A mid-Stone age inhabitants arrived around 8000 BC, after the last ice age ended. About 3000 to 4000 years later, tribes from southern Europe arrived. Agriculture was introduced and a high Neolithic culture such as huge stone monuments in Newgrange was established. During the next 1000 years, the Bronze Age people arrived and produced elaborate gold and bronze ornaments and weapons, which we can see today. The Iron Age arrived in 4th century BC with the invasion of the Celts. Christianity was introduced around 5th century AD. The tradition goes that St. Patrick, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland, arrived Ireland in AD432 and worked to convert the Irish to Christianity. From the end of 8th century, the invasion by Vikings started and lasted for about 200 years. Then the Normans conquered Ireland in 12th century, which resulted in the assimilation of the Norman settlers into Irish society. In the early 17th century, Scottish and English Protestants arrived in Ireland and virtually colonized Ireland. In 1800, the British and Irish parliaments passed the Act of Union, merging the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain to create a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Ireland was an official part of the United Kingdom until 1921. Ireland periodically suffered from famine. The great famine of 1846 to 1848 was particularly severe. Millions died and a million more emigrated. It was the first mass wave of Irish emigration to the US, and the population continued to decline until the mid 20th century. During the end of 19th century to the early 20th century, the Irish nationalism emerged particularly among the Roman Catholic population, such as the founding of Sinn Féin ("Ourselves Alone") as an open political movement. In 1914, a home rule bill was passed but its implementation was suspended until World War I in Europe ended. In 1916, the unsuccessful Easter Rising broke out. In response to the Rising, the British government executed the leaders, which produced the massive support for Sinn Féin in the 1918’s general election. Sinn Féin declared the establishment of First Dáil (Assembly of Ireland) in 1919. British attempted to crush Sinn Féin’s challenge, sparking the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921. The Anglo-Irish Treaty concluded in 1921 brought an end to the war. With this, the Irish Free State of 26 counties within the British Commonwealth was established and the partition of the island into Ireland and Northern Ireland was recognized. Disagreement over the treaty settlement led to a subsequent bitter civil war which was fought between the Free State forces (pro-treaty) and the republican opposition during 1922 to 1923. The war was won by the Free State forces. In 1937, a new Irish constitution was enacted. Ireland was neutral in World War II. In 1948, the government officially declared Ireland a republic. In 1990’s, Ireland achieved substantial economic growth. The period of growth in the mid to late 1990’s became known as “Celtic Tiger?. Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures. Especially in the field of literature, Ireland produced many prominent writers such as Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney and James Joyce.
I joined a guided tour today.
Tour schedule was 1) a guided walk in Dublin city, 2) sightseeing in the Hill of Tara, 3) lunch 4) sight seeing in Newgrange, 5) visit to pub.
We started one-hour city walk of Dublin from a large monument (it I heard was 121m high) located on O’Connell Street to Temple Bar crossing the River Liffey. The shops were all closed because it was in the morning. The illustrations of soccer players were drawn on many windows. Seeing the illustrations, I just thought that the soccer was very popular in Ireland. According to the guide, as the FIFA World Cup was being held, they drew the images of favorite soccer teams and soccer fans gathered at the shops to cheer for them together while drinking.
*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.
Then, we visited the Hill of Tara. It was nothing but a hill without any facilities for visitors. Few sightseers were there. I thought it was partly because it did not have good access to transportation. The Hill of Tara was on the terrace and there was no high mountain around it, the view from the Hill of Tara was very nice. On the hilltop, there was an artificial stone structure with a stone erected in the center surrounded by small stones in circles. The guide told us that it was unclear for what purpose the stone structure was created. I imagined that the view from the hill was so beautiful that it was created to use for some rituals.
We took lunch at Station House Hotel. The building was originally for a station and was remodeled for a hotel. According to the guide, the hotel was famous among local people and won a lot of prizes. The Michelin seal of approval was displayed on the wall.
I had ham steak and dessert for lunch. It was simple but very delicious. I had not eaten such a delicious ham for a long time. The volume of potatoes and cabbage sauté on the side was appropriate for me and they had a good balance of taste.
The dessert was served in a small case filled with strawberries and fresh cream. I first thought it was pudding or creme brulee. But when I touched it I found it was very hot as if it was just taken out from an oven. The fresh cream melted as I watched. It tasted like apples. I thought it was apple jam with just a pinch of cinnamon added for flavor, but it was a plant called rhubarb. In China and Japan, it is called rheum and used for medical purpose. I heard that the pealed stalks were cut up into small pieces and that it was good for stomach and intestines. It tasted strange first, but I got charmed by it while tasting.
After lunch, we visited with the stomach full. The area including the Hill of Tara was designated as World Heritage Site.
The small Stonehenge-like stone structures were created sparsely in a plane. I heard that there had been wooden structures there. But it was made about 3000 years ago, so only a trace of post remained. The tomb mound itself did not seem to have been constructed 3000 years ago. The neatly stacked stones still kept the original form. According to the guide, the tomb mound had five layers and small cobbles were inserted between the large stones to prevent the structure from collapsing and make it insusceptible to rainwater.
We could enter inside the tomb. Walking through the narrow passage with a stoop to the center, there were three small chambers. Each chamber was only enough for one person to be seated. The ceiling of that part was high and we could see how the stones were stacked. The sun shines directly along the long passage into the chambers only on a few days around the winter solstice, and this phenomenon was re-enacted. When the lights were turned off, the chambers became completely dark and we could see nothing. The weather was clear and the entrance was open, but the chambers were completely dark. Then one light was lit and the floor was illuminated in a strip shape. The guide said the sun appeared just like this re-enactment on the day of the winter solstice. It was very mysterious experience.
The final destination of today’s tour was a pub outside the town. It was a pub named O'Connely, famous among local people. There was a 90 year-old lady who I heard appeared on CM and thus became famous. She enjoyed talking with visitors outside the pub. Guinness beer at home of Guinness was really delicious.
I love this town and extended the stay here one more day to enjoy strolling around the city and shopping souvenirs.