Fall Break Part 3: Ireland

Wednesday we flew into Dublin and bought bus tickets. We were told by several people that Dublin is not the best walking city, so we should get a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket. These buses go to all the main tourist attractions. We found a guy selling them right outside the airport, and we found out that there several different companies that give them. We bought tickets for the green bus because that’s what he was selling. Looking back, I wish we had just done the city bus. Our bus only went one direction on the route, so if we wanted to go the opposite direction, we either had to ride for over an hour or walk 15 minutes. We ended up doing that a lot. Also, they don’t run 24 hours, so we couldn’t use it early in the morning when we started our day. The only reason I would think those buses would be good would be if you planned your day around the bus schedule and route. The city buses, from what I saw, had many more stops, longer hours, and went both directions.

Once in Dublin, we headed straight for the Guinness Brewery. Guinness is THE Irish beer brand, so it was a good start to learn about a company that is a big part of their culture. It had some neat museum-like exhibits, a room where they teach you the correct way to drink a Guinness, and a skyline bar. Included in the tour is a full pint, which I learned to pour myself. I got a certificate and everything. I’m still not a huge beer fan, but the Guinness was definitely my favorite so far.

The original deed

The harp is not just the Guinness logo, but also a symbol for Dublin.

The lady who taught us how to properly pour a Guinness.

  

The view from the sky lounge

From there, we went to the castle, but didn’t end up taking a tour because we were on a tight schedule. We stopped in the Chester Beatty Library, which is very close, to see the illuminated manuscripts and prints. The library was free, which was really nice, and I would definitely go back to spend more time there.

castle

castle courtyard

From there, we dropped by St. Patrick’s cathedral, which was beautiful. It had a lovely park/garden.  Also, I think Jonathan Swift is buried there.


  
  

I thought the story behind this door was interesting. see picture below

     

I took this while waiting for the bus.

I took this while crossing the bridge on the way to Jameson.

After that, we went to tour the Jameson whiskey distillery. It was quite a different experience than Guinness: we had a guided tour, it had less flashy displays, and it looked altogether cozier and classier. We did a little tasting where we compared Jameson to Scottish and American whiskey. Obviously everyone said they liked Jameson the best, because it was far smoother due to being triple-distilled. We got an actual drink at the end of the tour, and I had a Jameson with ginger ale and lime. It was really good.

Jameson, ginger ale, and lime.

Later that night, we went to a pub called O’Neill’s that my friend Ginny recommended from her visit in the spring. It was a buffet-style restaurant, where you just tell the people behind the counter what you want. I got a pork chop (I think), red cabbage stuff, mashed potatoes with delicious sweet gravy, and carrots. No joke, it was the best meal I’ve had in Europe. It reminded me of good home cooking. We sat beside a Swedish older couple, who talked to us about slight cultural differences, like the way we cut our meat and how Ireland has two sink faucets- one for hot and one for cold water. We were so hungry and delighted with the food that we didn’t even get a drink, not even water.

Best meal I’ve had in Europe. It reminded me of home.

I highly recommend O’Neill’s.

We then went back to our hostel to get some much needed rest. 

The next day, we took a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. We took a pit stop in a little town that was the ancestral home of Barack Obama of all people. He had a visitor center and exhibit in the gas station that was named after him. I got some really delicious yogurt with berries there. 

We rode a little ways more and stopped for a couple pictures in Limerick. As we left, one of the passengers fittingly told a limerick (rhyming poem) that her mother wrote.

   

We drove a little ways more and were at the Cliffs of Moher, which are on the complete opposite side of the country from Dublin. They were absolutely stunning! There was a pathway that took you pretty close to the edge going both ways, and you could venture even closer if you were willing to brave the strong winds and slippery mud and grass. We really lucked out with the weather that day! Who knew it could be so sunny in Ireland?

There was a wall on part of it, but it quickly ended the further from the visitor center you walked.

We walked around and took pictures for a couple hours, enjoying the view. The cliffs were so high up, but somehow there was sea foam scattered about that the wind had carried up.  There was also a cool tower there.


  

Someone said part of Harry Potter was filmed here.

The pathway

On one side, there were the cliffs, and on the other, cow pastures.

    From there, we went to Doolin for lunch, where we ate at McGann’s. I got fish and chips and an Irish coffee, which were delicious.

  We then went to the Burren, a rocky place where they used to send people as punishment. We took lots of pictures and explored the area, climbing up on this very narrow ledge to the plateau.

Standing on a boulder

   We then stopped by this old little abbey that was basically just ruins. There were graves inside the church. They still use it as a cemetery.

We then stopped in this quaint little village of Kinvara, where i went in this cute little co-op that sold all sorts of handmade crafts. I bought a wool hat!
 

That night, we went to the Temple Bar, which is very touristy and very crowded, but still pretty cool. We were about to leave when the band started playing “Wagon Wheel” and we decided we had to stay. We somehow managed to get seats right by the stage. The band was two Irish guys, one playing the guitar and one the banjo. They were amazing and played songs we knew, like Journey and Johnny Cash.  

     The next morning we visited the Kilmainham Gaol (jail) where the leaders of the rebellion against England were held and executed. It took way too long to get there,but it was neat to learn more about Ireland’s independence.

Several movies have been filmed here.

Took this on the way back to the bus stop.

For our last taste of Dublin, we visited Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, a Medieval copy of the Gospels, now bound into four books, rather than the original one book. They were beautifully decorated, and they turn a new page each day.

The famous old library

Trinity College campus

After that, we sped off to the airport to catch our flight to Copenhagen! We were very excited that we got stamps in our passports, because when traveling in the EU, they don’t usually do that. Of all the places I’ve been, Ireland is the only one that I feel like I have to go back. Dublin was not a very pretty or walkable city, but I fell in love with the culture, food, accents, countryside, music, all that. I really wish I could have spent more time there, but it will be even more enjoyable with my family or friends from home.

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