Dublin, Ireland

Ireland has been on my bucket list since college. I don’t really remember why. Years ago when my dad was digging into our family ancestry, he initially thought we had Irish descent because of our last name (McDaniel). Recently we learned it’s more likely we are Scottish or possibly Scotch-Irish. That whole search and discovery might have had something to do it with at first, but as years went by I just became fascinated with the country – the pub culture, the landscapes, the charm, and yes, the accents. There is so much more to the beautiful country of Ireland than the things I listed, and I learned that with each passing day during our trip. My husband, Chase, and I started our trip in Dublin, and drove almost the entire country in 9 days hitting every area except for the east coast. So, like our trip, let’s start together in Dublin. And if you feel really inclined, enjoy a pint of Guinness as you read this post – or for those like me, a cup of tea (I learned Northern Ireland alone drinks more tea per capita than the entire UK).

We landed at 5:00 am in Dublin and decided to do our best to power through the day so we could adapt to the time change more quickly. We picked up our rental car and headed for the city. Fortunately Chase is a great driver, so driving a manual transmission on the right side of the car -meaning he is shifting with his left hand – while driving the car on the left side of the road, came naturally to him. By the time we reached Dublin and parked our car, the sun had just risen, which meant few people in the streets. Photographers love that. We strolled the Temple Bar district for a bit so I could get a few shots of the unique pubs, which all had beautiful hanging flower pots around the entrance. The cobblestone streets glistened from the mixture of morning’s first light and rain. The brick buildings were blooming with character and charm. Ireland is inviting in every way.

After strolling for an hour or so, we stopped at The Queen of Tarts for breakfast. We didn’t know what to expect when it came to food in Ireland because we had read online and heard from friends two opposing opinions: it was really bland and boring, or it was really tasty with lots of variety.  When it came to food, we were NOT disappointed. The Queen of Tarts started an addiction for me….to scones. I had a scone and cup of tea almost every morning during our 9 days there. The Queen of Tarts was a quaint place with small tables, a friendly wait staff, and delicious scones. There were vintage tea cups, saucers, and teapots hanging everywhere. It was the perfect start to our adventures in Ireland. We walked the nearby streets just a bit longer before heading to our next destination: Trinity College.

Trinity College was established by Queen Elizabeth I and is the oldest university in Ireland. We were part of a small tour group of about 10-15 people that was led by a current student at the university. He guided us around the courtyard and the campus pointing out various buildings and sharing facts about the university that might not be so easily found online. One of those was that during the commencement ceremony for undergraduates, students are not announced in alphabetical order, but by class rank, according to their GPA (highest to lowest). I refrained from asking our tour guide at what point he was announced at his graduation.

The tour finished in front of the Trinity College Library, which is home to the Book of Kells and The Long Room. We walked into the library where both were located and started with The Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels in the Bible. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed where the manuscripts are housed. The Book of Kells is more of an artistic display rather than educational. These pages are incredibly ornate with interlacing patterns, Christian icons and non-Christian motifs, Celtic patterns and vibrant colors. As a creative, it is impressive to me how detailed and well crafted these pieces are. Some pages reminded me of old fashioned story books where the first letter of the opening sentence takes up almost half the page, and is an art piece all on its own. They are creative and certainly lavish. A must-see if you ever go to Dublin. After finishing our self-guided tour, we continued to The Long Room, which you see below. The Long Room is by far the tallest library I have ever seen. It definitely carries an old world vibe and transports you back in time. I could’ve spent hours in there. With fewer people, of course.

We ended our day strolling Grafton Street (a pedestrian-only street) and as it began to rain, we ran inside a pub with the almost-disgusting name of The Hairy Lemon. This was our first of many pub and Guinness experiences, and because of that, I wanted to soak up every minute of it – meaning I didn’t snap a single photo while we were inside. I just enjoyed my husband, the food, and the cozy atmosphere.

From one end of the room to the other, you see marble busts. Most of them are famous philosophers and writers.

The Long Room is more than 200 feet long and is home to 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books.

Our second day in Dublin was short and quick because our sights were set on our next location. We woke up and walked to Bewley’s for breakfast and coffee/tea, then we made our way to St. Stephen’s Green for a quick detour to Merrion Square. St. Stephen’s Green is a public park in the city centre with various ponds, walking paths, and good spots to sit and people watch. Because of our tight schedule we didn’t spend too much time in the park, but I was able to snap a few shots as we made our way through.

We finished our morning at Kevin & Howlin, a tweed shop in Dublin where the coats are handmade and have superb attention to detail. They had an extensive collection of tweed coats that came in different colors, patterns, and lengths. These coats were legit – handmade and they fit like a glove. And not only that, but when you take a peek at the inside of the jackets, they are lined with fabric that looks like silk in the prettiest patterns: florals, bright colors such as pink, blue, or a deep maroon, or even plaid. I appreciate details like that and they most definitely make me giddy. These coats are an investment, so I’m planning to slowly save up my dollars so I can purchase one. They ship internationally as well, so I wasn’t totally disappointed with the fact that I left empty handed.

We left Kevin & Howlin and hit the road for our next adventure. I don’t want to share too much about that place in this post, but just imagine these elements: a cute seaside town, mistakenly putting your fingers in something gross, and uncontrollable tears. Don’t worry, it’s funny so stay tuned. Also, if you’ve ever been to Dublin, I’d love to hear what your favorite spot was!

  1. Barbara LeGrange

    November 1st, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Beautiful pictures! Makes me want to take a trip.

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