Ireland Day 6 – (Attempting) Dublin In A Day


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.

Outside the College- west Entrance from the street



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.

Ireland Day 5 – First Day in Dublin


We journeyed eastward to Dublin, finally arriving in the big city in the late morning.  After the 2.5 hour drive we successfully navigated our way to the hotel.  Driving into Dublin actually wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be, considering we drove through Galway rush hour a few days ago. If I were to compare Dublin to an American city I’ve been to, I would say that it seems like an older version of Boston.  There’s a lot of old architecture that’s still around a city defined by its history, but you see the modern elements that you find with many big cities.  The canal going down the middle of the city made for some pretty pictures along the Ha’penny Bridge.


In the middle of O’Connell Street there was a cool monument called The Spire of Dublin, which made for an awesome picture of the city.


The city was also a bit overwhelming, and it did take us a while to get acclimated with navigating the city, thus only got to do two big things on our first day: The Guinness Brewery and our music pub crawl.

The Guinness Brewery was basically “Beer Disneyland” and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory rolled into one.  You end up touring the Storehouse, a multi-level museum of the brewery and the beer making process.  My Fort Collins micro-brewery tour experience had prepared me for understanding how beer is brewed, but it was fascinating seeing the way the elements were presented inside this big building. For the ingredient of water, they had an awesome fountain that made some for great pictures.



What we’ve heard was right: Guinness does taste differently here in Ireland, moreover it tastes differently in Dublin, and it tastes even better at the Guinness brewery right out of the tap of freshly brewed beer.  I have definitely developed a taste for Guinness and have had the chance to refine it over the last few days.  At the Storehouse, I used my included pint to participate in the “Perfect Pour” tutorial, where I got to stand behind the bar and pour the perfect pint.  It was a neat experience and not a bad way to taste your pint.



We then went up to the top level “Gravity Bar”, which in Willy Wonka form is basically the Great Glass Elevator of the Storehouse.  This top-floor bar has a 360 degree view of the Dublin Cityscape, giving some breathtaking scenery while you enjoyed your fresh beer.  Having drank my pint downstairs, Bethany was kind enough to share her beer with me.



By the time we finished at the Storehouse, our afternoon was pretty much over. We took the bus and walked back to our hotel so that we could get ready for the Musical Pub Crawl.

If you’re ever in Dublin, I definitely would suggest doing this experience.  While initially it seemed a little tourist-y (pretty much everyone attending was American), we were blown away by the talent of the two musicians that led the crawl.  The best part about this was that they explained some of the differences in Irish music and musicianship in terms that a musician would understand.  I learned why as a drummer,  I would make a lousy Celtic Bodhran Drum player.  They talked about what stylistically gave Irish music its traits, and what instrumentation made up this type of music.



Our crawl included stops at three bars, the last of which used to be an old convent (check out the curved stain glass window behind us in the picture below).  A few pints, songs and stories later we had realized that it was now after 10pm and we had yet to eat dinner.  We ended up walking back from O’Connell Street back to the Temple Bar, where we ate in the third story of this pub-restaurant and made our way back home.  By that time we were tired, out of beer and ready for bed.


We are going to spend one more day in Dublin before we head back home Thursday night, and are hoping now that we have our bearings that we should be able to do a little more sightseeing (and more pictures) as well.