The skulls are stored offsite, we were told.

Comments

(Anonymously) Thursday, 30 July 2015 2:00pm

I forgot to mention re. your last post: I vaguely recall that Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of my favorite poets, was sent for a time by the Jesuits to Dublin. Not sure if he taught at Trinity College or University College. He was generally miserable there.

Your last para re. heads on pikes reminded me of Macbeth's head at the end of the eponymous play when Malcolm proclaims, "Time is set free!" — in Scotland...

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