Haven’t posted in a while because I have been so busy traveling but it has been great! A few weekends ago I was able to go to Ireland… the homeland!
After my business class ended for the period, our professor invited us for drinks at the bar on campus, where we got to say our thanks and say goodbye to our classmates. From here I ran to grab my backpack from my apartment and head to the airport meet Anna and Nicole and catch our flight to Ireland. We arrived pretty late in Dublin and took a taxi over to Anna’s friend’s apartment, who was kind enough to let us crash at her place which was in an old monastery, for the weekend and went straight to bed.
The next day we had scheduled a tour of the Guinness Storehouse and the Kilmainham Jail. We grabbed breakfast crepes at a little café near the apartment called Le Petit Brenton and caught a taxi over to the brewery. Our taxi driver was the nicest man who had lived in Dublin his entire life and gave us a mini tour of the city on the way. The Guinness Storehouse is MASSIVE. It is seven stories in a circular set up, surrounding a “glass” of Guinness, which if real, would fit 14.3 million liters of Guinness.
Some other fun facts from the tour:
- Guinness is brewed right in Dublin with water from the Wicklow Mountains
- 100,000 tons of barley are used every year to make Guinness
- The Guinness family shaped the city of Dublin providing jobs and St. Stephen’s Green
- Arthur Guinness and his wife Olivia had 21 children but only 11 lived past the first few years of their lives
- The brewery is one of the most advanced and sustainable breweries in the world
- “One or Toucan Do” is the slogan behind the use of a toucan in Guinness ads
- Guinness pairs well with oysters
- One of their ads to get women to drink Guinness was “A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle”
The tour finished at a 360-degree Sky Bar which has views of the city and points out places of interest for you to view while enjoying a Guinness, complements of the tour.
Afterwards we took a short walk to Kilmainham Jail. The jail is famous for the many political prisoners who did time there. Many of the prisoners were in for petty crimes and only spent a few weeks or months there which meant there was always an overload of prisoners in poor conditions. Being an advanced jail for its time, only 15 people out of the 150,000 over 100 years were able to escape.
Ireland has many famous writers, with Oscar Wilde being one of the most loved. There were some of his quotes around the museum of the jail, a few that resonated with me were:
“Every stone one lifts by day becomes one’s heart by night.”
“And sleep will not lay down, but walks wild-eyed, and cries to time.”
After our tours, we headed over to the Temple Bar district and grabbed dinner at The Quays, I got fish and chips with a local Kilkenny beer which I enjoyed very much. After dinner, we went out in search of a liquor store to have something to drink before going out to the bars with our host Meaghan. In Ireland, they are called an “off-license” and you have to go to a counter and place your order which is then slid to you through a drawer after you pay through the window. Once we were ready for the night we headed back to the Temple Bar district and went to Dame Tavern where I tried a Smithwicks beer (pronounced “Smidicks”). We went to a few more bars before heading home, a typical Irish night.
The next morning, we planned to wake up early to take the train to Galway to see the Cliffs of Moher, sadly it was really cloudy and we weren’t sure if we would be able to see them. The train was two hours west to Galway through Irish farmlands, trust me, there are more sheep out there than you would ever need to count to fall asleep for the rest of your life. When we finally got out there we found out that the last tour of the cliffs had just left and our only other option would be to take the public transportation out that left in 45 minutes. The only problem was that it would not get us back to Galway in time to catch the last train back to Dublin for the night. Making a split-second decision to stay in Galway for the night we asked the hostel across from the train station if they had room for us, unfortunately they did not, BUT the girl working the hostel desk was so kind and called a lady down the street named Betty who ran an B&B and asked if she could put us up for the night. Thankfully she had a room and put a cot in there for use to stay.
Shortly after we caught the bus out to the Cliffs. The ride out there was absolute HELL. Imagine a coach bus navigating narrow country roads that hadn’t recently been paved on the edge of a cliff for over two hours. I was more car sick than I had ever been in my life. There was no bathroom on board. I completely emptied my purse and had all my belongings on the seat next to me with my bag ready to throw up in. My entire body was shaking and when I asked the driver if he would let me get out at one of the stops for a minute for fresh air, he was very hesitant. Luckily, I was able to hold it together until we got to the cliffs and got some water in me and began to feel better.
I’m glad I was able to overcome the motion sickness for a little because the cliffs were absolutely stunning. The sun had just come out as we arrived at the cliffs taking my breath away. I could see the beams of sunlight coming down and illuminating the cliffs rising out of the open ocean. We walked around, trying not to be blown away by the winds or slip off the edge for a couple of hours before having to get on the last bus back to Galway. The whole time I was dreading getting back on the bus in fear of more car sickness. THANKFULLY we had a different bus driver who took a much more paved route through Ennis.
When we got back to Galway, we were exhausted but wanted to appreciate the music and nightlife Galway is known for so we headed to Quay Bar, on Quay Street ironically. At the bar, there was a little band playing great songs to sing along to so we each decided to grab one beer and hang out for a bit before heading back to Betty’s B&B. We all slept so soundly that night.
In the morning, we wanted to get a chance to see Galway so we woke up early and Betty made us a home cooked breakfast of eggs and pancakes. We walked back down Quay Street and went to see the Spanish Arch, the Cathedral and Eyre Square. On the train back to Dublin, everyone was talking about a huge hurricane due to hit Ireland the next day, Monday. It was assumed to be the largest storm to hit Ireland in over 5o years, all schools in the entire country were canceled.
When we got back to Dublin, we went to meet up with my friend Nick from UMass who is studying there for a personal tour. We started at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and then headed directly to The Brazen Head, which is said to be Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198. I ordered a Bulmer’s cider which was also delicious. We sat in a room called “The Library,” but was covered in Police and Fire patches from all over the world, but not surprisingly, most were from Massachusetts. Everyone there loved that I was from Boston, probably the only place I’ve been were people were genuinely excited I was American. Afterwards we walked around the city seeing churches, shopping streets, Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral, the Dublin Castle, and many more historical sites.
We ended our tour along the River Liffey where there is a memorial for those who lost their lives in the Potato Famine. While there I learned that the country has never truly recovered population and economy wise from the famine which is evident in the amount of homeless people I saw on the streets and the country wide suicide prevention campaign. Dublin is a beautiful city though and there are lots of new companies coming into the city, including Facebook which is building a new big office along the river. Nick has been taking a Dublin History course at his university so we got to learn so much about the city while hanging out with a friend.
In the middle of the night, Anna woke me to tell me that out flight had been canceled due to the storm and the only other option was to change our flight to 6am, meaning we had to pack and leave for the airport in two hours. Luckily, we were able to make it out of Ireland before the storm hit and thankfully it was not as bad as predicted.
Ireland definitely felt like home and I already can’t wait to go back to enjoy more of the local music, beer and countryside.