Since we moved, Joe has been pushing for a trip to Ireland. He really wanted to get back to his “motherland” and search for his ancestors…. although we were unsuccessful, we really enjoyed our first trip to Dublin. More on the failing to find relatives later….
To kick-off our trip we headed to Wexford Street, which was just a short work from where we were staying in The Liberties neighborhood. Wexford Street felt just like a college strip – bar after bar and lots of young people on the streets. It was super lively on a Friday night, so we tried our best to find a pub with no queue. We nipped into a place called Ryan’s which was flooded with an after work crowd who was determined to keep the party going throughout the night. We found a place to sit and people watch (our fave activity in new cities) and drank a few whiskeys to get us in the Irish spirit before calling it a night.
Saturday morning called for an early departure so we headed off towards the city center to find some breakfast. Although Joe was determined to have a full Irish, it wasn’t in our cards. BUT we did find a really cute bakery / tea room, Peacock Green. We shared a quiche and almond croissant in a cozy upstairs nook. We had to make it quick in order to make it to our 10am reservation at the Guinness Storehouse. Beer time 🙂
Joe and I both were a tad bit hesitant to do this tour due to the fact that we heard from multiple people that it is pretty much the busiest and most crowded tourist attraction in Dublin. To our surprise, it was virtually empty that early and we were able to easily navigate the museum at our own pace. I was actually pretty impressed with the tour (I think because my expectations were low….). It was super interesting to learn about the process of how Guinness is made. I also personally loved learning more about the history of the beer and the different variations they have (only 3!). Joe enjoyed the advertising exhibit and of course both of us enjoyed the tasting room. It’s pretty cool, they have these little stands that exude steam of all different smells – hops, wheat, barley, etc… and also as many little Guinness guys as you can handle. The final stop was The Gravity Bar – a 360 degree bar of floor-to-ceiling windows at the top floor of the storehouse. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a bartender, who had two fresh, complimentary pints which was a perfect end to our tour. We also took advantage of the amazing views of Dublin and majorly overloaded on selfies.
If there’s one thing Joe and I have seen a lot of in Europe, it’s churches. Dublin had plenty to offer and our first stop was Christ Church. This medieval cathedral is smack dab in the middle of a huge intersection, and impossible to miss. It is the tipping off point to Dublin tourist attractions and is a beautiful place to start. The interior was amazing and still stuns me that this magnificent place was built in 1028! The next spiritual stop is St.Patrick’s Cathedral, which is about 700+ years older then the one we all know in NYC. St. Patrick’s is the host to many of Ireland’s days of remembrance, and is most commonly used as a WWI memorial site. There are many dedications to priests, clergy men, and war heroes spread throughout many of the smaller chapels within it. Another interesting fact we learned is that for many years there was confrontation between Christ Church and St.Patrick’s due to the fact that it is very rare for a city to have 2 cathedrals. The original plan was for St.Patrick’s to replace Christ Church, but when that didn’t happen, they were forced to work together and act as one unified church going forward.
We then took a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green which was such a stunning park! It felt like our first taste of fall with all of the leaves starting to turn from green to orange and yellow. We made sure to exit at Grafton Street, a claim to fame for Dublin. This is their famous shopping street, and as mentioned in previous posts, is one of those pedestrian only streets that are so common in Europe, so it is just FILLED with people walking to and from. We just did some sightseeing and wandered down a few cobblestone side streets until we ended up on the outskirts of Temple Bar. It was just about lunch time for us so we ducked in to this little hole in the wall (literally!) seafood joint I had seen all over Instagram called Klaw. While part of us wanted to indulge in some shrimp and oysters, we were a little cold, so opted for a chowder and lobster roll instead. Joe went for their bloody mary and reiterated for the next hour that it was the best one he’s had in Europe.
There were still some pretty important Dublin sites to hit, so once we devoured our chowder, the adventure continued. We stopped by the Molly Malone Statue, St.Andrew’s Church, and the Irish Houses of Parliament. Across the street from that is Trinity College. We entered through Regent House and found ourselves in the middle of Parliament Square. From here there is an incredible (and picture perfect) view of The Campanile of Trinity College with Library Square as your backdrop. This bell tower is an iconic Dublin landmark, and truly adds to the quintessential, classic college campus feel. I forced Joe to buy tickets to the Old Library so we could see the place that everyone talks about it. The Book of Kells is also on exhibition which was way cooler than expected. It is the world’s most famous medieval manuscript and dates back to the 9th century. This book contains the 4 Gospels of Jesus and is considered “Ireland’s most greatest treasure”. It was incredible to see how detailed and beautiful the pages were. The colours were still so vivid and we both enjoyed learning about the symbolism behind certain drawings. I loved The Long Room of the Old Library – it felt like all of those movies you watch where students study in their college library. All wood and lined with over 200,000 books. There are also marble busts of famous philosophers, writers, and artists along the perimeter, which truly adds to historic feeling of this place. This was definitely the highlight of our Dublin trip for me! To nobody’s surprise, Joe’s was the Guinness tour.
Next we hit the infamous Ha’penny Bridge, another popular landmark of Dublin City. It is a footbridge that goes over the River Liffey and connects Temple Bar to the Northside area of Dublin. FYI – we learned from our Uber driver on Friday night that Dublin is separated into the “Northside” and the “Southside” (with the River Liffey acting as the dividing line). There has been a longstanding history of which side is better, and depending on where you are from, you have your reasons. Seems like everyone gets along these days, but my gut tells me the Southside is the place to be….
We stopped into Butler’s for some Salted Caramel coffee and a chocolate, the perfect afternoon pick me up. This was the final fuel we needed to conquer our last bit of Dublin. I had heard from an Irish co-worker that I had to get to a store called Avoca. It was the cutest home & gift shop with an amazing cafe and market attached. I wish I had more time to spend in there, but ladies, do yourself a favor and stop in. It will meet all your shopping cravings in a rather lackluster city for your fashion needs 🙂 We walked back and stopped by Dublin Castle. We were absolutely exhausted at this point, so we decided to call it a day and spent the next half hour or so just sitting in the Dublin Garden just behind it.
Although we did everything we planned on in terms of sightseeing, Joe and I still had the itch for a truly authentic Irish experience. The only thing missing from our trip was enjoying some live music, so we headed to Temple Bar in search of some traditional Irish jams. Temple Bar is an extremely popular and touristy area lined with pubs and restaurants and tons of people pouring into the streets. We literally just followed the sound of music (hehe) and found ourselves at The Oliver St.John Gogarty. There was an amazing band playing a mix of Irish jigs and American covers. We had the best time singing and dancing along while of course enjoying some pints of Guinness. We also made a pit stop at The Temple Bar before dinner because how could you go to Dublin and not stop here?! Keeping with our hardcore Irish evening, we had dinner at Gallagher’s Boxty House. Boxty is a typical Irish food which is basically a potato pancake. The fun part is all of the different types of fillings you can get in a boxty (PS – anyone who knows me knows I never met a potato I didn’t like….). Joe and I went with a traditional Gaelic boxty filled with beef, mushrooms and cream sauce….. delicious but holy heavy! We justified the heavy eating with all the heavy Guinness drinking the Irish do. Makes sense, right?!
After dinner we decided to go to Ireland’s most famous live music venue, Whelan’s. Although it was a cool, historic spot, we were disappointed that it was more of a rock band than Irish music, so we just stayed for a quick drink and left for the next bar. While at our next stop, we were reflecting on our trip to Dublin when we realized we never found a McGlynn’s Pub. I always knew I wanted to be Irish, so marrying Joe was a no-brainer, and finding a pub or restaurant that incorporated the McGlynn name was a must! (And more important to me now that we share the same surname…. finally I’m fake Irish!) After some quick Googling, we were bummed to find out there were absolutely NO McGlynn establishments in the city. There was a Glynn’s and a McGettigan’s, but no McGlynn’s. We did manage to to find a McGlynn’s used car dealership about 15 minutes outside of the city, but Joe didn’t know if he wanted documentation that this is what his ancestors left behind…. hahaha. Good news is that we have plans to visit other parts of Ireland, so there is still hope!
On our way to the airport on Sunday we stopped at Meet Me in the Morning (MMITM) for a quick breakfast. This little restaurant/bakery is located in what I would describe as a hipster area and is such a cute spot. It’s a totally minimalistic cafe, white walls and wood furniture, barely any decorations and totally no frills. The food was amazing and I loaded up on my last heaping batch of potatoes with an incredible hash topped with poached eggs. Although this was the final stop of our Dublin trip, it wouldn’t be the last time I spoke about this place. A side story is that apparently I dropped my WALLET as I was getting into a cab outside of MMITM, and one of the staff members found it. They immediately called my bank to let them know that they had it, and Barclay’s called me within minutes to alert me that my card was safe and sound. I called the restaurant and profusely thanked the employee who was holding on to all of this important stuff for me. He insisted on mailing me the wallet first thing Monday morning. It arrived promptly 3 days later and when I tried to repay him for the postage, he refused. I’m incredibly appreciative of Brian and his determination to return my belongings to me! I can’t imagine what I would do if I had to put together all the pieces of a lost wallet in a foreign country I don’t even live in (cue the panic). Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about that & am chalking it up to gaining the luck of the Irish during this trip 🙂