On arrival in Dublin, I had no idea what to expect. Part of me thought that Ireland would be exactly as it is portrayed in Movies and T.V. shows. There would be people singing and dancing in pubs that had been unchanged since the 1800s. Another part of me thought that Ireland would be modernized with new architecture, only containing remnants of its charm. I was partially incorrect on both of these things.
Wednesday night we packed in the Abraham House Hostel with time to spare, thanks to the shortest flight I have ever been on. After settling in, I immediately hit the streets of Dublin in search of pub food and a Guinness. I noticed that the streets were darker here, and I sensed an eerie vibe. At first I was irritated. How could this be the friendly and beautiful Ireland that I read so much about? When walking around, a group of friends and I heard the faint sound of Irish folk music. I know from experience that whenever you receive an opportunity to follow good music, you do it!
The sound of a fiddle and guitar was coming from The Celt Bar. It looked fairly small and packed, but I wanted to experience Irish music in a pub. It was exactly as I had imagined, quaint and simple with lots of clinking glasses. The music was spectacular and the bartenders were friendly. Most of the pub was standing room, and the chairs that were available looked as though they came with the place.
It is not to say that people in the UK aren’t nice, I’ve met a lot of good English and Scots, but they tend to keep to themselves unless they know you. In The Celt I learned quickly that people in Ireland behaved like people in the American South. If it weren’t for the accent, I would’ve thought that I was inhabiting a bar from my Grandpa’s hometown in Kentucky. Not only did lots of people approach us, but they asked us questions about where we were from and what we studied. I’m sure the fact I was with females helped the situation, but they actually talked to me as well!
We ordered pints and chatted with Irishmen while clapping our hands to some very talented musicians. Needless to say, we haunted The Celt Bar at least three more times during our stay. From Scots dressed as Frenchmen, to a full house yelling Irish drinking songs, The Celt did not disappoint.
Apart from The Celt, the remainder of my time in Dublin was spent exploring. We visited the Book of Kells and the library of Trinity College. The library was extremely cool, but I was honestly surprised at how little build up the Book of Kells had. I know this isn’t possible but I wish there were ways to turn the pages.
No stop in Dublin would be complete without an alcohol tour, so naturally we stopped at The Old Jameson Distillery. For 19 pounds, we had a full tour with a few drinks included. Now when I am back in the States I can spout off useless information about malt and how many times certain whiskey should be distilled.
The final few days of the trip revolved around nature. We rode on the Paddywagon tour bus that included a very informative and fun driver. On the first day we visited Giant’s Causeway and a rope bridge overlooking the sea. The causeway and rope bridge alone were truly spectacular! Day two included the Cliffs of Moher. I have always loved nature, and something about giant cliffs mixed with lots of water is heaven to me. I hiked around in awe for around an hour, which wasn’t nearly enough time. The Paddywagon trips not only provided amazing destinations, but stops on the way that included great food and culture.
After traveling to various parts of Ireland, I now understand why it is so iconic. It is a place with beautiful scenery and attitudes to match. It is astounding to me that the Irish have endured lots of conflict and oppression but are some of the friendliest people I’ve met. Maybe I’m biased because of the American flags I spotted everywhere, but I feel that Ireland is a must see during European travel. The culture alone is worth a stop, but as a bonus you receive breathtaking views. St. Patrick’s Day will take on an entire new meaning for me, because now I truly know how special Ireland is!