Like Molly Malone, Marc and I wandered the Dublin streets broad and narrow pretty extensively.  The city center is not large, so we managed all of our touring on foot.  Our first day left us particularly sore-footed with our multiple walking tours.  We toured Trinity College and learned from our student guide that Trinity shares a characteristic with the University of Virginia – they are the only two schools that make living on the historic campus a privilege for exceptional seniors.

Trinity is the home of a stunningly beautiful, if a bit small, illuminated manuscript, a copy of the gospels created by Scottish and Irish monks during Ireland’s golden age during the first millennium, the age of saints and scholars.  The book’s provenance is mysterious, and its history includes its being stolen by Vikings and abandoned in a field where it was later found “under a sod.”

We queued up to see the book behind its glass case.  Sadly, the systematic control of the hordes broke down at the door, and the glass case was in the middle of a small, darkish room, so it required some elbow dexterity to see the book.  The build up to the Book of Kells meant with certainty that actually seeing it had to be a letdown.

As little as it was, and as poorly lit and crowded with tourists as it was,  it is an object of nearly unbelievable intricacy and tiny delicacy.  I was happy to have seen it.  How incredible to look at something made so long ago that, with its winding strands of brightly colored decoration, aligns perfectly with modern taste.  That perfect workmanship, its graceful endless knotting, does not get old, and like other mysteries of Ireland, occupies the mind with wonder.  What are these woven knots — seen in illustration, knitting, decorative arts, in music, in textiles, and in literature?  What does it mean?  It make a nice metaphor, though, for so many things.  Think about it.  Let your eye follow a knot and contemplate its beginning, its turns, and its ends.

Our trip is coming to its tail end, or mine is anyway.  A few other Dublin highlights were our historical walking tour, a visit to learn about Guinness and how to pour the perfect pint, an Oscar Wilde play, A Woman of No Importance a tthe Gate Theater, and a literary pub crawl where we were treated to performances of scenes from Waiting for Godot and other Irish literature.

We at some terrific meals in Dublin, too, most memorably at The Church on our last night.  This 18th century church was turned into a restaurant several years ago — a gorgeous galleried church with stained glass windows and an organ and a history of preachers and congregants including John Wesley, Jonathan Swift, and Handel.  Now it has a nightclub, a cafe, fine dining, and a huge bar where the pews once stood. Perhaps this is the best idea yet for combatting dwindling church attendance:  situate a well-stocked bar in the nave.