Even though I’ve written about Ireland before, I don’t really think I’ve written much about our time spent smack dab in the center of Dublin. I don’t really know what I was expecting Dublin to be like. I thought it would feel similar to the hustle, bustle and grandness that is its neighbor, London. I’m sure the Irish hate being compared to the English, but that was my only point of comparison. Instead Dublin felt more like a large town, and I liked the large village feel.
We started our first morning by wandering around thecenternot too far from our hotel. We ended up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We have a St. Patrick’s Cathedral right here in New York City, so it was enjoyable seeing its Dublin namesake, which having been built in 1220, is a whole lot older than New York’s.
The interior of the church, which is actually Anglican and not Catholic, is definitely worth exploring.
For those of you into history and literature, make sure to pass by the bust of Jonathan Swift. He was the Dean of St. Patrick’s (meaning that he was the church’s chief resident clergyman) and is most famously remembered for writing Gulliver’s Travels (I haven’t read it. Have you?).
We kept on wandering and finding lots of courtyards and castle-like buildings that I am forgetting in my old age.
Hmmm..don’t remember where I was, and what I’m actually doing here. I’m guess I’m doing “The Price is Right” hand flourish.
At one point, we made it over to Trinity College, widely considered to be Ireland’s most prestigious university.
Trinity College is open to the public to wander around, but I would take advantage of the student-led free tours.
The last portion of the tour takes you to the library, which is a sight in itself.
The exterior of the library
You’re not really allowed to take pictures within the library due to its collection of old manuscripts. Make sure to take a look at the Book of Kells, one of the greatest examples of Medieval manuscripts of the New Testament Gospels and other important readings. It’s beautiful.
At this point, I think it was time for a pint, which is why Husband J is smiling.
outside of the library
If you’ve been to Dublin, what was your favorite part of the city?
I can’t leave a bland plain blog up with no pictures this week!
Galway is Ireland’s fifth largest city and sits on its western coast. Husband J and I had enjoyed our drive across country even with a not so auspicious beginning (let’s just say that I threatened to get out of the car multiple times while it was moving. True story. Not one of our better travel moments together). Driving from Dublin to Galway only took us about four hours even with a stop for lunch, and I enjoyed the picturesque country drive.
Galway’s downtown is small, but it makes for a nice afternoon of exploring. Also if you are there in July, the Galway Arts Festival is one of the largest in Ireland. Here are some of the more notable places we meandered through over the course of the day and half we were there.
We started out in Eyre Square, which was undergoing somewhat of a makeover when we went. It’s a nice spot for people watching, but I think that’s it. I liked this rusted metal statue below. It’s supposed to mimic the sails of hooker ships, which are commonly found in Galway Bay.
Do you see me?
At one point, we found ourselves in front of Lynch’s Window. It’s named for the Lynch family. Apparently, Walter Lynch, the son of then mayor, James Lynch, stabbed and killed a Spanish guest of the family after said guest was flirting a little too much with Walter’s girlfriend. The younger Lynch was sentenced to death, but everyone in the town wanted him to be pardoned. Even the town executioner didn’t want to perform the hanging (at least this is what the guidebook says). Who did instead? His own father from this window. Hence the name, Lynch’s Window. Not a really heartwarming backstory, is it? People from Galway claim that this is how the term “lynching” was coined. Who knows?
My face after I read the story above in the guidebook.
Husband J after I read the story in the guidebook.
We proceeded over this scenic bridge to the Galway Cathedral. I know it looks nice and old, but this church was built in 1965. It’s not much older than me. It is the most recently built stone cathedral in Europe.
The River Corrib runs through the city, and Husband J and I stopped to take a pic while walking along its banks. Now look at how we’re dressed. Husband J is even wearing a fleece. I had a sweater on underneath that raincoat. We went to Ireland in JULY. Don’t know if I could live somewhere that rarely gets hot in the summer.
If you like any kind of Claddagh jewelry, Galway is where you get it. Dillons Jewelers is the originator of the ring, which is used as everything from a promise ring to a wedding band. I thought it was sweet that Husband J wanted to buy me one (he wasn’t even Fiance J at the time). I still have it in my jewelry box. Maybe I should whip it out one day?
I also made some new friends while walking through the old centre.
Yes, I am the weirdo speaking to statues.
If you’ve been to Galway, what was your favorite part of the city? Have you ever had any “heated discussions” with your travel partner(s)?
***MY BAD ON MY LAST POST! A big shout out the wonderful Jordan Matter of Jordan Matter Photography for those great shots of me. You’re the best, Jordan!***
I’ve already discussed the new pub friends Husband J and I made while traveling through Ireland. Yet one of the mandatory beer related stops we had to make was to the Guinness Storehouse, the Guinness version of Disneyland a little ways away from central Dublin. This is actually not where they produce Guinness, but it doesn’t matter to the throngs of peoplewho gather daily at one of Ireland’s most visited attractions (at least according to the website).
When we visited I was nowhere near being a blogger meaning I have less pics than I’d like, but here’s a little taste of the experience (no pun intended). I will say that the you’ll definitely know that you arrived. They make it pretty obvious.
Husband J (who was Boyfriend J at the time) was happy. Very happy. Kid in a candy store happy to be there. I was just playing along.
The Guinness Storehouse is a series of exhibits that takes you through the history of the Guinness brand as well as the historical and current beer production process. I think I paid attention somewhere along the lines. Husband J surely did.
The part of the visit I was waiting for was the grand finale. Every visitor with admission ticket who is 18 years of age and older is entitled to a free pint of Guinness! While I am not a big Guinness fan, I will say that it’s worth the trip. The tasting room is called the Gravity Bar, and you do get a really great view of Dublin.
With our free pints. The best kind of pints are FREE pints!
There were James Joyce quotations written on the glass for that extra “We’re in Dublin” effect.
You can’t go to Dublin and not go to the Guinness Storehouse. I think it might be blasphemy even if you don’t drink or like beer. It’s Dublin after all.
While our drive from Dublin and to Galway was the equivalent of a coast to coast trip in the U.S., this drive only took four hours…with stops. The drive took us through some of the more remote and striking portions of the Irish countryside. Take a look!
Sheep! Quintessentially Irish, don’t you think?
Ireland is the last place that I thought we’d see palm trees.
In the short time Husband J and I were there, I think my favorite activity was just driving around and admiring the beautiful scenery. Ireland has no shortage of that.
You can’t go to Ireland without going to a pub. You just can’t. Pubs are a part of life in Ireland, and Husband J was going to make sure we had all of Guinness and Irish traditional music that we could muster for one week. To this day, I am shocked that I drank that much beer. It wasn’t all that much, but I am NOT a beer drinker (a beer or two perhaps but not much more than that..I get full ). Our trip to Ireland was like the Beer Olympics for me. I kid you not.
Our first taste of the pubs was in Dublin. Here’s the Brazen Head. We didn’t actually get a chance to get a drink here, but it is (or so it claims) to be the oldest pub in Ireland and dates back to 1198. Supposedly James Joyce and Jonathan Swift were big fans and faithful patrons of the Brazen Head.
Husband J was pretty disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to spend any time there. Next time, dear.
Even if we didn’t get to go to the Brazen Head, we did have our fair share of pub time. The pubs were an interesting experience for me in Ireland. People were either very friendly, OR they stared at me…A LOT. I’m used to being stared at when I travel (more on that in another post), but I actually wasn’t expecting that to happen in Ireland of all places. We met some really friendly people who made us laugh and allowed us to learn more about everyday life in Ireland. You take the good with the bad, I guess.
Anyway here’s Pub Friend #1, Charlie, a veterinary pharmaceuticals sales rep, who warned us not to drink the water in Galway, our next stop on the trip. Apparently there had been a huge sewer issue there in the last week. Hmmm…
When we finally got to Galway, in addition to our many pints of Guinness, we also indulged in a lot of traditional Irish music called “trad music” by the locals. Most of the bars in the center of Galway have some trad music at least a couple of times per week.
This brings me to Pub Friend #2, Barry. We met him at a Galway pub, and he’s actually a musician that specializes in trad music.
Here’s Barry rocking out on the accordion with his partner.
Husband J said a funny thing. While he was enjoying trad music, it started to kinda sound the same after awhile. Umm…I’m going to have to agree with Husband J on this one. It’s beautiful music, but after an hour I’m good to go.
Barry wasn’t our only pub friend in Galway. We bumped into a Stag (Bachelor) Party of guys from Northern Ireland. We had a really great conversation with them about many of the issues between Ireland and Northern Ireland. In their minds, they’re Irish first and foremost regardless of the historical political and religious divisions. They feel more connected to Irish in the southern part of the island than to anyone from England. They told us that they got a kick out of American tourists especially who say that they Irish. To these guys, you are Americans. They also dubbed us “Cool Americans” since we were actually nicer and little more open than some of the past American tourists they’d met.
Here are Pub Friends #3 & #4 Dave and his friend, whose name I’m forgetting. Hey, it’s been almost four years. I’m usually good with names.
Our last major stand at the pubs came in Doolin, a small town not too far from the Cliffs of Moher. Doolin is THE mecca of trad music. It’s such a cute tiny little town, too.
A whole lotta trad music goin’ on.
Pub Friend #5, Simon (our last one), was from England and in Ireland for a charity bike race. As an Englishman, even he agreed that Ireland pubs had a better vibe than English ones (the English beat the Scots though). His friends were funny and encouraged Husband J to marry me. We were definitely not talking about getting married at the time. In this pic, we’re supposed to be showing off my non-existent engagement ring. These guys actually made into Husband J’s vows. Really!
I hope these pics and stories encourage you to go out and hang in a pub or two in Ireland. You never know who you’re going to meet.
P.S. Here’s a little sampling of traditional Irish music for those not familiar with it.
Have beer, bars, local music and nightlife been a central part of a trip you’ve taken?