Giant Irish Deer, Bog Bodies, Yeats and Birthday Wishes

Wednesday July 15th ~ Dublin City

National Museum of Ireland - Archeology

National Museum of Ireland – Archeology

We had been told about the bog bodies that had been found, and our curiosity had been peaked.  When we left the hotel, our original plan was to walk a few blocks to restaurant row and have a late lunch.  We were only a few feet down the road when Tim suggests we go to the museum to see what the bog men display was all about.

There is usually a line of taxi cabs in front of major hotels, and we simply went to the head of the line.  Since this was totally out of the blue, we did not have any idea which museum housed the exhibit.  Inquiring with the driver, he too did not know, so he consulted with two other fellow drivers, they came to a conclusion of which museum, and off we went.

Dropping us off a few minutes later in front of the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History, we entered inside only to find out this was not the correct site. We found out that the National Museum of Ireland consists of several different museums, each housed in a different building.  The one we wanted was the Archaeology Museum, a few minute walk away.  Oh well, we decided that while we were there to take a look and enjoy it anyway.

Inside the Natural History Museum

Inside the Natural History Museum

The Natural Museum is free to enter and has an enormous display of taxidermy animals from all over the world, including a discovery section of insects that the kids seemed to be enjoying.  Many of the animals skeletons were also on display.

The skeletons of the Giant Irish Deer (also called Irish Elk), the largest deer that ever lived, really impressed me.  They were HUGE, standing 7 foot at the shoulder with antlers measuring 12 feet from tip to tip.  Long extinct, they ranged across Northern Europe, Asia and Northern Africa.  The most recent skeletons date back 7700 years ago, and most remains have been found in Irish bogs.

Tim in front of a Giant Irish Deer

Tim in front of a Giant Irish Deer

I was saddened that the stairs to the upper levels were blocked off with a sign that stated:

 “We apologize that the balcony levels are closed.  This is due to the lack of emergency exits at upper levels in this building.”

The sign went on to explain that:

“The National Museum of Ireland regrets the lack of access to these areas of the exhibition.  There is a plan to develop this building and solve this problem”

I hope that they can find a solution as it is a shame to have a large portion of the museum not available to view.  It appeared from below that there were at least two levels of displays that we could not get to.

Leaving there, we grabbed a quick lunch at a fabulous place called “Chopped”.  You line up, chose your salad ingredients from a wide selection which the server puts into a hefty size bowl and passes it down the line to the “chopper”.  That person pours your chosen bits onto a large chopping block and fiercely chops them into small pieces.  Putting the pieces then into a large bowl, dressing is added, a quick toss and your finished salad is plated or packaged for take out.

A five-minute walk brought us to our original goal – the Archeology Museum so we could find out more about the Bog Men.

Here is perhaps more information than you want to know, including some difficult to see pictures, but I love learning something new, so found it all quite interesting.

“A bog body (Moorleiche in German) is a human cadaver that has been naturally mummified within a peat bog. Such bodies, sometimes known as bog people, are both geographically and chronologically widespread, having been dated to between 9000 BCE and the Second World War.  The unifying factor of the bog bodies is that they have been found in peat and are partially preserved; however, the actual levels of preservation vary widely from perfectly preserved to mere skeletons.” ~ Wikipedia

One big difference from a normal cadaver, is that the bog bodies seem to have retained their skin and organs.  The bog conditions seem to tan and preserve the skin, but the high acid levels of the peat dissolve most or all of the bones.  The result can be leather like skin, with amazing detail still in tact including hair and facial features.

Clonycavan Man

Bog Body ~ Clonycavan Man 392-201 BC

Bog Body ~ Clonycavan Man 392-201 BC

Many of the bodies have “…a number of similarities, such as violent deaths and a lack of clothing, leading archaeologists to believe that they were killed and deposited in the bogs as a part of a widespread cultural tradition of human sacrifice or the execution of criminals.” ~ Wikipedia

Old Croghan Man

Oldcroghan Man 362-175 BC

Old Croghan Man 362-175 BC

But dead bodies was not the only thing on display here.  From gold jewelry to Egyptian mummies, there is a lot to see.  I think both of these museums were worth a visit and you can’t beat the price – FREE.

Gold necklaces also found in bogs in Ireland

Gold necklaces also found in bogs in Ireland

Right opposite the Archeology Museum in a mirror-image building is the National Library of Ireland.  My life-long love of books made me curious to take what I thought would be a quick look inside. But nooooo, instead, I found a terrific display room all about the poet W.B. Yeats and ended up spending about an hour and a half browsing through this well laid out exhibit.

Here is a link that will give you a glimpse into what we had the privilege of seeing.

Born in Dublin in 1865, Yeats was a lover of women, and did not marry until late in life, in his early 50’s.  Some of his relationships turned into life-long friendships and inspirations for many of his poems.  He had a fascination with the occult and his much younger bride, Georgie, practiced automatic writing.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923.

Not sharing my enthusiasm for the printed word, I think Tim was seeing cross-eyed by the time we left.

I will close with one of my favorite travel quotes, about books, but not by Yeats.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Gratitude Moment:  Although I am writing about the events that took place on the 15th, this will actually be posted on the 18th which happens to be my “little” sister’s 60th birthday.  So I want to take a moment to brag about her.

Jan was always the smart one in our family, with straight “A’s” all through school. Cheerleader, Student Body President, Honored Queen in Job’s Daughters, and numerous academic awards including membership in Mensa followed.  Winning a full scholarship to college, she went on to get a Master’s Degree and PhD in Physics and Geophysics from Stanford.  She had a long and successful career working for the US Geological Survey (USGS) in Washington, DC.

But what I am most grateful for is the loving relationship we have maintained over the years.  When our mother got ill and could no longer live alone and then eventually succumbed to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, Jan shared the load of caring for mom, moving her into a retirement community and eventually she took on the task of handling all the many details related to settling her estate.

Never once during all the stressful moments and decisions that needed to be made did we have cross words.  We have lived by the mantra that our relationship is far more important than any “thing” could ever be.

So my gratitude moment today is to express how fortunate I feel to have been blessed with having this amazing woman in my life that I also get to call my sister.  I love you Jan – Happy 60th Birthday!

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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10 Responses to Giant Irish Deer, Bog Bodies, Yeats and Birthday Wishes

  1. Mike Alesko says:

    Happy birthday to your dear sister, your parents obviously raised you two well! Question about the bog people — were any of the guys named Peat? Sorry, an attempt at some Irish- themed humor. Seriously tho, if the bodies survived so long in the big conditions, how do they now stay intact on exhibit? What’s the skinny on that?

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    • Mike, the bodies went through extensive examinations including forensic testing and MRI’s before undergoing a preservation process. They are however deteriorating (although more slowly) now that they are out of the bog environment.

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  2. Yes, sisters and brothers are very special.

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  3. Mary Beth says:

    I have followed your wonderful blog since I discovered it in April while on a Gate 1 Danube cruise. Reading it has brought back many travel memories ie. Spitsbergen on a Princess cruise during the summer solstice, Normandy, among others. Hope you have time to visit the Wicklow Mountains, Sally Gap, and Glendalough, just south of Dublin–great day trip from Dublin, some of the most scenic countryside in Ireland. Enjoy your travels!

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  4. Cindi says:

    Fascinating glimpse into history — I had no idea about bog bodies!

    And your words about your sister are genuine and moving.

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  5. Brenda says:

    Interesting info on the Natural History Museum, however the part that I felt in my soul is the love and respect you and your sister have for each other. Thanks for sharing a little bit about her. Wow. She is one smart woman!!!! Very impressive. All that, as well as a kind and loving person. What a beautiful combination.

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