A grave subject

Before we get into the blog, I’d first like to give a shout-out to me mum on this Mother’s Day (even though they celebrate it on a different day in Ireland), because without her, you couldn’t be reading this blog, because I’d have never been born.

Speaking of not existing, our first stop today was to the Glasnevin Cemetery, which first opened for customers in 1832. It contains some of the most famous Irish people ever, most of whom Americans don’t know because, well, most Americans barely know their own famous dead people.

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A movie we’ll want to see now that we’ve been there.

Glasnevin is the final resting place to a whopping 1.5 million people, almost three times the current population of Dublin, and 1.49 million more than the hairs on Donald Trump’s head.

As you walk into the place, you’re a bit blown away by the huge monuments and the enormity of the place. It covers about 124 acres.

You’d think that visiting a cemetery wouldn’t be very high on most visitors’ must-see list, but it’s truly a spectacle, and was recommended to us by two different Irish folk, and we’re glad they did.

Carolyn in front of the entrance, and another view of the big tower. The tower was nice to have because no matter where you walked on the grounds, you could always see where the entrance was.

Also, the picture on the left is notable for two things: The first is proof that there really can be blue skies in Ireland. No, this wasn’t photoshopped. So far we’ve seen rain, hard rain, light rain, really hard rain, hail, more hail, snow, wind, and today, 70 degrees and sunshine followed by rain and thunder. When they say Ireland’s weather is unpredictable, they really mean it. The second thing the picture proves is that Carolyn really does wear different outfits under her coat. She’s starting to feel a little self-conscious about always looking the same in this weather!

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The high wall with watch-towers surrounding the main part of the cemetery were put there as a defense for all the people dying to get in.

Seriously, though, it was actually built to deter bodysnatchers, who were active in Dublin in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The watchmen also had a pack of bloodhounds who roamed the cemetery at night. I’m not sure where they buried the dogs.

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As mentioned in a previous blog, Irish law prevents the government from messing with gravestones. Despite that, the above was the exception to the rule; generally the stones and monuments are in very good shape.

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I’m not sure how they got all these guys into one grave, but note on the bottom it says “also served prison sentences.” This may be the Irish’s way of saying these guys are headed straight down so just throw ’em in the hole and they can go to hell.

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It’s obvious that some families spend more money in the graveyard than others, but these guys really take the cake. I mean, c’mon, they’re only burying a hand? How cheap can you get?

One style of memorial, presumably for family gatherings, is to have a door in the ground. Behind the doors are either rows of urns or caskets, or maybe they’re just family storage sheds, I dunno. One thing’s for sure, it’ll take a skeleton key to open ’em. Har har.

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I’m not sure a picture can really capture the extensiveness of all of these graves. But once you’re inside, there are simply tombstones everywhere you look. I daresay I’ve seen more tombstones on this trip than when I delivered Tombstone Pizzas for a living. Which I never did, but it woulda been true had I done that.

The saddest part was this section, called the “Angel’s Plot,” which is where stillborn babies are buried in consecrated ground. Glasnevin is one of the few cemeteries that allows that. The graves are covered with dolls and toys.

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And here are the rest of the pictures of the cemetery.

From there we drove further into Dublin in order to see the Kilmainham Gaol (which is Irish for “jail”). Many Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, were imprisoned and executed in the prison by the British. It’s now a popular museum and on most tourist lists as something you should do.

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Unfortunately, this was the sign that greeted us. Doh! I guess it pays to read up on these tourist sites a little closer. Apparently you want to book a tour online beforehand.

But hey, we got a couple pictures outside the place.

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And this is the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art just across the street, which we also didn’t go into. But it’s a pretty cool entrance.

If it’s one thing we’re both all about, it’s being flexible and adjusting to things on the fly. That’s one benefit of being in one place for a long time… you’re not pressed for time and if one door shuts you just go through another one (or take a picture of it). And so, even though the Guinness Tour was lower on our list because it’s so touristy and doesn’t involve a castle or graveyard, we decided to hike the mile over to the Guinness Tour and do that.

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We could hardly contain our excitement. The truth was, it’s not a bad place to visit, but we both felt that the 20 euro admission was a bit overpriced. Sure, you get a “free” pint, but they run you through the store full of their labeled souvenirs twice, and the rest of it is like one big advertisement. It’s polished and well-presented, but not really worth 20 euros each.

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The Guinness harp is on display. Surprisingly, there was nothing about the Guinness Book of World Records there at all. It wasn’t until this visit that it dawned on us that the two organizations are related. Should have been pretty easy for them to make their own beer world records!

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You have to take a steam bath of your face before they’ll allow you to sample one of their beers. No, actually, this is a place to sniff some of the flavors from the beer, like hops and so on.

One floor is dedicated to their advertising, which apparently included a fish on a bicycle and a whistling oyster. Which made me wonder if it’s really hops they were experimenting with when making up these ads.

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They said “butt!”

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They had an impressive video room where they played some of their best ads, some of which were quite entertaining. A deep bass sound like thunder might give some people seizures, it was so loud and bass-y. I thought I was watching The Towering Inferno in a theatre again. That last line just went over the heads of almost everybody younger than me.

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I just could help but snap a picture of these three young gals all standing in line, all nose-deep into their smartphones.

We were taken in small groups to a tap, where we were all given lessons on how to pour the perfect Guinness. I kept pretending to screw mine up and would chug the glass and insist on pouring another. After the fourth time doing that, the guide finally caught on and kicked me out of the line.

Despite that, we both got a diploma, which makes me think that it’s not much of an accomplishment, since I’m pretty sure everyone gets one.

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Here was our group shot. Apparently we were “The best group ever!!” I’m a little surprised the girls on the right had enough time to look up from their cell phones to have their picture taken.

Afterwards, we took our glasses up to the top floor, where you’re treated to a terrific view of all of Dublin.

 

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Very cool taps up on that floor. By the way, we must’ve been told a dozen times before we went on this trip that in Ireland the Guinness is different, and that it’s served warm. Wrong. It tastes the same, and it’s served chilled.

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And the slideshow of the rest of the pix.

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On the walk back to the car, we discovered that my last parking job wasn’t so hot, and they had barricaded us in. So we hacked our way through the back, snuck into the car, started ‘er up as quick as we could and then crashed through the barrier like we were in Fast and Furious 18.

Actually, we saw this vehicle in the front yard of one of the houses. Generally, the area around the place didn’t look like the best of all areas. In fact, as we were walking to the tour, we saw a group of ladies sitting on the sidewalk minding their own business, and a car drove by and an idiot inside threw a half full cup of soda at them just for kicks. I guess teenage boys all over the world are brain damaged.

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And of course, no visit to Ireland is complete unless you order up one of their famous Irish pizzas. On the back window is the menu. There’s nothing like Irish pizza, let me tell you!

 

 

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