The Essence of Dublin

Well I’m finally getting around to writing about our time in Dublin!  After road-tripping around the “Wild Atlantic Coast” we were more than ready for a few days in the same place.  The great thing about Dublin was that it really isn’t that big so for the most part, it was easily explored on foot.  For this particular leg of our trip we chose to stay in an AirBnB that was fairly central without being right in the middle of the more rambunctious districts.  We can definitely attest to the fact that it was worth the few extra bucks to stay somewhere central so we could walk to all the sights that we wanted to explore.

After arriving in Dublin with a grueling full day of driving under our belt we grabbed dinner in a nearby restaurant then picked up breakfast and snacks to help save us time and money while we were there.  Once we were fed and stocked up we hunkered down for an exciting night of finalizing our itinerary and an early bedtime.

Day 1

After a good nights rest we were ready to start our exploration of Dublin!  We started out exploring two of the most famous cathedrals in Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Christ Church Cathedral (€6 entrance) is the smaller of the two with a more intimate feel, but it doesn’t offer as much in the way of background information.

CHRISTCHURCH

The Halls of Christ Church Cathedral

Once we finished at Christ Church, we walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (€6 entrance) which was an easy 5 minute walk just a few streets over.  St. Patrick’s houses a few different exhibits on the history of Ireland, Dublin, and the Cathedral.  Be sure to check out the gorgeous floors and the impressive display of antique flags!

St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick’s Cathedral


St Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick’s Cathedral


After our Cathedral explorations were finished it was time for a
trip to see the Book of Kells, a beautifully illustrated manuscript of the Gospels dating back to 900AD.  The Book of Kells is located at Trinity College and requires tickets (13) that I would suggest purchasing ahead of time.  The exhibit is well put together and also gives you access to viewing the Trinity College library which is 100% drool-worthy!

Trinity Library

Trinity Library

If archaeology and history of human civilization are your thing then I would highly recommend giving the National Museum of Archaeology a visit.  The museum contains priceless artifacts including pottery, jewelry, tools, and weapons.  The special exhibits house the famously gorgeous Brooch of Tara and the infamous Bog Bodies.  We spent several hours browsing through the building before heading back to our apartment for a little rest until our evening of Irish music began!
An absolute must while visiting anywhere in Ireland but especially in Dublin is checking out the music and pub scene which are almost the same thing…at least they reside under the same roof 95% of the time ;). If you have the opportunity I would highly recommend taking a musical pub crawl.  The pub crawl was amazing!  We travelled to 3 different pubs, got a great history of Irish music, and enjoyed an evening of music and great company!  The cost is 14 per person but does not cover drinks, that being said an Irish Pub Crawl would be incomplete without at least one pint of Guiness ;).

MUSICALPUBCRAWL

Our Musical Guides 🙂

Day 2

Our second day staying in Dublin was set aside for our day trip to Northern Ireland.  Since we were somewhat short on our time in Ireland, taking a day trip was the best way for us to see some of the best sites!  Luckily you no longer need to take your passport for the trip across the border, just remember to take your British Sterling for any cash transactions.
Our day started with a VERY early morning (6:30 meet time) to catch our tour bus where we promptly fell asleep for the first leg of the long drive.  Our first stop of the day was Dark Hedges (or “King’s Road” for any Game of Thrones fans out there).  These gorgeous trees were planted in the late 1700s to create an imposing approach to the house they lead straight to.  Over the years they have grown to make one of the most beautiful semi-natural roadways we have ever experienced.

Darkhedges

Dark Hedges – AKA “King’s Road”

The next stop on the trip was Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.  Once an area used for salmon fishing, it is now a tourist attraction to cross the bridge to the tiny island of Carrickarede.  But more than the  bridge crossing, the area offers gorgeous coastline views.  Plus if you are there on a clear day like us, you may be blessed with a view of the Scottish coastline!

CARRICKAREDE

View from Carrick-A-Rede

After we finished at the rope bridge, our tour bus took us to a cafe near Giant’s Causeway for lunch.  Once we had a warm lunch in our stomachs, we were ready to brave the downhill “skid” to Giant’s Causeway…seriously it started raining on our walk down the huge incline…we were very thankful for the handrail!  The gorgeously rugged area consisting of perfectly interlocking basalt columns was caused by an ancient volcanic eruption that formed the geometric coastline.  The ancient legend tells a far more interesting tale of an Irish giant, named Fionn mac Cumhaill, being challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant named Benandonner.  The legend says that the causeway was the bridge that Fionn built to fight and defeat Benandonner.  All legends, myths, and volcanic eruptions aside, we had a blast climbing around on the columns!

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway

After a very cold, rainy, and slippery walk back up to the bus area we were on our way to our last stop of the day…Belfast.  Back in the early 1900s Belfast was famous for its production of textiles, tobacco-processing, and shipbuilding industries…most notably the White Star Olympic Class ocean liners.  Sound familiar?  Yeah this is where the Titanic was built!  Once the center for political violence during The Troubles, it is now colorful and thriving city with a rich history.  Since we only had an hour to spend in the city, we went with seeking dry refuge in the historically preserved Crown Bar.  With it’s gorgeous mosaic tiled floors and bar, wood paneled “snugs”, and gas lamps the pub was a perfect place to grab hot Irish coffee!  If you are planning on spending more time in the city consider visiting attractions like Belfast City Hall, Black Cab Tours, and the Titanic Experience.

Crown Bar

Our dimly lit picture of Crown Bar 😉

After our short visit to Belfast, we were back on the tour bus and on our way back to Dublin! While the tour made for a very long day, it was probably the only way for us to get up to Northern Ireland.  Typically we like to spend a bit more time exploring areas so we rarely squeeze this much into a day.  However, in this case it was definitely the best way for us to get a large chunk of our Ireland bucket list checked off.  Once we were back in Dublin we stopped into a supermarket for easy dinner fixins and promptly fell into heap in our apartment.

Day 3

Since our first 2 days in Dublin were so packed, we wanted our final day to be a bit less busy.  After sleeping in a bit, we set out for the day!  Our first stop was supposed to be the Kilmainham Gaol but we didn’t plan accordingly and they were sold out for the hour that we got there.  So lesson learned…buy tickets ahead!  Luckily they had tickets for later in the afternoon so we went ahead and booked them.

We had a few hours until the tour so we walked to the Guiness Storehouse, which we had skip the line passes for!  This is a must do when in Dublin!  The museum is a great combination of history, science, nostalgia, and industrial beauty.  The self guided tour took us about 2 hours to walk through.  Make sure to stop by the Tasting Experience where they will teach you the best way to drink a Guiness.  Included in the price of your entrance, you get a free pint of the black stuff which is redeemable either at the very top floor “Gravity Bar” with a 360 view of the city, or at the “Guiness Academy” where you are trained to pour your perfect pint.  We chose to enjoy ours at the Gravity Bar!

GUINESS

Our included Pints 🙂

After grabbing lunch it was time for us to catch our tour back at the Gaol (pronounced jail).  The Kilmainham Gaol is as symbolic to Irish Independence as the Boston Tea Party or the Boston Massacre were to us here in the states.  The tour provided gives an in depth look at the history of the Gaol along with the history of the Irish Revolution.  With stops in the Main Hall, famous prisoner cells, and the spot of the Easter Rising executions on the itinerary, you get a very comprehensive picture of the prison as well as information on how it was pulled out of disrepair after Irish Independence.  This is a MUST for first timers…I know that I’ve said this about most of the things in this particular blog post, but this is the “Essence of Dublin” after all!

Kilmainham

The main hall of Kilmainham Gaol

Well our last event of our time in Dublin had to come at some point…but we went out with some fun!  So I told you about the Musical Pub Crawl…but there is also such a thing as a Literary Pub Crawl!  Ok so this may be a bit out of the ordinary, but we had a BLAST!  This went a little differently than the previous crawl.  This time around 2 actors walked us around famous landmarks in Dublin like Trinity College and the Molly Malone Statue to talk about and dramatically quote famous literary figures from Dublin such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Samual Beckett.  In between the entertaining education, we made stops at 4 pubs that Dublin’s finest authors would frequent.  We had a blast interacting with the both the actors and our fellow crawlers.  Mr. Hubby even won a little bottle of whiskey for the end of tour quiz!

With the end of the evening drawing to a close, we were exhausted but alas…it was time to go back and pack for our morning flight to the next adventure!  One of the things that we loved about Dublin was the fact that we felt like we were able to cover tons of ground in just a few days.  The city is fairly walkable although the Guiness Storehouse and Kilmainham Gaol were a bit outside of the city center.  Basically we loved spending time with all the friendly faces in Dublin and Ireland in general :).
TEMPLEBAR

The Famous Temple Bar District

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