Most people go to Dublin for the pubs, the music, the people-watching, the bookstores, the strolls along the Liffey, the buskers, the great cathedrals, the history, the grand literary tradition, the lovely accents, all that green.
We went for those reasons, too. But we also went for the quirky, nerdy museums that only a certain kind of bookish introvert could love. Such as, ahem, us.
This is right around the corner from St. Patrick's, down a stone staircase, across a rainy courtyard, through an ivy-twined arch, up a steep staircase.
It's a wonderful old library, long and narrow, with ancient books and a crisp, dry smell of old leather and brittle paper. The oldest public library in Ireland, though now more museum than usable library. (You can still look at books there, but you have to make your request in advance, and have a good reason. The books are ancient, valuable, and falling apart.)
If you turn right at the end of the long narrow room--the only way you can turn--you get to the cages. A hundred years ago--two hundred years ago, or three hundred--if people requested small books, easily concealed about one's person, they were locked in a cage while they did their research.
Even though we had been happily taking flash-less pictures for a half-hour, we were suddenly told no photographs (and the quiet, pleasant librarian pointed to a tattered yellowed "no cameras" poster that had been hung in an obscure out of the way corner), so we didn't photograph the cages. But here is a picture from google:
It was a beautiful place, with domed ceilings to let in natural light (which of course is causing the old books to fall apart) and that rich bookish hush of old-fashioned libraries. I would not have minded being locked in there, not one bit, though I might have chosen a cage that lacked a skull.
A marvelous collection of ancient manuscripts--vellum, papyrus, illuminated manuscripts of the Quran and the Bible--and ancient handbound books with hand-tooled leather covers and glorious end sheets and hand-set texts.
As I walked past the glass display cases of these beautiful artifacts from around the world, my mind kept saying one word: Kindle.
The museum is in a graceful new building sandwiched between ancient stone buildings in Dublin Castle. This picture is of the airy courtyard in between, which leads to the gift shop and the cafe.
Not far from our hotel on the Grand Canal, the National Print Museum is a place perfect for the wanderings of a couple of nostalgic reporters who remember the good old days of journalism.
Big old printing presses, great wooden cabinets of type and space bars, the smell of metal and ink, filtered sunlight, worn, wooden printers tables....
Here words fail me and I let photographs take over.