A few days after I got back from Paris, I left for Dublin!
One of my good friends from Sicily (where I taught English in five years ago) moved to Dublin a few years ago, and I couldn’t wait to visit. Ireland has been on the top of my list of places to visit for a long time. Although I don’t have any Irish heritage, one of my closest aunts (by marriage) is from Ireland, and so I grew up with lots of Irish culture around. Alessandra invited me for Easter, and I was delighted to check another country off my list!
The weather in Ireland was much colder than it had been in Paris the week before. While Paris had felt like summer, Ireland felt like winter. But it was worth it anyway, because the country was still beautiful! Instantly I felt at home in Ireland. No offense to the British, but Ireland feels much more friendly and welcoming right off the bat.
On my first night in Dublin, Alessandra and I met up with my Irish friend Fergal and his friends at a pub. Fergal and his friends are all getting their Masters in Irish Gaelic, so they speak with each other in Gaelic. It was fun to hear!
We also walked by the statue of Molly Malone, the symbol of Dublin. For some reason, it’s good luck to rub her boob…when in Rome!
The next day Alessandra had to go to work, so I went off to sightsee on my own. I started by doing a free walking tour. It was Good Friday, the one day of the year besides Christmas that all are and pubs are closed! Our guide told us that the previous night, we would have been able to see Irish people carting big boxes and bags of alcohol to their cars, as if the ban were going to last much longer than a day.
On the tour, we saw the River Liffey, Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin Castle and Gardens, Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We also learned a lot about the history of Dublin, and Irish culture and traditions. I always love starting out in a new city with a free walking tour (I’ve also done them in Rome, Oslo, Berlin and Copenhagen) because it orients me to the city and gives me a bit of history before I see the main sights.
After the tour, I tried to find a museum to visit, but because it was Good Friday, most museums were closed! I finally found The Little Museum of Dublin and snagged the last ticket on their last tour of the day. This museum had artifacts and items from throughout the 20th century in Dublin.
One of the biggest moment’s in Ireland’s recent history was when President John F. Kennedy visited in 1963. Our tourguide described it as a moment when Irish people, who were used to thinking of themselves as stupid and with no upward mobility, came to see one of their own reach one of the highest positions of world power. This is the stand JFK used to make his speech to the Irish people – actually a music stand that was procured at the last minute!
On Saturday, Alessandra and I took a day trip to the Cliffs of Howth, which deserves a separate blog post!
On Easter Sunday, we went out for a big Irish breakfast. The restaurant we found was very cozy, with a big wall-to-wall bookshelves and armchairs at the tables.
Then we visited the Jameson Distillery, right near Alessandra’s apartment. The distillery tour was very interesting, and included a tasting to compare Irish whiskey, Scotch (Scottish whiskey), and Bourbon (American whiskey). The ticket also included a Jameson cocktail.
In the afternoon we got ice cream at Murphy’s, which was recommended by a friend who had studied abroad in Dublin. I got the most Irish-sounding flavors: Dingle Sea Salt (from Dingle in Killarney) and Caramelized Brown Bread.
In the evening we went to a restaurant/bar in a former church, called Church, where they had traditional Irish music and dancing. We joked that we made it to church on Easter after all!
On Monday, Alessandra was back to work, and I took a tour of Trinity College. The tours are given by students and give a nice overview of the history of Dublin’s oldest university. It also includes a visit to the famous library, which houses the Book of Kells (from the year 800) and Brian Boru’s harp, which is the symbol of Ireland.
In the afternoon, I went to the Guinness Storehouse. I wasn’t too crazy about this, since it seems like one big advertisement for Guinness (if you’ve been to the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta it’s very similar) but I did enjoy learning how to pull the perfect pint of Guinness, as well as the 360-degree view of Dublin from the bar in the top floor. All in all, I think this is something you can skip unless you’re really into beer. You should, however, buy the Guinness fudge (like taffy/caramels) which you can find in any souvenir shop. They were amazing.
On Tuesday, I went on an incredible day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, which also deserves a separate post. Wednesday was rainy and dreary. I met my friend Fergal and his girlfriend Roisín for brunch, and then walked around the city center before catching my flight back to London.
Follow Marathons and Macarons: