Ireland. I don’t know about other people, but for me, three words pop into my head: Beer, Leprechaun and potatoes. Obviously, these are just stereotypical ideas and there is much more to Ireland. This is why I decided to visit the capital; Dublin. After all, what is the best way to learn more about a country? Go and visit!
It is almost always a guarantee that a Friday and a Monday flight will be abundantly more expensive as it is the busiest time for travellers! Below you will see the details of our travel. I must admit that my planning for this trip was a week in advance and maybe not the cheapest option yet it worked for my friends and me.
We left the Thursday 4th of Jan on a Ryanair flight 20:20 straight from Glasgow Central to Dublin for only £20.
Our return flight was on the Sunday 7th Jan by Air Lingus 07:00 straight from Dublin to Glasgow Central for £39.
The flight times were perfect for us to get back to our Monday university lecture not tired from our trip. I also discovered that Air Lingus is an Irish Airway and the website is slightly confusing as it kept asking the payment to be in euros. It might be useful to know that Dublin airport have printing machines to print off your boarding pass. Of course, this was after my friends and I arrived 4 hours early to the airport in a complete panic. Note to self; the bar-code on your electronic ticket can scan from your phone. Ryanair is a budget-friendly airline but is often criticised because of its lack of comfort and leg space. However, for the purpose of a cheap weekend getaways its perfect for students or eager travellers.
The booking of the accommodation on Hotels.com was very accessible and very handy to find the cheap stay in the city centre for the weekend. I booked a flat to accommodate four that came with a kitchen, a newly refurbished bathroom, and free Netflix! Costing only £15 pound a night each which was worth the condition of the room and the facilities provided The provider’s email sent a code for the door and the key box which we could access smoothly for the three days. Kitty, my friend, did point out that we had not received the code only a day before our flight. After a call, the provider argued we had not paid. After all the fuss it turned out it had not been processed on their end. They soon sorted it out and then mentioned a cleaning fee of 10 euros which wasn’t stated on the first transfer and refused to give us the code until we paid.
I didn’t know what to expect, but the first impression was an incredibly clean, busy city, but with a little exploring, you will soon find small quaint stone cobbled streets which after sunset lit up with lights and laughter. Being new to our surroundings it was convenient to get a Dublin tourist bus for a couple of hours to get a general feel for the city and more importantly so my friends and I wouldn’t get lost.
Something to be remembered for all travellers is that some mobile networks don’t provide roaming internet in other countries. I found this out very quickly as my three friends had this problem. Thus, I was a dedicated to being the map guide which turns out to be a hard job when you cant run out of battery from 7 am in the morning till 12 p.m. Luckily I was prepared and carried a portable charger with me.
For the people who are keen learners and love to soak up culture, you might have been interested in the Irish national gallery with a student-friendly charge of nothing. The studio has a large selection of European artwork including an original Van Gogh painting “View of Paris from near Montmartre.” Their national large collection of paintings showing a famous Irish war artist “William open” who painted scenes of world war something to be seen, the grizzly images mounted in a dark room I promise will leave an impression.
My favorite museum in Dublin has to be the Archaeology national museum of Ireland. It contains incredible artefacts from Egyptian golden necklaces to my favorite Peat bodies preserved in glass cases for you to see! The building itself is impressive with high ceilings with floors of different exhibits.
I understand that every country wants to show how patriotic they are but we found an unusually large amount of monuments at every corner or even small sculptures on each street. Most were the normal realistic monument of a historical person, but we couldn’t help notice there was also creepy abstract monuments. Some of which I wouldn’t like to walk past in the dark.
A proud achievement of Dublin is the “spire” dedicated to war heroes. It is a monument you can’t miss, mainly due to the fact with it being the tallest monument in the world.
The city of Dublin has an exciting layout segmented into its different periods of history. Such sections are the medieval, the modern, the antique and the Georgian section.
One part we explored was medieval Dublin. Here lay the famous castle of Dublin who’s appearance isn’t impressive due to only one original tower still standing but there is a significant stone courtyard within the walls that shows the skeleton of the old castle. The inside tour was eight euros at student discount and to be honest we didn’t enter on the fact the outside boards gave a lot of the information away.
Another medieval building is the St Patrick’s Cathedral, whose entry fee was nine euros at a student discount. The church has been standing there since 450 AD. Of course, it has been refurbished several times in its lifetime, but it is truly a beautiful building. Upon entering the large church, you are drawn to the walls filled with plaques of gold, silver, magnificent motifs dedicated to different Irish figures; indeed, a destination worth visiting.
I couldn’t help giggle when I saw a strange statue of a sea captain standing in the same row of historical doctors, Popes, and authors. His name was John McNeil Boyd, a famous high-rank royal navy captain who heroically died diving to save sailors overboard in a storm. A lovely poem is inscribed in the gravestone “All Thy Billows and Thy waves passed over me. Yet I will look again towards thy holy temple”. The famous saying “don’t judge something by its cover” comes to mind.
Through our exploring, we came across the Irish bank, a massive stone building with strangely no windows. My friends and I chuckled when the local told us the theory behind the design “the bank has no windows because when your money goes in, it never sees the light of day.”
For the writers and readers, you might be interested that in Dublin is where Oscar Wilde was born and grew up with the restored museum of his home. Also, Bram Stoker was married at St Saints church in Dublin, and Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver travels, was born in Ireland and buried at St Patrick’s Cathedral, where I was lucky enough to see his stone casket.
Personally, the best-paid excursion was the Guinness storehouse tour! Admittedly it was twenty euros even at a student discount, but the seven floors of learning were worth the money. The building is spectacular with a circular courtyard that can be seen from the many floors made of an impressive metal structure. The First Floor explains what the beer is made from and how it is brewed. Then we moved on into a unique light room that contain barrels of the roasted ingredients. This allowed us to smell the different flavours. My friends and I moved on to a dark tasting room where the guide taught us how to taste beer properly. The tourist’s expressions when told to “hold the beer on their palette for 20 seconds before swallowing whole” It was a sight to see in itself. I could definitely taste the flavour as my friend didn’t want hers. Not the best idea on an empty stomach. If you are a fun playful person who likes to get involved rather than sitting watching a documentary I can guarantee you will love the next floor filled with interactive shows of advertisements of Guinness over time. My personal favourite was the whistling clam!
Fun fact! As the saying goes “behind every great man is a great woman” well Arthur Guinness the founder of Guinness and his wife had 21 children! Sadly, only ten survived and who of which carried out the family business.
In addition to our tour, you are taught how to serve a Guinness pint properly with a lesson with staff. For the travellers who love to take a good photo the top floor is the best view of Dublin; The Skybar. Included a free pint to drink after the long walk around the exhibition in awe of the view was the perfect way to finish the day. Not to mention the humorous bartenders who made me being gullible believe after serving my friends that the age was 21. After much arguing and pulling my leg i gave up only to be told: “I’ll do something special for you Madame.” Soon after received a lovely pint with a foam four leaf clover on top! I’ll be honest I don’t like Guinness, but I drank every last drop for the effort made. Thank goodness for the escalator down to the ground floor.
But of course, this isn’t the Irish pub experience! So, my friends and I journeyed down later on in the evening down the beautiful cobbled Dame street that’s full of quirky antique shops, bars, and numerous restaurants. On a second attempt, we entered the famous Temple bar that echoes live music from inside. The interior was decorated with polished wood and furnished with comfy high wooden leather seats and tables. You can see your reflection in the wall of glass bottles behind the bar that sparkled with the Christmas lights. The warm-friendly outgoing atmosphere is how every pub lover would want to spend their Saturday night. Even a stag do all smartly dressed in colourful waistcoats were sitting drinking laughing in the corner as well as families eating the excellent looking food served. My friends and I sat and drank a couple of pints and played a couple of games enjoying the pub. During the evening my friend and I stereotypically accompanied each other to the toilets down the stairs in deep conversation. Let me make this clear Kitty doesn’t drink and I had only had one pint, but here we stood chatting in the centre of the men’s toilets.
It was only after a minute or two I noticed a man’s bright waistcoat facing the wall. Grabbing my friend’s shoulders and screaming her out we took hiding in the girl’s toilets. Here we are in the number one pub in Ireland, and I’m pretty sure the whole bar knew and could hear us laughing. Entering the room was extremely awkward but we couldn’t leave as my friends had ordered us another pint!
Live Irish Music!
For the more Historical side of Ireland, there is the Kilmainham Goal – a famous former prison that had an essential role in the civil war in Ireland. In the museum, you can enter the former court where prisoners were sent down the stone staircase. There is also a display of cartoon sketches that I found particularly interesting because they showed the war in the eye of the people through satirical scenes of the civil war drawn by Countess Markievicz.
If you are a book lover, you can find a personal book of Shakespeare plays signed by inmates. The owner was James O’Rorke who was imprisoned for being on the wrong side of the civil war movement. Sadly we didn’t pay to see the cells which would have been the main event, but we did get to see the eerie snake embroidered entrance where criminals were brought in. The snake’s heads represent the Greek mythical creature hydra once one head was cut it would grow back, maybe this was the way of the law showing its perseverance. Overall the prison is well presented with a clean museum and documentary displayed throughout and is worth visiting for those interested learning Irish history.
On the subject of law, I might add walking to the prison my friends and I encountered an elderly man of 75 leaning on a fence. We asked him repeatedly if he was ok and found out he was walking to a shop to get his groceries but his legs had given way. All six of his children were in London. The public police service was meant to pick him up half an hour previously to take him. The poor man was leaning cold by himself embarrassed. I offered to take him home or phone up an ambulance, but he refused as health care costs in Ireland. He asked us to go to the police station up the road and ask for assistance. We did what he requested, and the officer said they would attend to it straight away and send a van. After half an hour, we waited and returned to the station questioning why Three police vans had driven by, and none had attended to him even after us waving them down. My friends and I were more infuriated by the fact that there was a van sitting at the police station while the officers made us wait while they drank tea and chatted about their cats. Over an hour and 30mins, we waited, but thankfully some of his lovely neighbours eventually took him to the store and back to his house. In my first personal experience of the law in Dublin, I wasn’t impressed.
My last trip review in Dublin is the War Memorial Gardens dedicated to the fallen Irish soldiers of both world wars. The day we visited it was dismal weather which added to the graveyard look however on a brighter day I’m sure it would have been beautiful. The garden bears very grand white stone fountains and ponds with golden leaf inscriptions. Further down there is a significant park and walk for the daily use of people. The memorial garden isn’t largely advertised as a tourist attraction but I highly recommend visiting as it isn’t only architecturally surprising it is an important part of Ireland’s history and culture.
Throughout our journey, we did realise that potato is a major cuisine in Dublin but the donuts made in a simple shop where truly delicious.
To summarise our journey would be impossible as Dublin was surprisingly complex and a mixed style, food, people, and history. For those interested in travelling Dublin is not a place for sunbathing but a fantastic cultural city with loads to explore and the perfect weekend getaway.