I arrived in Dublin at 11:15 pm on Friday night. Originally I was due to arrive at 1:50 pm. Believe me when I tell you it was one hell of a day. Naturally, the first thing I did upon checking in to my hotel was order a pint of Guinness in the hotel bar. Tired as I was, one Guinness was all I had in me. I soon made my way back to my room. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. For the record though, Guinness does taste better in Ireland.
When my alarm went off at 5:30 am on Saturday morning I cursed myself for booking two days of tours that began at 6:30 am. But, alas I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled my way through Dublin’s city center to my tours meeting point. My tour guide for the day was Mike Murphy who swears it’s his real name. Real name or not, Mike Murphy was fantastic! Through out the day he shared his wealth of knowledge about Ireland’s history. Mike acted like he was on the trip with us and sung us traditional songs as he drove.
We made several stops that day, the most notable being The Cliffs of Moher… obviously. Pictures do the cliffs’ beauty no justice, they are truly unimaginable. To feel so small among something so breathtaking is truly an experience. To think that at one point people lived so close to this coast line braving the extreme elements every day was astounding to me.
Speaking of pictures, as if on cue my camera died. (Though as it turns out I just needed to adjust the battery. For the stories sake, my freaking camera died.) Initially I was a mixture of angry and depressed, but these emotions quickly faded as I took in the sight around me. I was also able to snap a few shots with my iPhone (see above), though naturally this died as well after a few minutes. At this point I couldn’t help but feel it was a sign from the heavens screaming, “JUST BREATHE AND TAKE THIS IN YOU IDIOT.” So I did just that and gave myself over to the beauty of the elements surrounding me. It was so windy at times I was nearly knocked over and the cold, oof, it was the kind of cold that seeps into your bones.
But, in spite of my failing technology and the raging elements I found myself feeling so peaceful. To breathe in a sight like the Cliffs of Moher I think your soul has no choice but to feel completely and utterly at peace. As it turns out I don’t think I’ll need a picture to remember the sight or the feeling it elicited.
After the cliffs we made our way to Doolin for lunch where I enjoyed a pint of their local brew, a Dooliner. of course this was before making our way through The Burren. The Burren is a National Park and literally means “rocky place”. I had no idea a “rocky place” could be so beautiful. But beautiful it was and for this sight I am certainly glad my trusty camera decided to rejoin me in my adventure.
We finally arrived back in Dublin after a very long, but amazing, 12 hour day. I fought through the masses that overtook Temple Bar. Being alone I thought it best to head back towards the quieter area of my hotel for dinner. To give you an image of Temple Bar though try this on. For those from Boston imagine Fanneuil Hall on the night before Thanksgiving or St. Patty’s day and then imagine it 100 times crazier. I cannot exaggerate when I say I have never seen anything quite like it.
The next two days went by in a whirlwind. 5:30am came far too quickly on Sunday morning, but my travels again were well worth it. I had another amazing, singing tour guide, who brought us to Blarney, Cork and the Rock of Cashel. Of course I kissed the Blarney Stone, I know some of you are wondering! Despite the treacherous assent to the stone and the rumors that the locals pee on it at night, I took my chances and gave it a kiss!
The thing that I find far more interesting than the Blarney Stone’s history, and I do love that tale, is the history of the town of Blarney itself. It was the only town during the potato famine not to suffer even one death, not one. The reason is because the mayor, or whoever presided over a town in those days, made sure that every person in town kept their job. I found this amazing. Despite the horrors of that time, this town managed to pull together and not lose a single member. Amazing, truly amazing.
The remainder of the day went just as quickly as the previous. We stopped in Cork city with enough time for a Murphy’s. Murphy’s was the cities Guinness, before moving on to the Rock of Cashel. This is a site I hadn’t heard of before, or at least not in a way that remained in memory. For anyone who visits Ireland, on your way back from Blarney this is a must see. I ended the day with a drink with a few of the others from the tour at Weyland’s Pub. This is the pub in the movie PS I Love You. I’ve never seen the movie, but the pub was certainly worth the 15 minute trek off the beaten path of the more heavily visited Dublin streets.
Sadly Monday, my departure day, came far too quick. But not so quick that I didn’t make it to the Guinness Storehouse. This was unlike any other brewery I’ve visited because it shared information far beyond the basic brewing process. I also learned how to pour a perfect pint, one which I then got to enjoy. And of course at the conclusion of my tour I enjoyed another pint with a 360 degree view of Dublin in the Gravity Bar. It was the perfect end to a fantastic trip.
One of my tour guides had said that if you do nothing else in Southern Ireland you must see the Cliffs of Moher, kiss the Blarney Stone, and have a pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar. Check, Check, and Check! Admittedly, though I loved all three of these things, I found so many things about Ireland amazing and enlightening. The country is unlike any I’ve been to before and it’s inhabitants unlike anywhere else.
Three days was certainly not enough in the Emerald Isle. I will visit again someday and next time for much longer!