The last time I visited Ireland was when I was an awkward child of more or less 8 years when I refused to kiss the Blarney Stone because, well, cooties, and this weekend I got to visit Dublin once again with an old friend of mine from London! My friend, Hannah, used to live down the street from me in New York when we were both growing up, and now that she lives in England, I don’t see her quite often, so it was wonderful to spend the weekend with her in Dublin!
We arrived on Thursday night and caught up over a pint before taking an early night for a nice start in the morning with all of our sightseeing. We began the day with a trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a gothic cathedral in the center of the city.
St. Patrick's Cathedral.
We then tagged along the first half of a very long walking tour (hence the first half only) and learned a bit more about the history of Ireland, how it won its independence in 1922 and how this year was the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising in 1916. After walking from the North Side to the South Side of London, we looped through Trinity College’s campus and ended up in the Temple Bar district for a quick break and coffee. Hannah and I successfully ditched the tour at this point and headed on our own adventures!
The ever-colorful Temple Bar district.
After a delicious lunch at an Iranian kebab restaurant, we headed over to Dublin Castle and went on a full tour of the premises, visiting the one existing portion of the old Dublin medieval wall as well as the state apartments. We followed this up (yes, a crazy day of tourism!) with a walk to the Guinness Storehouse, the massive museum on the premises of the Guinness Brewery dedicated to teaching visitors about the process of brewing Guinness.
In front of the Guinness Gate!
Hannah and I were able to enjoy the views of all of Dublin from the rooftop Gravity Bar as well as enjoy (yes, you heard that correctly, enjoy) a pint of Guinness.
Hannah and I in the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse.
We finished the evening with a beautiful concert at Christ Church Cathedral with a performance by the Washington and Lee University Singers on tour all the way from Virginia. As someone who always appreciates when other young people come to my orchestra concerts, I couldn’t help but want to attend their concert, and I was not disappointed! The concert was incredible and they sang everything from more standard Americana songs to songs in Gaelic. It’s very interesting to see Gaelic written and also hear it sung at the same time, as it seems to be a language with many, many silent letters!
The next day, Hannah and I got up early to head out to the Wicklow Mountains on a guided tour. We were lucky enough that it somehow didn’t rain ONCE on our tour (or during the whole weekend, actually!), so we had beautiful views of the hilly areas surrounding Dublin. First, we stopped at a visitor’s center and collection of old army barracks for a quick stop on the bus to stretch our legs and walk around a bit.
A very sleepy looking dog we found at a house along the way!
We then went off into the countryside, learning about the bogs and seeing areas where the bog would be cut and used for insulation before stopping at a few notable spots, including the Guinness Lake, pictured below.
Here I am in front of half the Guinness Lake.
The lake itself was too wide for my camera to capture the whole thing from where our bus stopped! As we continued on, we stopped in Glendalough for some free time and hiking, where Hannah and I walked along some beautiful scenery.
The smaller, lower lake in the hiking area.
One of the beautiful paths we came along.
After we returned to Dublin, we set out for what ended up being my favorite experience of the trip, a visit to the Cobblestone, a pub on the North Side of Dublin that you’d never find unless you were looking for it. It’s a dark, rough around the edges pub with the most traditional music scene in Dublin. In the very front of the pub is an area reserved for musicians that drop in and out over an evening playing traditional Irish fiddle music on a variety of instruments.
The musicians' area of the Cobblestone.
I may have stood for three full hours completely enthralled by the music. Watching musicians pick up tunes as they play and join each other midway through a piece is a very cool experience and is something I wish I could do, but the training for fiddle players versus classical violinists is quite different (hence why people often refer to the fiddle as a completely separate instrument). Hannah and I met two older gentlemen who had been frequenting the club since before we were born who loved to tell us about the musicians and their experiences at the pub, and we felt like we could not have had a more authentic and special experience in the city.