Viking Beastie has Landed!

Viking BeastieYesterday my wanderings took me along Fishamble Street, in Dublin city centre.
Fishamble StreetFishamble Street 2

Looks pretty ordinary, doesn’t it? But Fishamble Street has quite the historical backstory! Its origins can be traced back to the 10th century, when it was used by the Vikings as a thoroughfare connecting the riverfront to the main market centre in what is now High Street. In fact, its distinctive curved shape is a deliberate design feature – it’s to make it easier to pull carts up the steep hill!
Curve in Fishamble StreetFishamble Street’s varied history also includes a spell as a fish market (“Fishamble” is a running-together of “fish shambles”, “shambles” being an old word for open-air meat markets and slaughterhouses) and it was the site of the first ever performance of Handel’s “Messiah” in 1742. However, I will always associate this street with the people who put it there in the first place. The majority of the Viking artefacts currently on display in the National Museum of Ireland were found right here in Fishamble Street – they were excavated when Dublin City Council built their civic offices here in the 1970s. If you know where to look, you’ll see plaques in the pavement showing which items were found there.
Plaque in Fishamble Street Plaque in Fishamble Street 2

So, given all that history, I was hardly surprised when I came across a very confused Viking Beastie. He was all at sea amongst the trappings of 21st century Dublin.
Confused Viking Beastie
And you can’t blame him. I’m sure the view has changed a bit since the Vikings first sailed up the Liffey more than a thousand years ago!
Not-so-Viking Dublin

Fortunately, I knew a place where he’d feel right at home. We walked around the side of Christ Church Cathedral…
Christ Church Cathedral

…To Dublinia, where you can experience life in Viking Dublin for yourself!
Viking Beastie with Longboat 066

We even found a longship! Feeling a little more at ease, Viking Beastie agreed to come back to Beastie Towers for a cup of tea. And on the way there…
A Longship... in the Park!

What’s that? A longship… in the PARK?
Viking Beastie in the Park
Nope, just a children’s playground. All the same, the apparently thriving Viking community in modern-day Dublin has helped this Beastie to feel right at home! I think he’s going to stick around for a while!

A Grand Day Out… With Victorian Explorer Beastie

Victorian Explorer Beastie With Hippo

I had to go out and pick up a few last-minute display bits for the Pop Up Shop over the weekend, and I thought I would treat myself to a quick wander around one of my favourite places in Dublin – the Natural History Museum!Natural History Museum

I love this place. It’s like a museum of a museum – a real old-fashioned collection of interesting things in hardwood and glass cases, uncluttered by the beeping interactive displays and looping videos that infest most modern museums. Most of the animals are labelled with only their name (in English and Latin), where they came from and when they were added to the collection. If you want to know more about them, you have everything you need to do the rest of the legwork yourself at home. This frees you up to actually look at the animals while you’re in the museum, and appreciate their size, their colouring, the crazier features of their bodies that help them to survive… it’s also a great place to do some people-watching!

I figured Victorian Explorer Beastie would feel right at home here, so I brought him along for the ride.
Outside the Natural History Museum
The ground floor of the building houses Irish fauna. These giant Irish elk skeletons greet you as you walk in!

Irish Elk Skeleton

Even the smallest animals get a look-in – there are cases at the back containing all kinds of minibeasts, from beetles to slugs. Understandably, perhaps, the butterflies and moths are the most popular!
Butterfly Case

Upstairs is the “Animals of the World” exhibition, where Victorian Explorer Beastie came face-to-face with a monkey…
Explorer Beastie with Capuchin Monkey
… Met a record-breaking Irish wolfhound…
Explorer Beastie with Irish Wolfhound

…And realised he is much, much smaller than an elephant.
Victorian Explorer Beastie with Elephant
He also nearly got into a spot of bother – LOOK BEHIND YOU!
He's behind you...

Turned out the hippo was only having a bit of a yawn, so we left unscathed. But we’ll be back! Hope you enjoyed visiting with us!