Despite humidity, the sun shines on buildings around us, those that make up one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Walking a few steps down following Pól and his wisdom and leaving behind Molly Malone, the Bank of Ireland and its wonderful building shaped semicircle filled with classical columns seems to indicate the entrance to the famous Trinity College of Dublin. Although the small, secret and hidden alleys of Dublin are the most inspiring and interesting places for Pól and those ones that led him to write 'Secret Dublin', the University and all its cultural splendor definitely worth a visit. Trinity College was founded by Elizabeth I of England in 1592 and even its location in the heart of the city, it maintains its college ambience thanks to the construction of its buildings, facing the courtyards. The University houses the Old Library with the most known cultural treasure around the country: the famousBook of Kells, displayed in a permanent exhibition within the Library. According to experts, it is believed to have been created ca. 800 AD by Celtic monks and it is the best preserved manuscript about medieval religious art, its rich techniques and illustrations look yet at its best. The beautiful buildings of Trinity College, its statues and the green fields around them make a pleasant walk away from the loud avenues.
We leave the courtyards of Trinity College and walk in the footsteps of Pól following an increasingly remarkable bustle. Turning a corner we stand among streams of people, cars and yellow buses. Suddenly, we are opposite the famous Liffey river crossed by the O'Connell Bridge and the street of the same name. This is the main comercial street in Dublin, the epicenter of shopping and entertainment in the capital. From our point we can see the statue of nationalist leader Daniel O'Connel with the popular Spire behind, also know as the 'Monument of Light'. It is a very large stainless steel cone that tapers to its tip trying to touch the few clouds flying across the sky. Its 120 meters high make it the tallest monument in the world. But as Pól is not exactly a lover of populous and commercial places, his footsteps immediately turn left to skirt the river and cross the Grattan Bridge. Around this bridge is also developed the renowned Temple Bar, the Irish pub par excellence which took the name of the neighborhood to become world famous (or was it the neighborhood which took the name of the pub? One of those Dublin secrets...). However, this area is not chosen by our friend, with whom we cross the bridge to get to Capel Street.
A few steps from the bridge Pól opens the door so we can enter the Hubber Brother café, with a simple and unexpected homey décor far from the typical and known Irish pub ambience. The light wood tables and the completely smooth gray walls invite us to relax around the three cappuccinos that a nice young lady is serving with a big smile. While enjoying the taste of hot coffee should be the perfect thing to do with a weather as the Irish one, something known for everybody is that the traditional drink of the country is of course the famous Guinness stout. Brewed since 1759 by Arthur Guinness, the beer brand has managed to link itself with the soul of the entire Irish nation representing it and becoming its icon worldwide. In the city is also possible to get to know its history thanks to the Museum of the brand known as Guinness Storehouse. This type of beer is traditionally famous also due to the celebration of St. Patrick's Day every March 17, probably one of the most important days of the year across the country and also the date on which the death of the patron saint of Ireland is commemorated. That day all the citizens wear green clothes, celebrating in the streets with Guinness beers and even dyeing the Liffey River, the one we have just crossed, with the predominant color of nature that you can find here in every corner. Located on the other side of the Liffey River is St. Patrick's Cathedral, surrounded as it could not be otherwise with the beautiful St. Patrick's Park. Did you know that in this park famous Saint Patrick sang psalms all night... while naked? What a surprise! The well where he used to sing is now preserved in the cathedral, but according to Pól there is no clue about his lack of clothing.
It's getting late and Pól starts receiving calls nonstop. His busy schedule does not allow him so many distractions in one day. The smiling girl who served us coffee says goodbye and the humidity of the city make our cheeks almost get wet when we open the door to go back to the street. Dublin retains the charm of intimacy, which is essential for our friend if you want to describe this city. Maybe other big cities like London or New York have lost that intimate family vibe of crossing with the same familiar faces everyday at the street. In fact, in our walk there have been more than a few occasions when Pól has met a friend. Therefore the capital continues to maintain a close feeling that welcome all whom, like us, try to get immersed in the green parks and the noise of the main streets.
Thousands of new secrets and unusual places are waiting for Pól Ó Conghaile in all the hidden corners of Dublin and our friend brings his gentle manners back to thank us our visit to his beautiful city. Our gratitude is eternal when we say goodbye almost overwhelmed by such an important man who has guided us through one of the most unique capitals of Europe. Among the buildings of gray bricks and black roofs and under a beautiful blue sky, Pól gets lost in the crowd in search of another hidden leprechaun. There, under a pleasant summer sun and with the magic of Dublin unfolded before our eyes we realize once again that in life one has to be curious in order not to leave behind an unexpected secret.
A special thanks to Pól Ó Conghaile for his time and inspiration.
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