Hello, folks! It seems I have an overwhelming number of stories and photos to share with you this week. Dublin has been very busy; yesterday, June sixteenth, was Bloomsday, a day dedicated to celebrating and retracing the steps of Leopold Bloom. For those who don't know, Leopold Bloom is one of three central characters in the modern epic Ulysses, written by Irishman James Joyce. The book covers one day within the limits of Dublin, and the date it takes place on actually is June sixteenth.
On Bloomsday, the city is full of citizens reading, drinking, and exploring old haunts of both Joyce and his characters. You can enter come of the places mentioned within the book, and find the locations where everything else used to stand. The people are friendly and excitable, and some even dress up in a costume appropriate for the time period of Ulysses. My literature class, of course, took advantage of this opportunity to learn about Irish culture, but not before my history class took a trip to Dublin Castle!
The castle has been a large part of Dublin's history, witness to hundreds of judicial and political movements as well as rebellions. The castle is adorned with statues of both Fortitude and Justice, and they even have stories to go with them: Justice, who wears no blindfold and faces in toward the castle, is not blind, and originally her scales moved in the wind! Locals used to say that this was symbolic of the corruption that took place within the castle walls.
The castle is beautiful and ornate inside, with skylights and beautiful chandeliers in every room. The rugs on the floors are full of symbols like the coats of arms for various political figures and insignia for both the Irish and British governments.
There is even a long promenade hall, built specifically to provide excercise for lords and ladies when Dublin's weather wasn't cooperating and they couldn't go outside. The hall is decorated with gold pieces in the ceiling and lined with artifacts of all varieties.
There are several drawing rooms, each one different from the others; many were required in order to keep castle guests from interacting with someone from a different social class. The Viceroy or ruling power would be free to move from one drawing room to the next in order to meet with everyone, but most guests had their own assigned area and were not to deviate from it.
The lords and ladies were separated, as well; while men would use the drawing rooms to play cards or smoke cigars, women would be located elsewhere for tea and gossip. This was seen as the more civilized way to divide up guests, and in fact it might have been improper to operate the castle in any other way.
There is also a large portrait gallery, containing a painting of all the men who served as Viceroy or the head of Ireland at any time. There are even some paintings of British nobility, such as Queen Victoria and her husband.
The ballroom had to be remodeled more recently than other parts of the castle, although it is still similar to its original composition. The room isn't used for balls or dances anymore, but primarily serves as part of the museum like much of the castle. Within it are more historical artifacts and even murals on the ceiling depicting historic events.
The chandeliers within the castle are absolutely beautiful. They were commissioned from a single man, to be made from real crystal. As a result, they're quite large and heavy. They are all fully functional, and can be found throughout most of the museum portion of the castle.
The final piece of Dublin Castle that we were able to visit was the courtyard out behind. The courtyard and attached unit were put in place for Queen Victoria's visit, as the Irish nobility didn't want her to look out her window and find the starving or impoverished countrymen demanding attention. The view of a courtyard and stately architecture was thought to be a much better view.
After stopping for lunch at the amazing Queen of Tarts restaurant, my professor, two friends, and I made our way to a series of readings from Ulysses. There, people read and recited passages from the novel, as well as sang songs that Joyce had included within it. Several were dressed up for the occasion.
There was a large crowd attending the readings, most holding their own copies of the book and following along. Some had their pieces memorized, and others were reading it for the first time. Included among them was a man known to be a wonderful James Joyce impersonator!
Afterwards, my class made its way to a play entitled "Joyced!" that would walk us through a quick and lively narration of Joyce's early life. It was a phenomenal one-woman act, complete with singing and several different characters all "on stage" at one time. Following that, we made our way to one of the pubs mentioned in Ulysses to watch the conclusion of the day's festivities.
Within a few minutes, we were approached by a group of lecturers from a university, intent on discussing Joyce and his works with us.
They even insisted on borrowing my camera to take a photo of us outside of the Davy Byrnes pub, to record our own participation in Bloomsday; unfortunately, the focus wasn't turned on, and the photo came out a little blurry:
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<p>Hi! My name is Taylor Haggerty. I'm twenty years old and currently go to school in Bloomington, Indiana, for magazine design and poetry. This summer I'll be studying English and history in Dublin, Ireland!</p>