This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin! Though it was only for a short time, I’m really glad I was able to see a little bit of Ireland and get back on the road!!
My flight from Dublin was very quick and cheap (thanks Ryanair!), and once I arrived, I took a shuttle bus from the airport into the city center. I stayed right on the River Liffey, near the Temple Bar area. When I arrived I realized how hungry I was, so I asked the hostel staff for recommendations, who told me about the Brazen Head pub, which was around the corner from the hostel. Apparently, this is the oldest pub in Ireland, founded in the 1100s!! Crazy. To be honest, throughout my travels I haven’t really immersed myself in the nightlife because I’ve been a little scared, especially since I’m travelling on my own. But, it’s Dublin, and there are hundreds and hundreds of pubs, so I thought I should at least experience one. I made a pretty good choice, too! It was super neat and also super packed. I almost couldn’t find a table, and when I did, I felt bad because it was so big and I was taking up the whole table. So, a little later when a couple asked me if they could join, I happily said yes! They were travelling from Belgium so it was neat to talk with them. And of course, having some company was a lot better than being completely on my own! I had a great time. The food itself was delicious, especially considering it was pub food, and it was reasonably priced as well. Unfortunately, I’m not a beer drinker, otherwise I would have had some Guinness which they offer everywhere (this was also the reason I decided to skip the Guinness Storehouse tour, though I’ve heard it is amazing). I opted for a cocktail instead. Also, the server was from Canada and actually knew of my hometown!! What a crazy coincidence. After hanging out for awhile I decided it was time to go. I was pretty tired and debated heading back to the hostel, but when I got outside it was STILL light out at 8:30 pm, so I decided I should walk around a bit.
I headed down the Liffey boardwalk and looked around some of the streets. It was a nice area to stroll along, and later I walked historic O’Connell street, housing many stores now, but which used to be a site of struggle during the Easter Rising of 1916. The Easter Rising was Ireland’s fight for independence from Britain, and 2016 marks the centennial celebration, so Dublin has a lot of posters and flags commemorating it all over town. (I even glimpsed a bit of a parade the next day when I was heading out of the city). One particular place on O’Connell street, the General Post Office, was used as a way to transmit information to others through letter writing, as well as being a site of struggle. Apparently there are also bullet holes in the walls!
The next day, I got up early so I could get as much sight-seeing in as possible. After a free breakfast (yay!) I was on my way, exploring the city by foot. First I passed by the Christ Church Cathedral, a massively wonderful building (though I didn’t go inside). Next I headed to St. Patrick’s cathedral and grounds, just to check it out. It was alright, but if I had to pick one, I would go with the Christ Church cathedral; it simply intrigued me more. Following this, I went to St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely park filled with flowers that also played a role in the Easter Rising. Statues and plaques are throughout the park, describing the historical role the park played in the Easter Rising. It was lovely to stroll through. I headed to Merrion’s Square park after, but unfortunately it was closed. It looked like a lovely park as well.
Afterwards, I headed back to the centre of the city to go to Trinity College, one of the oldest colleges in Dublin that has a really nice campus. However, its main claim to fame is housing the Book of Kells. The lineup was pretty long but it moved fairly quickly. Before seeing the book itself, there is an exhibit detailing how the book was made and by whom (plus details about other books similar to this produced at about the same time). There are also details about specific, elaborately decorated pages of the book, which is neat to look at since the book itself is only open to a few pages. The book is in a separate room, and was much smaller than I expected. It had two of the four gospels contained in the Book, each open to specific pages. It was pretty interesting to see (but unfortunately no photography allowed). Afterwards, you can go upstairs to the Long Room, an old library housing tons of books. It has two storeys, and its in the old style, where you need a ladder to get the books on the top shelves. It also contains many busts of prominent literary figures, plus artifacts from the Easter Rising. Super cool to see, definitely a site worth checking out.
Next on my list was Dublin Castle, though I didn’t go for the castle itself, but rather to wander around and check out the (free!) Chester Beatty library. This two-storey library contains manuscripts from Chester Beatty’s collection, which include very fine works from Asia and Europe, plus details of how many of them were made. The library also has a section featuring artifacts and descriptions of each of the world’s main religions, which was pretty cool.
After seeing these incredible sights, I debated staying in the city centre or heading out of the city a bit, and I decided to do the latter. I had heard of Killiney Hill on another blog and it looked really beautiful, so I decided to check it out. I took the nearby DART train station and headed to Killiney, where you can access Killiney Hill (I believe you can also access Killiney Hill from the Dalkey DART station). After 30 minutes on the DART, I was next to the SEA!! So cool. Hiking Killiney Hill itself was interesting. It was basically a very windy residential road for the majority of the way up. (I speculate that starting from Dalkey may be a more scenic route up the hill.) However, once I got to the hill itself, I was almost at the top. And it sure didn’t disappoint! The views were absolutely incredible!! The hill itself is covered in grass and flowers, you can see behind you towards Killiney, and in front of you is the beautiful sea. Words and photos cannot capture how wonderful this place was, and I am so glad I took the time to come check it out!! I would definitely recommend spending some time out of the city center near the sea for those who are hoping to visit Dublin. I wish I could have spent a lot of time there, but unfortunately I had to head back into the city and go to the airport.
Though my time in Dublin was fleeting, it was definitely still an experience that I will cherish. I really hope that I can come back to Ireland some day and explore more of its incredible seaside. I would say the top places to visit in the city centre include the River Liffey and O’Connell street, St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College and the Book of Kells, and a pub! Or many pubs!! Dublin definitely has a lot of pubs to offer, so it is worth checking different ones out for the experiences they can provide. If you have the time, I would also suggest heading out of the city center to explore the seaside, because it offers a different perspective and environment than the city which is truly rewarding. I hope those of you who do venture to Dublin, or Ireland in general, enjoy your time as much as I did!