The emerald isle conjures up a number of images: from its grand cathedrals to its rolling green hills, Ireland seems to embed these picturesque thoughts into our minds every time the country is mentioned. We watch in awe when Ireland’s scenic beauty is shown on the big screen or in our living rooms on the television as we wonder if this place is truly is magnificent if we imagine it to be.
I knew I had to visit the county at some point in my life, but I didn’t realize that chance would come sooner than I realized. After finding an amazing deal online for a Dublin hotel with airfare last summer, I knew I couldn’t waste the opportunity. A friend and I booked our tickets, packed our bags, and before we know it we were Dublin bound.
Dublin is an incredible city. It has that modern European cosmopolitan feel to it, while still keeping its historic atmosphere alive. It’s possibly the only city in the world where you will find beautiful cathedrals surrounded by bars and taverns. The Irish sure love their Guinness, make no mistake about that. With Guinness being such a major factor to the country and being one of the most visited attractions in Dublin, I knew that the Guinness museum would definitely be worth a stop.
The Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s number one visited attraction for a reason. It offers guests a firsthand look at the brewing process and everything that goes into making the perfect Guinness. It’s an incredible multimedia experience as the exhibits display all the information through the use of video, photos, projections, and replications. But the real highlight is what awaits visitors at the end of the tour. Each visitor is given a complementary pint of Guinness in their amazing six story high Gravity Bar which offers guests an incredible 360 view of downtown Dublin.
While walking the sidewalks of the shopping district of Dublin, I saw a mass of people huddled around one particular man. As I got closer I noticed it was Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers whose TV miniseries “The Tutors” was being shot in Dublin that week. Unfortunately, that meant I was not able to go Christ Church Cathedral like I wanted to as filming was taking place there. So instead we decided to head to nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was definitely not bad for being a plan B. For 5.50 Euros (roughly $8 US) visitors can get enter church and get a glimpse of the beauty that Ireland’s largest cathedral has to offer. Founded in 1191, you can definitely feel that aura of history as you walk the interior. The cathedral is really a museum in disguise as it offers its visitors a number of historic pieces and artwork to admire. For those looking to get in touch with their spiritual side or for those who want a good dose of history then St. Patrick’s will definitely be worth a visit.
From the major government complex of Dublin Castle to the quaint Trinity College, (where you can get a glimpse of the historic Book of Kells) Dublin has plenty to offer tourists. But if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Irish capitol, simply take a rail ride to the southeast of town where you can find the fishing village of Howth. This cozy village offers picturesque views of the sea where you will find sailboats across the horizon. If you love scenic views then Howth is the place for you, but if you are up for a little bit of a walk then you will be rewarded with scenes that will blow you away.
Ireland’s weather is definitely one defined by clouds and rain, but on this particular day we were lucky. The clouds opened up and the clear blue skies made for a perfect day to hike. The Howth cliff walk is a must for any looking to live life on the edge (literally). They don’t call it a “cliff walk” for nothing after all. Hikers are able to walk the edges of the Howth peninsula which jets out into the Irish Sea which makes for some amazing views. The dangers of the walk are made known to hikers as signs of “warning: dangerous cliffs” are posted throughout the area. Make sure you are well covered on international travel medical insurance before making this hike (and I say this only half jokingly). But if you’re up for a bit of a walk and are looking for some great views (and thrills) then you won’t want to miss this hike.
Being able to be in Dublin was amazing, but unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to see much else that the county has to offer seeing as how we didn’t have a rental car at our disposal. We did, however, find a good amount of day trip buses that takes you out of the Dublin area to give you a better look at the Irish landscape. We found that the Irish bus company Bus Eireann offers great day trips out of the Dublin area for very affordable prices. We took the Glendalough day tour and I would definitely suggest this to anyone visiting Dublin.
The bus tour leaves from the bus terminal in Dublin and takes riders to the outskirts of the city and into the beautiful Wicklow Mountains, giving you amazing scenes of the Irish landscape. You may recognize these views as a good portion of the movie Braveheart was filmed throughout this area. The first stop on the tour was the Powerscourt Estate, home to an incredible, historic home and its gardens which occupies nearly 47 acres. The next stop was the ancient monastery of Glendalough. Founded in the sixth century and situated in the midst of the Wicklow Mountains, the monastery offers visitors not only an amazing taste of history but some incredible views of the surrounding countryside as well. Bus Eireann gives visitors an amazing deal as not only do you get transportation to all of these great attractions, but your tour ticket also includes entry to both Powerscourt as well as the monastery at Glendalough which is nothing but short of a steal at 28 Euros ($40 US).
Ireland and its capitol have so much to offer its visitors through its attractions as well as its scenic beauty. Being able to experience the country for myself was a dream come true and it will be an experience that I will never forget. Every time I hear Ireland mentioned in passing my mind goes back to those amazing scenic views as I dream of visiting the emerald isle once more.
As the Irish say, “Éirinn go Brách” (Ireland forever). Image by twicepix