Being of Irish and Scottish descent, the Irish leg of this trip had always been my priority for coming to the British Isles. We were originally going to spend a couple weeks in Ireland in spring 2020 to start nine weeks in Europe, but we all know what happened to travel in the early pandemic. As such, four nights in Dublin and a couple in Galway would have to suffice as our introduction to the Emerald Isle.
I had intended to get our summer 2022 UK and Ireland trip journal posts finished by the end of September, but for reasons of primarily laziness and forgetfulness, mid-September has suddenly become early January 2023. As such, I suspect the writing will be less descriptive and the Dublin and Galway posts will lean more on photos.
One story that does stick out is our flight from Edinburgh to Dublin and the scotch incident. The scotch first. On this trip we finally had come to understand why people like good whisky. Connie had bought a small, 200ml bottle of some lovely expensive peaty stuff in Aviemore. While we did check our backpacks for this flight due to Aer Lingus’s overly-restrictive carry-on limits, neither one of us thought about the 100ml carry-on fluid limits and hadn’t packed said scotch in either of our bags. As such, one lucky airport staffer got a very nice gift, as we had to leave it behind at the Edinburgh airport security gates.
Adding insult to injury, Aer Lingus was having flight kittens and sadly, our trip was no different. Allowing for arriving early at the airport and a flying time of 75 minutes or so, including transit to the airport we were thinking the trip would take maybe four hours total. The plane ended up delayed three hours and, once transit to/from the airports were factored in, plus a total of five hours sitting at the airport and the 90 minute flight, the trip clocked in at double our four hour estimate. It was an unexpectedly long day, but happily the first transport issue we encountered at all on the trip. Between the nightmares some airports were seeing with flight delays and dodging rotating National Rail strikes in the UK, we were actually still doing pretty well, even if our whisky pride was injured.
Upon arriving in any new place, we usually like to drop our bags at the room and get out for a stroll in the area we’ll be staying. In this case we booked another Premier Inn (Dublin City Centre – Temple Bar). It’s a very lively area of the city and where a lot of eating, drinking and shopping establishments are located. As you can see from the adjacent photo, it was early evening and the area pubs were overflowing onto the street. People were everywhere, with no restrictions to only patios and glass pints in hand. While I’m sure things do get out of hand at times, it all felt very civilized and I can’t recall witnessing one thing I’d call problematic. As with London and Edinburgh, masks anywhere were virtually nonexistent.
Four Nights in Dublin
What follows will probably be roughly in chronological order, since I’m using my Google Photos to help recall what we did. Given that I can’t write a detailed narrative this long after the trip, I’m going post a couple notes but mostly let a few photos do the talking. I expect these Irish posts to be shorter than their UK counterparts, covering the major things we saw.
Dublin is Guinness
As with previous posts, I’m trying to come up with a single word to personify each place we stayed. For Dublin, it’s definitely Guinness. You really don’t get a sense of how massive this company and its grip on Irish drinking is until you visit Dublin. The beer is in absolutely every – and I do mean every – pub (that we visited anyway), and as you’ll see a little later, the brewery and its land footprint in the city is massive. By the way, this is in no way a negative thing to me. Irish Guinness is almost to die for.
Oh, and just a brief note that one of the absolute coolest things about Dublin is that every public sign – streets, informational, whatever – is bilingual, in English and Irish. Loved the effort to keep Irish alive.
Distance on foot in Dublin: 49.4km over four days of walking and one run
Dublin Castle & Dubh Linn Garden
When we did our initial stroll in the city centre on our first full day, we happened upon Dubh Linn Garden, which we didn’t know at the time was attached to Dublin Castle.
Constructed in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland.Via https://www.dublincastle.ie
Christ Church Cathedral
If you’ve read any of the other posts from this trip, then you’ll know there’s at least one (if not more) obligatory visit to a cathedral or abbey and Dublin was no different. Christ Church Cathedral has stood in central Dublin for nearly 1000 years.
The earliest manuscript dates Christ Church Cathedral to its present location around 1030. Dúnán, the first bishop of Dublin and Sitriuc, Norse king of Dublin, founded the original Viking church, which was probably subject to the archbishop of Canterbury.Via https://christchurchcathedral.ie/about/history/
Teeling Whiskey Tasting
St. Stephen’s Green
Probably the largest urban park in central Dublin by a long shot, it’s a beautiful place for a stroll or to just sit on the grass and watch swans float by. St. Stephen’s Green was opened to the public in 1880, but it seems it has been around since the mid-1600s.
Kilmainham Gaol & Hospital Gardens
These things aren’t actually attached to each other, but they’re in very close proximity west of the city centre and at the foot of massive Phoenix Park (which we didn’t actually get to). The jail (gaol) in particular was a key attraction for me. Ever since my first viewing of In the Name of the Father, I’d wanted to visit it.
From the 1798 rebellion, to the 1916 Easter Rising, the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21), to the devastation of the Irish Civil War (1922-23) all these important events have a chapter in the story of Kilmainham Gaol.Via https://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie/
The gardens are really just something you can walk through on the east side of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) between where we stayed and the gaol. Bonus, there’s a little historic mill storefront about a block from the gaol called, fittingly enough, Kilmainham Mills. Water power grain and textile milling apparently took place here from at least the sixteenth century continuously until 1994.
Guinness Storehouse Tour
As I said in the intro, nothing dominates Dublin like Guinness. You can get it everywhere and the brewery is massive. It’s almost like a small city unto itself and stretches for blocks. Really though, most of it is nondescript sandstone type buildings with small roads. The central tourist attraction is the Guinness Storehouse, a multi-level living history of the brewery, with a 360 degree windowed taproom in the shape of a flat number 8 on top to enjoy a pint at the end. In fact, the tour included your first pint.
About the only thing I’ll say about drinking Guinness in Ireland is that it really is like a completely different beer there. Richer, smoother, with a beautiful nitro head that forces pours to be slow and sit before being topped off.
EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum
My grandparents on my mother’s side, Edward and Molly Willis, emigrated from Dublin in 1912. Since my dad was originally from Montreal and met my mom in Calgary in the early 60s, it’s safe to say, had the Willises not come to Canada, I wouldn’t be here.
I was completely unaware of EPIC prior to reading up on things to do while in Dublin, and I’m glad I did the research. Canadian emigration from Ireland has been significant over the years and this was a really incredible attraction. Easily top three in Dublin, if not on the entire trip.
You won’t find leprechauns or pots of gold here, but you will discover that what it means to be Irish expands far beyond the borders of Ireland through the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets, artists and even outlaws all over the world. Discover Ireland from the outside in and find out why saying “I’m Irish” is one of the biggest conversation starters, no matter where you are.Via https://epicchq.com/
We’d hit EPIC in the first part of our last full day in Dublin, so after we were done and had fed ourselves at a mall nearby, we ventured east to Dublin Docklands to explore the ocean port area. We looped south and found another location of Brewdog, a large but excellent craft brewery that’s one of, if not the, biggest in the UK and Ireland. We discovered them in Edinburgh and were instantly fans.
My Obligatory Run
When I travel I try to do at least one decent run in every place I stay. On our final evening in Dublin, I did a lovely loop that began and ended at our hotel, looping south along the canal bordering the Portobello district.
Random Thoughts & Pics
For the most part, I think I’ve covered the flavour of our Dublin stay above, and a lot of my random thoughts about it are similar to other stops on our trip. The history everywhere you turn, the lovely little pedestrian-only and traffic-light streets, the general walkability and bike-friendliness … I’ll just close with a few random street and canal pics from our daily walking.
Next up, our UK and Ireland trip would come to a close with a couple nights in Galway and environs.