After a full night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, we set out to take in as much as we could of Dublin before 4pm (when we tried to beat traffic out). We did this by going on one of those hop-on/hop-off tour busses that narrates each of the sights, then when you see something you’d like you can jump off and catch another bus later. We did a lap around Dublin and got the lay of the land and determined what we’d like to see. We had already seen some of the big things in the previous day: O’Connell Street (and the Spire of Dublin), The Guinness Brewery, and Temple Bar. There were a few things we wanted to see that would be too big to tackle, and I really wanted to do the Jameson Distillery (but didn’t want to drink Whiskey at 10:30am) so we picked our battles: Trinity College and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
We started off at Trinity College, Dublin’s only university, which was founded in 1592. We mainly walked around the inner part of the campus and admired some of the architecture. There were definitely some newer buildings there, making it difficult to determine what has been there for what period of time. We actually didn’t get a chance to go into the Library as there was a charge for it. Bethany’s parents took the gamble and paid off, as they were in line when they were about to close and got in for free. We still got some nice pictures outside the buildings.
After our visiting the College we embarked on a personal mission of mine since before we set foot in Dublin – finding Cuban cigars! Since Ireland does not have the same trade embargo, the cigars are readily available here, so I was eager to see if they are worth the hype. We found a cigar shop along Grafton Street, a cobblestone shopping center. We then met up for lunch at Temple Bar, and then set out to go see St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
I have to be honest: we were a bit let down by the Cathedral. While the architecture was beautiful, I was expecting the inside to be a little more tranquil – similar to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Unfortunately, the Cathedral was more of a museum, that housed various memories and statues and busts of prominent figures in the Cathedral’s history. While this was very interesting, I was disappointed it wasn’t a more prayerful experience. We still got some great pictures of inside the Cathedral.
Running out of time, we hiked quickly across town back to our hotel to depart before rush hour. It still took quite a while to get out of Dublin, but we luckily had a pleasant drive after leaving the city.
Overall I liked Dublin, but it definitely has the characteristics shared by most big cities: congestion, traffic, noise – a far cry from the countryside that we’ve been experiencing throughout the week. If we were to do this trip over again, I would likely had added another day in Dublin. There were a few things (like the Kilmainham Gaol Prison) that would have been fascinating to see, and I think we would have enjoyed another nights in the lively pubs. Yesterday we ran into some Americans from Virginia that had stayed in the country side for five days and were now going to do Dublin for 5 days – I don’t think I could have imagined being in the city for that long. Nonetheless, our time in Dublin gave me a deep appreciation for the peace and quiet we’ve seen along the countryside.
We made it back to East Clare where we enjoyed our Cubans. The cigars are definitely worth the hype. They were much smoother than the Dominican ones I’ve tried on previous vacations, and didn’t have the nasty aftertaste. Also they made canned Guinness taste better.
One thing I haven’t talked about is just how long the days in Ireland are. Given Ireland’s northern position on the globe, it gets light here early in the morning, but it doesn’t get dark until after 10pm. Here is the sky outside our cottage at 10:15pm:
After going full-steam for nearly a week, Friday is going to be a day of rest in East Clare. I have some random thoughts to post tomorrow, and should hopefully have some pictures to share, but I’m definitely looking forward to a day of relaxation.