Well, this is my last blog of my Irish adventure. Truly one of my all time favourite countries I’ve travelled. What a fantastic country.
I started off in Belfast, Northern Ireland, made my way down the west coast from Galway to Killarney, (my 2 previous blogs), then took a train from Killarney to Dublin. This is where my Intrepid tour of Northern and Southern Ireland ended, and I stayed an extra four days to explore this wonderful city myself. Lots to see and do, here’s a few of my highlights!
Irish Rail, we travelled about 3.5 hours from Killarney to Dublin. Dublin, population of about 545,000. Smaller city, most things are in walking distance. As well there’s local buses, tram called the Luas and the rapid transit called the DART. I mostly got around by foot, and utilized the touristy hop on/hop off buses. When I told people I was going to be travelling Ireland this summer, a common response was; “you’re gonna love Dublin”. Yup, they were right, Dublin is a fantastic little city.
I have to start with the monument of Daniel O’Connell. He was an Irish political leader who campaigned for Catholic Emancipation; the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminister Parliament which had been denied for over 100 years. He was known for being one of the first for doing peaceful protests. Ghandi and Martin Luther King both took pages from his book for their protests.
In the 20th Century, the principal street in Dublin’s city centre was renamed O’Connell street in his honour. Very much at the centre of the city.
James Joyce statue, one of the most influential Irish novelists, short story writers, and poets of the 20th Century.
Trinity College, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Modelled after Cambridge and Oxford, and gets its university designation from the University of Dublin. Trinity College is the most prestigious university in Ireland, and one of the most elite schools in Europe. This is mostly due to its long history and affiliation to Oxford and Cambridge. Popular tourist spot due to this history, as well, its the home to The Book of Kells. This is the book of the four gospels Mathew, Mark, Luke and John written in Latin by monks in 800 A.D. It gets busy here, so go early to avoid a line up. Then after you look at the Book of Kells which is under glass, it’s worth looking in the Long Room, very impressive old library seen below. I thought that was pretty cool.
Hotels can be expensive, especially during peak season. If you are looking for alternatives to save some money, I stayed in the dorms here at Trinity College. I’ve done this in other cities as well. College/Universities have empty dorms in the summer and often rent the rooms like a hotel, even some Canadian Universities do this. I’ve done this in Toronto and Halifax. You usually do share bathrooms/showers, and they’ll provide bedding/towels and daily housekeeping. Trinity College is right in the centre of everything in Dublin, a hotel in the area is in the high $200’s and $300/night easily. I paid $100/night CAD.
Another suggestion is consider a hostel. We don’t utilize them much in North America, and often are thought of as a bunch of bunk beds and like 16 people in a big open room. Well there’s that, but you can also get private rooms with private bathrooms. I’ve utilized hostels like this all over Australia and New Zealand and saved a lot of money. Always got my own room. Sometimes a private bathroom, sometimes shared. It’s also handy because you have access to laundry and cooking facilities. Cooking some of your meals is also a helpful way to save. Europe is known for good hostels as well. This was our hostel in Galway, I had my own everything. Again, cheaper option to a hotel. I don’t do Airb&b, I haven’t had positive experiences with it. I always found it unreliable such as getting cancelled last minute or unable to get any response from the renter etc. But definitely a popular option with many. Cheaper option as well.
Temple Bar. This is one of the popular/trendy areas of Dublin that you must spend time in. It’s packed full of pubs, music, restaurants and shops. There is a Pub (pic below) called Temple Bar in the area Temple Bar District, it’s popular to stop in for a drink. Caution if you stay right in the area as it’s very loud with its buzzing night life. But definitely an area worth visiting. Lots of great live Irish music. But keep in mind, drink prices are jacked up.
Lots of restaurants to pick from, especially in the Temple Bar area. This is a very delicious Irish Coddle from the Old Mill Restaurant. It’s a very phallic sausage, potato, Irish stew dish.
Of course being right on the Irish Sea, you can get almost anything fresh seafood. Mussels, seafood chowder, lobster rolls…just to name a few.
This is the latest grifting game. So the game is, you pay 10 euros (About $15 CAD), if you can hold onto the bar for 100 seconds, you’ll get 100 Euros. No one ever wins. Their hands always slip. I watched so many people of different ages and fitness levels try it. They all let go. I can only imagine what the dude in the black shirt makes a night.
I highly recommend taking the Guinness Storehouse tour. Even if you don’t drink it, it’s very interesting to go through. Lots of interesting history here. Started by Sir Arthur Guinness in 1759. This site, the St.James’ Brewery was leased for 9,000 years for a 100 pounds for the first year and 45 pounds per year after. The property was bought outright in 1990. As well, he and his wife Olivia had 21 kids, but only 10 survived to adulthood. My favourite part of the tour was the floor with all the old advertisements.
Don’t forget to get your free Guinness at the end! If you want, there is a spot where they teach you to pour your own.
St. Stephen’s Green Park. It was restricted to local residents until 1877 when Sir Arthur Guinness, yes the beer guy, started an initiative to open it up to the public. He later bought the land so he could give it back to the people. Still a public park today thanks to him.
You see these palm like trees all over Ireland. I was surprised to see these. But they get warm air up from the Gulf Stream, and the temperatures don’t freeze, so they survive just fine!
The end or beginning of the park, however you want to look at it, goes right into Grafton Street. If you are into shopping and street performers, then this is the street for you. Dublin has excellent shopping!
The Spire, also known as the monument of light. Found in the heart of the city, this stainless Steele pin like monument is 398 feet high.
The EPIC Irish Emigration Museum. This was one of my favourite museums I’ve been to. It’s incredibly well done. Irish history, lets face it, a real downer. This museum does touch on that history, but mostly focuses on the Irish impact all over the world. It’s fascinating and lots of interesting positive contributions. It’s a must do if you are in Dublin. Very high tech and interactive.
Irish potato famine memorial statues.
Some interesting reads I came across…
If you like a good afternoon tea and double decker buses, well look no further! Now you can ride around Dublin looking at some of the main sights, having your afternoon tea and listening to some jazzy standards from the 1940’s. Even though the plates are on non slip surface, I quickly found out that doesn’t stop pastries from flying off the plate when the driver takes a sharp turn!
If that doesn’t float your boat, then get on a different double decker bus and do a ghost tour. Now if ghosts aren’t your thing, no worries. I’ve done a few different ghost/haunted tours in a few different countries. What I really like about them, is you often learn another side to history of the area. For example, on this tour, our guide talked a lot about grave robbing and body snatching as it was big back in the 18th and 19th century. Also, we made a few stops at some old churches and graveyards and learned some interesting history about those places. Our guide was interesting and hilarious.
I also highly recommend doing this tour. It’s very popular, so book online to ensure you get a time slot. You can’t tour the grounds without a guided tour, you can buy tickets on site, however you run the risk of it being sold out. So go online. Opened in 1726 and closed in 1924. This prison held many men, women and children. Crimes could be for petty things such as stealing bread, to more serious crimes such as murder. Many political prisoners ended up here, as well as executions happened. It also held prisoners before they were shipped to Australia for imprisonment there. Which is a whole other history there.
They have a great little museum on site, I highly recommend going through that as well before or after your tour.
Phoenix Park is another hot spot. It’s 707 hectares (1752 acres). To give a better idea of the scale, Phoenix Park could fit Central Park in New York City twice in it, and Hyde Park in London six times in it. It’s one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city. It’s home to the Dublin zoo, the Wellington monument and the official home of the President of Ireland.
If you want to get outside the city, there’s lots of different ways to go about it. There are many different day tours you can take with different tour companies such as Irish Day Tours. But if you want to get out to a beach, there’s lots of little fishing villages or beach spots close by. I jumped on the rapid transit called the DART. I took the DART to Howth, a fishing village, about 30 min ride out. Then I was right on the Irish Sea. Another suggestion is going the opposite way on the line to Bray which is known for its beaches and Bono from U2 having a house out there.
Well I’m sad to say my time in Ireland is done and I made it home to Lethbridge. I can’t say which place was my favourite part as I truly loved everywhere I visited. It’s all unique and different, but the people and the vibe are wonderfully the same everywhere I went. I’ve travelled to 19 different countries, and Ireland definitely tops my list. I can’t say enough great things, so put Ireland on your bucket list. Thanks for following, until next time, whenever that may be!🙏 😊 ♥️