Going Medieval: Dublin

Follow Constance Perry ’15 as she travels with her classmates to the Highlands to explore Scotland and Ireland for a field study during spring break.

This spring break, Rollins College is taking Scotland and Ireland by storm. Directed by our professors Emily Russell and Jana Mathews, 12 students—including myself—flew out from Orlando to explore Ireland and Scotland in a seven-day trip. This trip is a complement to two existing course studies, Going Medieval and Americana, which explore everything from American tourism to the Medieval ages.

I'm currently typing this from Dublin, Ireland, cozied up in The Temple Bar Inn. Sandwiched between the main bar strip and Trinity College, The Temple Bar Inn has acted as a home to our group during our time in Dublin.

Our group arrived in Ireland at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning. Fueled by donuts and coffee, we went directly to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript dating back to 800 A.D. that contains all four Gospels.

Above the Book of Kells exhibit is Trinity College Library. Built in the 18th century, this library has oak shelves lined with books and manuscripts that span hundreds of years. Some parts of the library's collection are so valuable that they're  treated as museum displays, roped off from the wandering hands of the public. These books remain part of history simply through exhibition.

We also visited Ireland's Natural History Museum and examined its 10,000 exhibits of taxidermied creatures both large and small. The collection and displays have remained close to what people in the Victorian era would have seen themselves when the museum was first opened.  

On Tuesday, we went to the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness has been a part of Ireland as much as Ireland has been a part of Guinness. In fact, when Ireland sought to make the harp the symbol of their nation, Guinness had already used it. Now the official national emblem of Ireland is a similar harp symbol displayed in the opposite direction.

In a more sobering tour, we also went to Kilmainham Gaol, a historic prison and major landmark. It felt eerie creeping through a building so firmly rooted in the past. Because we were late for our tour, our guide allowed us to see a hanging room—a single cell with a lever and a trap door. Maybe the guide's behind-the scenes look was a passive aggressive statement about us being a little late, but we were happy for the opportunity nonetheless. We continued to traipse through the prision hallways looking into cells that are still littered with the former prisoners’ personal items.

And perhaps best of all, we got to see snow. Prancing around like 5 year olds, we were quickly dismissed by the local Irish people who must have thought we were crazy.

Tomorrow we fly to Edinburgh, Scotland, to begin the second part of our trip. Keep checking Rollins360 to hear more updates from me as our group travels to the Highlands.