The Start of Our Tour of the Emerald Isle: Dublin

Ireland is a gorgeous country with some of the nicest people we’ve ever met.  The Irish are proud of their heritage, over 70 million Americans still claim that they are Irish and are proud of those roots.  They were a country of clans, families trying to hold on to their way of life, but in time, Cromwell (arguably the most hated man in Ireland) slaughtered over 200,000 Irish in just nine months as the English began their grip on the Emerald Isle.  The Irish have been through several civil wars, raging a war of their own for independence in the beginning of the 20th century, while also fighting alongside the rest of the world during WWI.  They finally gained their independence from England in 1922 but not without the loss of many.  Civil unrest with England continued all the way into the 1990s.  Despite that tough history, everyone says hello, smiles as you walk by, and you’ll hear the F word more here than any other country, but their past never seems to put a damper on their spirit.

We flew from London to Dublin for a whopping $20 each, and thankful (again!) for our friend, Tom, who dropped us off at the airport for our 9:30 am flight.  We were through customs and on our way to the city center by 11am.  Unfortunately, that meant that we two weary travelers had about four hours to kill before we could check in to our AirB&B. Of course, as we always do, we were out late with our friend Tom the night before our flight.  Luckily we had an extra hour of sleep from daylight savings time (which is a week sooner here than back in the States). But, no difference, we were up way too late. We found a place near our AirB&B, called The Black Sheep, where we sat down for some lunch and waited for check in.  After we were able to check in, we laid down for a nice long nap. We woke up ready to wander Dublin.  This was our second time in Dublin, the Irish are so welcoming, and it was great to be back.  We had some sausages and Guinness stew for supper before stopping at Rua Brewery and Bar for some beers. The town was
full of costumed citizens, really getting in to the spirit of Halloween. The October Bank Holiday was the following day, Monday, so the city was quite busy and the people watching was fantastic.

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Monday came and the city was full of shoppers and visitors who were in town for the extra day off.  We were ready to do our familiar loop of tourist attractions, starting
with Christ’s Church.  The church was built by a Viking king in 1030 after his pilgrimage to Rome, thus making it older than the more famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We then made the short walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  St. Patrick’s was founded in 1191 on a spot believed to be where St. Patrick himself first began baptizing the Viking-Irish people.  It is also the largest cathedral in Ireland.  There we sat down to rest and watch the tons of puppies playing in the park. Abby was even lucky enough to make friends with one pup who kept coming to play with her after chasing sticks with his owner.  After St. Patrick’s, we walked around the Dublin Castle, walked along the River Liffey, and noticed that our hostel from four years ago had a nice face-lift, with a beautiful new paint job and even more charming now than years past. With the afternoon closing in, we walked to the center of town into the Temple Bar. The Temple Bar is the main area, filled with bars and shopping, where most of the city seems to visit.  Even though it is pretty touristy with prices for pints sky high, it is worth a visit.  However, we usually stepped to the outskirts of the city center to find some cheaper pints.  We grabbed some coffees to refresh ourselves after a long day of walking at the Warbler & Wren and set out to have a couple drinks before ending our night.  We stopped in at Hogan’s, a quiet pub that was rocking a full playlist of Fleetwood Mac all night long.  We, of course, couldn’t budge from the great tunes and even better Guinness, so we were there the rest of the evening before returning home.

Museums, like most of Europe, seem to be closed on Mondays, so on Tuesday we started our day at the (free!) Ireland Archaeology Museum.  They had a fascinating display of Irish gold jewelry and explained the act of “hoarding” (burying all of their fortunes in bogs, usually in one spot) from their more Celtic, ancient past.  The all gold Tara Brooch was also on display.  Our favorite part, and most interesting, was the display of several “bog bodies.” Ireland has huge areas of land that are covered with bogs and peet, which work surprisingly well at preserving the remains of people who were buried in them. Most of the bodies we saw were either the product of human sacrifice or were put to death for crimes.  It definitely made the visit to the museum worth it.  After the museum, we got some traditional Irish cawdle (soup) for lunch.  We went to the Long Hall for a few pints before going to a well-known place for dinner called The Church.  This restaurant is just like it sounds, an old cathedral that went into disrepair before a wealthy man bought it, fixed it up, and turned it into a restaurant and night club.  It was such a cool place.  The Church had a rich history: Handel practiced on the organ there, Arthur Guinness got married there, and author Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) was a parishioner there.  And, surprisingly, the pints aren’t expensive and the food is reasonably priced!

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The Irish are such great people and we were super excited to be able to spend a great deal of time exploring the country.  We were here years ago, but were only able to visit Dublin on a one day tour out into the countryside to see some other famous Irish sites.  This time, however, we have four weeks to see as much as possible.  It was great to be back in Dublin, and we were excited to be on our way to Kilkenny.


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