In the Presence of Giants

While in Ireland earlier this year, we decided to rent a car on Sunday and drive up the coast. Ingrid mentioned going to The Giant’s Causeway, which I had never heard of, but it turned out to be delightful. We drove about three hours north of Dublin to the tip top of Northern Ireland. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I was a little wary of traveling through Northern Ireland. Why, you might ask? I was a teenager/college student during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I remember the news being filled with The Troubles and stories of bombs, and blasts, and violence, and death. It’s funny how an idea, or a perception, can get stuck in your mind, even if it’s not reality anymore. The drive turned out to be lovely. The most trouble we encountered was, as a driver accustomed to driving on the right side of the road, making a right hand turn, not realizing we were crossing oncoming traffic. Oncoming traffic that happened to be very close.

We opted for the guided tour of the causeway. A few of us walked out of the visitor’s center into blustery winds and a drizzle that persistently became a respectable rain. Despite that (or maybe because of that, it seemed fitting to be exploring Ireland in the rain) we had such a fun afternoon. The tour guide was incredibly humorous, sharing the story of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the creation of the causeway. We walked down to the water’s edge, and explored the magnificent rock formations. And walked in the presence of giants.

Standing in the Long Room

Books, books, and more books at Trinity College

Books, books, and more books at Trinity College

In February of this year, I had the chance to visit Ireland for the first time. It’s been a country that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time (since I was a teenager), and somehow never got to. I was there primarily for work, but had a lovely time walking around Dublin, listening to the fantastic accents (eavesdropping is one of my favorite activities anyway, and when it’s eavesdropping with accents? heaven!), and having a drink at the pub.

On our last afternoon there, we walked over to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells exhibit is very well-organized, explaining the history, the art, and the various scripts. The end of the exhibit leads you into a dimly lit room where actual pages of the Book of Kells are on display, pages that are *over* 1,000 years old! It’s a stunning masterpiece. The calligraphy is divine, the colors intense, and the illustrations timeless.

After I peered over the pages, walking around the exhibit several times, stopping to observe the pages from all angles, I climbed the stairs to the Long Room. I stood in awe. I was standing in a space more reverent than a church. All around me were books, books, and more books, from floor to ceiling, the entire length of the room. It was the perfect room. The afternoon sun streamed through the windows, illuminating the hundreds of thousands of books that surrounded me. I walked up and down the center aisle, looking at titles, fantasizing I had a job as a librarian there and was allowed beyond the velvet ropes, searching for a rare book. I breathed in the wood, the darkness, the solemness, and was supremely happy I finally made it to Ireland.