I was really excited for our trip to Ireland. Everyone that has been to Ireland that we’ve talked to has always had glowing reviews. Most people advised us to spend most of our time outside of Dublin exploring the countryside. We decided to take that advice and of the 8 days we were spending in Ireland, we spent 6 of them driving around the country. We didn’t want to completely ignore Dublin though so we took a couple of days to see the sights. Dublin is famous for Guinness, Jameson, its architecture, its famous authors and playwrights, and its pubs. We got in late from London and just checked in to our Airbnb and went to bed.
Our first full day in Dublin we went and had lunch at Parnell Heritage Pub. I got some fish and chips and Diem got a stew. After lunch, we took our own walking tour of Dublin. There was a lot of construction down on the main street in the center of Dublin. We first saw this long narrow pole that was right outside the main bus station. It seemed a little strange but we found out that it was called The Spire of Dublin, alternatively titled the Monument of Light. Is a large, stainless steel, pin-like 398 ft in height, located on the site of the former Nelson's Pillar on O'Connell Street in Dublin, Ireland. Next, we walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is the largest church in Ireland. It costs 6 euro to go inside the cathedral so we just walked around the exterior and took some pictures. There is a nice open grassy area with flowers adjacent to the cathedral where we hung out for a bit before moving on. We also walked through Trinity College which had a beautiful campus but we decided not to see the Book of Kells.
A number of National Museums in Dublin are free and being on a budget, we decided to take advantage. We first went to the National Gallery of Ireland where they were having an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci Drawings. They wouldn’t let us take pictures but the drawings were really interesting. They were sketches of different body parts, internal organs, animal parts, and a map. To me, the drawings demonstrated his curiosity of the human body and his training to develop the skills to sculpt and/or paint different body parts and animals. We also went to the National Museum of Archeology which had artifacts from ancient people of Ireland including weapons, pottery, and housing relics. Our favorite museum we visited was the National Museum of Ireland Natural History. Here, there are two floors of a variety of stuffed animals and skeletons. The first floor had more insects, sea creatures and more ancient creatures and the second floor had more mammals including lions, tigers, rhinos, bears, and monkeys. The animals are really beautiful and very life-like.
After all those museums we needed a drink. We went to the Temple Bar area of town and to the Temple Bar Pub which is a famous pub established in 1840 and which is famous for its live Irish Music. We had a pint of Guinness and Kilkenny, respectively while listening to some Irish music and people watching. We had dinner nearby at Storehouse Temple Bar. After dinner, we decided to go to a Couchsurfing Event at Darkey Kelly’s Pub. It was a little awkward at first but we eventually ended up having a good conversation with some French girls. We headed home around 11:00 PM but most of Dublin was just getting started. We are too old to have too many late nights so we went to bed.
The next day we got a late start and had lunch at Kavanaugh pub. After lunch we tried going to the prison Kilmainham Gaol but it was sold out. Originally public hangings took place at the front of the prison. However, from the 1820s onward very few hangings, public or private, took place at Kilmainham. There was no segregation of prisoners; men, women and children were incarcerated up to 5 in each cell, with only a single candle for light and heat. Most of their time was spent in the cold and the dark, and each candle had to last for two weeks. Kilmainham was a site of incarceration of every significant Irish nationalist leader of both the constitutional and physical force traditions. Thus, its history as an institution is intimately linked with the story of Irish nationalism. Dublin and Ireland was celebrating its centennial of the Easter Rising. The Easter Rising was an insurrection, mostly in Dublin city, that lasted from April 24th until April 30th 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in World War I. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798, and the first armed action of the Irish revolutionary period. The prison worker told us that the prison was selling out pretty much every day because of the centennial.
We made our way back toward downtown Dublin and went to the self-guided tour at Guinness Storehouse. Entrance costs $16 and storehouse has a number of exhibits going over the history of Guinness, a tasting room going over the different aspects of the brewing process, and lastly a free pint at the rooftop bar giving you a panoramic view of Dublin. The tasting room had these cool clouds of different aromas of different ingredients of Guinness. The rooftop bar was pretty crowded and Dublin doesn’t have that great of a skyline so we didn’t stay that long. The Guinness Storehouse wasn’t too spectacular to us. It was basically a $16 pint of Guinness with some exhibits that seemed more geared toward kids than adults.
After the beer, we wanted whiskey as a chaser so we headed to the tour at Jameson. The Jameson tour started with a video of a quick history of Jon Jameson and Jameson Whiskey. Next, the tour guide took us around to different exhibits that showed the different stages of the Jameson Whiskey making process. The guide was pretty funny and the tour was more informative and interesting than the Guinness tour. At the end, we got to taste Jameson and compare it to Jack Daniels and Jim Bean Whiskey. I’m not a huge whiskey drinker but from the taste test, Jameson was a lot smoother than the other two. We also got our choice of a shot of Jameson or a whiskey ginger drink which was delightful. For dinner, we went to Lotts and got their special of a steak and a bottle of wine. The steak came out rare on a sizzling plate and you could let it cook for as long as you want. The steak itself was OK, it was a little tough but it was still a pretty good deal at a nice little restaurant.
The next day we left early to go on our 6 day road trip of Ireland and Northern Ireland. To be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with Dublin. Part of that had to do with the construction everywhere and I think part of it had to do with the limited time we had to experience what life is like in Dublin day-to-day. Looking back, I think I would echo most people’s advice for anyone visiting Ireland and say to spend most of your time outside of Dublin. Not to say that Dublin is that bad, it’s just that the Irish countryside is so much more beautiful and worthwhile than spending time in another capital city.
See the full gallery of our short Dublin trip here: Dublin, Ireland.