A Brisk Traipse around Dublin, Ireland

Selina Donahue
May 16, 2016

In the beginning of May, my dear friend and housemate Sparrow and I flew to Dublin for a quick weekend in the Motherland.

We easily figured out the bus to get to our hostel from the Airport (Abraham’s Hostel, quite possibly the cheapest option in Dublin you can get your hands on). The hostel was on Lower Gardiner Street, just a five minute walk away from the Upper O’Connell Street. This walk got you past at least 5 pubs and restaurants, all most likely tourist traps, but easily accessible none the less. The hostel was fine, what you would expect for the price we paid, and an ideal location so there truly weren’t any complaints (except that the WiFi sucked. Alas.)

Graffiti and one of the many bars around Dublin.

Sparrow and I walked around for a while, enjoying the scenery of the streets and eavesdropping on the various conversations around us (those Irish accents are just too good). We had dinner at The Celt, which was about two minutes away from our hostel. And it was there that we faced our first problem; getting a seat. The establishment was packed; we walked in and first came across a bar and a few small tables. Past this area was a section with more tables and skylight, and past that an area that seemed more like a restaurant than anywhere else. Servers bustled past us without a single glance as we awkwardly stood in the middle section’s doorway. Both of us on the more shy side, neither was particularly excited to grab the attention of a worker. We were used to Viennese culture where you seat yourself and get helped sooner rather than later, but here we had no idea what the etiquette was like. Eventually we figured that we should seat ourselves, and that we did. Next of course came the challenge of getting menus and a server. Using the very little courage I had, I managed to get the attention (and menus) of a woman who may have been the hostess, could have been a server, could have been a double threat and been doing it all. Eventually we settled in and had traditional Irish stew, beer, and later for dessert apple crumble pie and Bailey’s Coffee. Our waiter was quite a character, a young man who would whiz to and from our table at breakneck speeds. At 9:30 live music began, and we happily loitered at our tables with our coffee, listening to the various Irish accented covers seeping in from the first room.

We had three goals for the next day; The Book of Kells, a free walking tour, and the Guinness Storehouse Tour. We bought our Guinness Tickets online the night before which I highly recommend, trust me, you will skip some very long lines and save a lot of time.

We decided to get to the Book of Kells exhibit right when it opened at 9:30. We walked there in a drizzle, so another recommendation I have is to bring an umbrella or raincoat when visiting Dublin. We got in line which was quite short, we only waited outside for about 5 minutes, and bought our tickets. Something that I couldn’t get over, especially in this instance, is how friendly the Irish can be (at least in comparison to the stoic Viennese). The man I bought my ticket from told me he thought my pink hair was “stupendous” and “perfect,” asked me where I was from and if I was liking Ireland. He even smiled, which I forgot people tend to do in normal interactions these day.

Sparrow and I got the audio guide for the exhibit which was cheap and we got to keep which was a nice souvenir. It was very informative, and seeing the Book of Kells itself was exciting after having studied it in Art History courses in the past. We also saw the Long Room – Old Library, so overall it was a very worthwhile visit.

We ended up missing the beginning of the free tour thanks to being at the exhibit past 11 (we ended up getting there around 10, and the free tour started at 11 and went until 2). Sparrow and I decided to roll with the punches and got breakfast and planned our own free tour, which basically consisted of us hitting up a few of the places we would have seen anyway; Trinity College (where the Book of Kells exhibit was), Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. You had to pay to get into both Cathedrals, so we paid to get into St. Patrick’s which I think was worth it. It had a lot of interesting informative areas set up all over the interior, and we even got to watch a free concert. 

Above: Christchurch Cathedral.

Below: St. Patrick's Cathedral.

We ended up walking to the Guinness Storehouse, which wasn’t that far from the Cathedral. Skipping the lines and printing out our tickets inside, our self-led tour began. I would say that it was certainly educational, although if you asked me right now how beer was made, I probably couldn’t tell you. Still, I’m sure bigger beer enthusiasts would remember every word. The ticket we bought came with a free drink, so Sparrow and I both got the famous Guinness drafts from the Gravity Bar. We settled in on the fifth floor and just enjoyed people watching. Eventually we hit up the ridiculous gift shop, and both left happy with sweaters/hoodies and Guinness themed socks (it was necessary, ok?).

Below: Sparrow and I in front of St. Jame's Gate!

That night we listened to live music at a bar and had a lovely last evening in Dublin. The trip was everything I wanted, and it made the desire to some day explore all of Ireland and Scotland only greater.

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Selina Donahue

<p>Selina is a Junior Studio Art Major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She enjoys long walks in the halls of art museums, eating too many cupcakes, and absorbing the world around her to feed as inspiration for all her creative endeavors. Her specialties lie in taking too many pictures and expressing joy over the little things. Selina is excited to share the beauty she sees all over Vienna during her stay with all who hop on over to her little blog!</p>

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