The first thing you learn when hostelling is that the room will empty before you’ve even woken up. I mentioned there were four guys on the lower bunks when I went to bed on Sunday night. When I woke up on Monday, there was just me and another.
The second lesson I learned that day was that Mondays appear to be Irish Sundays. I planned to go to the National Library, National Museum, and the National Gallery because they are all situated next to each other. Except only the Gallery is open on Mondays. Everything else is closed.
When walking around the Gallery, it became clear that art is not one of my interests. I am not the connoisseur of the art world. Whatever I am meant to be seen in these paintings, drawings, and other artistic endeavors, I am not getting it.
Trinity College Dublin
I left the Gallery and headed back towards my hostel. On route, I passed Trinity College Dublin and noticing it was open and available, with plenty of other tourists heading inside, I followed. The first thing to note is that this is an active campus. In the same way, you can visit certain parts of Oxford and Cambridge in England; they still have students and faculty wandering around. The campus is beautiful, and some of the students matched it. It is the best university in the country and is on par with Oxford and Cambridge regarding the type of students it attracts. An admission of mine is that I dream of being intelligent enough both intellectually and academically to attend a university of this stature.
My parents told me to see the Book of Kell, and I wanted to see the Long Room. I paid my way into the Book of Kell exhibition and discovered the fascinating literary piece of history the Book of Kell was, but that what took my breath away. Above the exhibition is the Long Room in the Old Library.
The Long Room
The Long Room is over 300 hundred years old and is filled with over 200,000 books and fourteen marble busts of men who have influenced western civilisation from the likes of Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero to Shakespeare and Jonathan Swift. These are some of the greatest minds in history, and their busts line this fantastic library.
It honestly took my breath away. Excitement overwhelmed me. I love libraries. They are filled with my favourite things in the world: books and the older, more magnificent the library, the more excited and in love I become. The room is tall with a rounded ceiling and is 65 metres long, with two floors of books running row after row along the side. The library can be used by faculty and students, but with great sadness to me, visitors are prohibited from touching a single book. It is a look but doesn’t touch policy.
I headed down into the Trinity College shop and treated myself to a new pen and bought a book of Kell magnet for my parents.
As a lover of history and has been a student of Irish revolutionary history from the Act of Union through to the Civil War at A-Level, I went to Dublin Castle. Once the administrative headquarters of the British in Ireland, I was struck with awe when I entered the courtyard. I recalled it from the film, Michael Collins where the British handed over control to the new Irish Free State government. As I walked around the courtyard, I knew I was in a place of great historical significance, and it is a moment I will remember for a long time.
While wondering around, I spotted a door open with a long corridor stretching on until it reached what looked like a café. Starving for food I wandered down. It turns out I walked into the Irish Film Institute, which shows the best films of the moment and focuses on Irish films too. I spent my evenings here, watching a selection of excellent films. The first was Detroit. It is a retelling of the actual events that occurred during the Detroit Riots in the 1960s. It is an alarming film, and I won’t give anything away, but it astonishingly highlighted my own white privilege.
I was sickened by the events, heartbroken and angered by the crimes committed, but I am aware that I would never experience that as a white man. Maybe as a gay man, but never as a white man. It is a truly excellent film.