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Culture Night 2017: Catacombs, libraries and an operating theatre

Last night Dublin was ablaze with culture. From museums opening their doors to rare collections being shown. Culture Night is a nation-wide annual event, similar to the Long Night of Museums I knew from Vienna. One evening, almost eleven kilometres walked and three awesome places – here’s our review of Culture Night 2017.

Number One: Christ Church Cathedral

We started off our night at with dinner. The little garden around the church was lined with food stalls. Fish and chips, sprinkled with seaweed – traditional food to start off an evening of traditions and culture.

Food stalls around Christ Church Cathedral

The lines moved surprisingly fast as the crowd moved into Christ Church Cathedral. As magnificent as the architecture and glass-stained windows are, our favourite part were the catacombs. There were some historical artefacts, such as replicas of traditional gowns, which were also used in the TV series The Tudors. Most touching for me were the amazing stone sculptures of graves, carved in exquisite detail.

We also learned the origin of the saying “as stuck as the cat to the rat…”. One of Christ Church’s most memorable exhibits are the mummified bodies of a cat and rat. They were both found this well preserved in an organ pipe, where they had died.

If you ever wondered what a mummified cat looks like, this is it.

Number Two: The Book of Kells

We had walked past and through Trinity University many times but never stopped to take a closer look. As someone with a degree in English literature and linguistics, I was eager to finally tick this one off my bucket list.

We had alternative plans in case the queue would be too long but we only had to wait around ten minutes until we could enter the building. It was too crowded to go through the information in detail but the pictures said more than enough. It is still incredible to me the amount of work, creativity and detail that went into these medieval manuscripts. The Book of Kells itself was mainly written by four scribes, each of them had their own distinct style.

What I was also looking forward to was to see the famous library and it didn’t disappoint. It was a bit funny to have so many people in there, everyone trying to get the perfect Instagram shot. I imagined the ghost of many a librarian wishing they could shush people and shout at them to respect the books. To be fair I did my own share of taking pictures, without flash of course. But my favourite part was simply staring at the little cut off alcoves, imagining being a student here, browsing the collection, and deciding which book to read next.

The Old Library in Trinity University

Number Three: Mater Misericordiae University Hospital

Our final stop was Samora’s pick. Since Mater Misericordiae University Hospital isn’t usually open to the public we figured it would be a fantastic chance to see something unusual and to be honest I think this was our favourite part of the night.

In the pillar room, there was an exhibition about the nurses of the hospital. It was fascinating to see how nurses a hundred or more years ago would have worked. What I liked best about this part was the appreciation for the nurses. All these diaries and old photographs were carefully kept, in honour of the people working there.

Then we went upstairs to the old operating theatre, expecting well…something historical. However, what we found were several rooms with various modern hospital equipment and people explaining, for example, what tools are used during surgery. It was fascinating to get a look up close to an environment you wouldn’t normally be able to explore like this. There were even the options to try out different tools yourself, such as trying, like a surgeon, to practise the 3d-thinking when all you have is a 2d-image. Finally, one of the most fascinating parts were seeing MRI scans up close and having explained how they work.

Culture Night 2017 in review

There would have been many more interesting places to go but we decided to call it a night as it was already past 9pm. We definitely enjoyed our little adventure. The only downside was that there were so many people there and only so little time to visit all the places we wanted to see. It would have been nice to linger a bit and look at exhibitions in detail. But it was a great insight into which places make culture come alive and to come back for some time else. Also, next year, we’ll be back for Culture Night 2018.

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