This past week we took a quick jaunt to Ireland to enjoy a long weekend on the Emerald Isle.
Our journey began with a three-hour vacation in the airport thanks to staff shortages and a busy travel weekend. After making it through the almost 2-hour line for security (really when you stand in a line that long there needs to be a very fun ride at the other end and the cramped Ryanair flight really didn’t fit the bill!), we were able to board our flight (which was shorter than the line) to arrive in Dublin. By the time we made it out of the airport and to our apartment, there was only enough time for a quick snack and bed.
Our day in Dublin began the next morning with a trip to the Glasnevin Cemetery. It was a nice cemetery with a lot of Celtic crosses and a large tower, but the wind was strong and cold so we didn’t stay for more than about 30 minutes before making our way toward the city center.
Our first stop in the center was Trinity College. We didn’t go into any buildings but took a quick look around the grounds before moving on to the Molly Malone statue.
After snapping an obligatory picture, we walked toward the Stag’s Head where we had our lunch. It was a cozy pub-style restaurant, so we got comfortable and ordered some Smithwick’s Red Ale while we ate our Seafood Chowder, Irish Stew and Seafood Pie accompanied with truffle fries.
Everything was very good and after eating our fill, we made our way to Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
We decided to only go inside St. Patrick’s. It wasn’t the most beautiful cathedral we have ever seen, but there were some nice historical ties to the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift.
After the cathedral, we made our way to St. Stephen’s Green, the large park in the city.
The weather was pleasant, so we strolled through the park a bit before heading to look for some souvenirs in a shopping area. We made our way to a sidewalk cafe for some coffee and tea before entering the Temple Bar area where we looked around at some interesting art installations and some information about the famous writers from Ireland. Before going to dinner, we took a peek at Ha’ Penny Bridge and O’Connell Bridge.
Then, it was on to a favorite restaurant of ours from past times in Dublin, Gallagher’s Boxty House. We enjoyed the Traditional Corned Beef, Corned Beef Boxty and Irish Stew along with some Murphy’s Red before trying some Brown Bread Ice Cream for dessert.
The next day, we took a bus tour to Northern Ireland which is actually a part of the UK, not the Republic of Ireland. After boarding our bus, we drove an hour and a half into Belfast to pick up a few other passengers. We got a quick look at the city from the bus before moving on to the Dark Hedges (never having watched Game of Thrones, this wasn’t familiar to me, but I’m told that those of you that watched the show will recognize this location).
We had a brief stop to walk around the area before heading further north to Dunluce Castle whose kitchen, along with all the servants working in it, fell into the sea many years ago. The views of the castle and the sea were very pretty.
Then it was back on to the bus to go to the Giant’s Causeway. This is an area along the coast that is made up of many hexagonal rocks formed from volcanic activity. Of course, the Irish have their own legend about a giant using them to cross the sea. Nonetheless, the area is very interesting, and (as the luck of the Irish was with us) we had very nice weather which allowed us to see Scotland from the shore. The views were great, and, walking through the rock formations, we were able to see many “tide pool” areas with various forms of life from fish to anemones which we all enjoyed.
We were taken to lunch near the area. We once again had some Irish Stew and Seafood Chowder, but the real highlight was the bread that came with it- really good. We also had some Guinness with our lunch.
Then, it was back on the bus to the Carrick a Rede bridge. Tourist buses are no longer allowed to go to the bridge over the sea, but we could see it along with some really beautiful views before heading back to Belfast.
As we drove through the city, our driver pointed out the shipyard where the Titanic was built, the largest Celtic cross in the world, a leaning clock tower (due to the sand that the city is built on), the most bombed hotel in the world, the Europa, some monuments to Titanic and other ships built in Belfast, a memorial for the Titanic victims and various other buildings.
The buildings in the city were pretty interesting looking, and the City Hall Building was very nice. There was a street fair going on in front of it, so there was a festive atmosphere.
We walked around for a bit and walked some side streets to Belfast Cathedral (St. Anne’s), but as there was a service for the Queen’s jubilee happening inside, we couldn’t go in.
After an hour in the city, we reboarded the bus and headed back to Dublin. We stopped for our final Irish dinner where we had fish and chips with Guinness and Smithwick’s before ending with some cheesecake and Bailey’s coffee.
Our final day, we were once again treated to a lengthy airport stay, but we made it home feeling like our weekend was a success thanks to some nice sites, good food and friendly people.