In Dublin’s Fair City

100T0941We ended our incredible anniversary trip around Ireland by spending a few days in Dublin before flying home.

I spent a half day in Dublin around St. Patty’s Day 10 years ago as my friends and I made our way from Galway back to Coleraine, but this time we got to see and experience so much more than my afternoon in the city so long ago.

We decided to buy the hop-on/hop-off bus pass and it was a decent way to get around. We went too quickly to take pictures–it’s definitely  a form of transportation vs. a tourism mobile–and it was hard to hear the announcements, but it made sense to have a way to get around.

We are walkers and usually hoof it around cities to really get a feeling and sense for a place, but some of the sites in Dublin are a fair distance from one another so the bus was a nice way to travel between the farthest destinations.

Our hotel was south of the river and downtown but we could easily walk up Grafton Street to Trinity College to begin our adventures. The thing I wanted to see most was the Trinity College Library and Book of Kells so that was our first stop our first morning. There was already a line when we arrived but we waited patiently and finally got in.

There was a very nice display leading up to the book with all kinds of historical information about how the book was made. The book itself was open to some incredible pages and I loved seeing it in person.

Despite the amazing history and opportunity to see the Book, my favorite part of our visit was the library. It was absolutely incredible. I took tons of pictures, but here are a few of my favorites.

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The library and display were getting packed as we left and walked over to Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral. We only explored the grounds, opting not to pay to go in. I had been inside the churches before and Brian wasn’t interested in fighting the crowds.

We did stop to see the statue of Molly Malone  and take some pictures. An older couple asked us to take their picture and the woman said she remembered hearing the song as a little girl. Me too!

We also walked along Fishamble Street next to Christ Church Cathedral, which is one of the oldest roads in the city. There were some pubs and shops along the road and we came out along the River Liffey.

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We hopped on one of the buses and rode around to the north shore by way of the park and Dublin Zoo. We hopped off at Nancy Hands Bar and Restaurant for our free Guinness and then walked over to the Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub, for lunch.

It was nice outside and in their outdoor eating space but the place was packed. We were able to sit at the end of an occupied table and enjoy some people watching as we ate our lunch. Afterward we walked along the north bank of the river and over to the Jameson Distillery.

We had to put our names in and wait a while until our tour, but we took some pictures in the courtyard and also did a quick tasting before heading in.

This was one of my favorite distillery tours ever! We watched a quick and interesting video before the tour, our guide was hilarious and then we had a hefty amount to drink at the end.

The tasting was fun–they had you try Jameson along with some other ‘unnamed’ whiskeys and scotches for comparison– and then you went into a final room and could have your drink straight or mixed with ginger ale. We had one of each–I was glad we had a decent lunch before the afternoon tasting affair!

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We caught the bus and traveled along the river in the waning afternoon light, ending at the Parnell Street loop near the Spire of Dublin. We ended up having to get off our bus and catch another around Trinity College and Merrion Square. The traffic was busy at rush hour and there were tons of people on bicycles.

It was a fun filled day but we were tired and had an early dinner at a little pub near our hotel. The next morning we slept in, had a delicious Irish breakfast at the hotel and then walked up to St. Stephen’s Green. This was a beautiful park and green space in the middle of town, and there were quite a few people sitting on benches and watching the fountains and birds. I’m sure it’s even lovelier in spring and early summer when all of the flowers are in bloom.

The peaceful and relaxing morning set the stage for our last day in Ireland. We took another loop on the bus, enjoying the weather and hopping off just outside of town at the Guinness Storehouse. We’d had plenty of Guinness throughout the trip and didn’t think we needed another brewery tour, but the nearby warehouses were neat so we did walk around and take some pictures.

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Afterward we walked up to the river and along to the Temple Bar District. I had heard it was a complete tourist trap and that’s true. We tried stopping in a couple pubs but they were packed–standing room only, guys singing Oasis at the top of their lungs, and music blaring in every direction.

Apparently I’m getting old–it wasn’t for me. I did love all the little bohemian shops in the district, and we spent our time checking those out and buying a few souvenirs. My fun purchase was a neat print I hope to frame and hang at home.

We stayed along the river until we found Davy Byrnes Pub, which James Joyce frequented. It made an appearance in both Dubliners and Ulysses, but more so in the later via character Leopold Bloom.

“He entered Davy Byrnes. Moral pub. He doesn’t chat, stands a drink now and then. But in a leap year once in four. Cashed a cheque for me once.” Inside Bloom meets his friend Nosey Flynn who engages Davy Byrne in chat and Bloom partakes of his famous “gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Burgundy.” Nosey Flynn then asks Davy Byrne for a tip for the Ascot Gold Cup, to which the proprietor retorts: “I’m off that Mr Flynn, Davy Byrne answered. I never put anything on a horse.”

I thought it was only appropriate for me, as a literary connoisseur, to try the gorgonzola sandwich and Burgundy. The experience was disappointing. The sandwich was cold, the gorgonzola overwhelming and the Burgundy was terrible! I love red wine–this tasted like vinegar. Brian asked them to take it back and bring me something from a new bottle. It was better, but not great. We finished and hurried out.

Since we didn’t have a full dinner at the pub as I had hoped, we decided to find somewhere else to eat. We walked back to the Ha’Penny Bridge, which was lit up at night, for a few pictures when I noticed live music coming from a nearby pub.

Sitting at the entryway to Temple Bar, the Merchant’s Arch pub is fantastic. We found a tiny booth in the back of the room and had one of the best evenings of the trip. The band–a couple guys–were great and played all sort of popular music. Everyone knew every song and sang along, and it was wonderful craic. We had some food and drinks and stayed until it was getting late. I could have stayed all night.

It was the perfect ending to our adventures in Ireland. Until 2025!

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