The One with Dublin, Ireland


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Let the next round of recap posts... BEGIN! This time, they're all about the Emerald Isle, aka Ireland. We got a great deal on roundtrip flights with Ryanair from the Memmingen airport so we had to make the over three hour drive down to the little regional airport Ryanair uses. It's nice and small and easy.
The kids and Chris sitting on the plane ready to take-off! We took turns sitting with the kids - Chris had them on the way there, I had them on the way back.
Deutschland looked mighty beautiful as we were leaving.
Almost there!
It was a beautiful day in Ireland when we landed. We gathered our absurd amount of baggage (two suitcases, a backpack, heavy purse, pack'n'play, double stroller, and two car seats!!) and took the shuttle to the car rental.
The lady at the desk couldn't believe we were turning down their comprehensive coverage for the rental. Chris assured her that our private car insurance covered it, but she seemed very skeptical. I guess most US based insurance policies and credit cards that offer car rental insurance don't cover cars in the Republic of Ireland. Our USAA policy is a European one so we were covered. Thank goodness! Because the employee stressed, "You'll be on the hook for the full "tirty towsand" euros." Irish accents are awesome.

Oh, and in Ireland, they drive on the left. Yep, the wrong side. It was so weird.
Our first airbnb apartment was located right in the heart of Dublin and this was Chris' first time ever driving on the left. Let me quote what Rick Steves says about driving in Dublin, "Trust me: You don't want to drive in downtown Dublin." But Chris did great!
Passing by cute little row houses on our drive from the airport.
Cute Irish pub. We'd see plenty more of these.
Elevator selfie in our apartment building.
Our rental was in a great part of town in a very safe, secure complex. I didn't know how perfect the location was when I booked it, but it worked out very well!
All over the cross walks are directions to pedestrians to look for traffic. I'm sure some unsuspecting tourist from the non-Irish or British world stepped out in front of a car coming from a direction they weren't expecting. Habits are hard to break!
We headed out the next morning to see all that we could see! Just a couple blocks up the street from our apartment was the large Christ Church Cathedral.
Occupying the same site as the first wooden church built on this spot by King Sitric in late Viking times (circa 1030), the present structure dates from a mix of periods: Norman, Gothic, and Victorian Neo-Gothic. Attached to the cathedral area by the cool bridge is the Dublinia museum.
Leaving Christ Church we walked along Lord Edward and Dame streets admiring the lovely architecture and sights of the city.
Looking left toward the Temple Bar area from Dame Street. Red + Green = Christmas!
Dublin Castle is also located in this area. It was built on the spot of the first Viking fortress and was the seat of English rule in Ireland for 700 years.
Then we walked a couple blocks towards the river to explore the trendy Temple Bar area of town.
Love. Love. Love.
This area is chock full of trendy shops, cafes, theaters, flower baskets, galleries, and of course, pubs galore. 
It was so colorful! I loved all the brightly painted storefronts and cleaver names. Knobs & Knockers! Lol.
Crossing the River Liffey is the elegant Ha' Penny Bridge - because it used to cost a half penny to cross it.
Eventually we made our way to Trinity College to go see the Book of Kells. 
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity has long been Ireland's most prestigious college. You are free to wander the campus and admire the Georgian architecture, or take a tour led by a student.
We came to see the Old Library and the Book of Kells. Fox and Jane waiting for the library to open.
Photographs were strictly prohibited in the exhibit showing off the original copy of the Book of Kells. But we saw it and it was really neat. Thankfully we were able to take pics when we got up to the so-called Long Room, the 200 foot long main chamber of the old library.
Chris was in bibliophile heaven. This room is stacked floor to ceiling with 200,000 of the library's oldest books.
On display in the library is the national icon Brian Boru harp, the oldest surviving Irish harp. Irish love music so much so that Ireland is the only nation with a musical instrument (the harp, naturally) as its national symbol.
Down the center of the Long Room was an exhibit about ancient and modern mythology and had copies of famous examples on display, i.e. The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter.
Such a cool room. I'm sure Chris could have spent hours here.
Leaving the Old Library we enjoyed walking around the campus.
Awesome, perfectly shaped tree.
I like walking around campuses - reminds me of the good ol' days at BYU!
Bikes. Almost an Amesterdam-ian amount of bikes.
Dublin is famous its colorful doors. Most of the Georgian buildings are quite plain brick buildings, with the exception of their doors which vary in size, shape, color, and more.
Dub doors.
More Dub doors.
And more doors. 
After Trinity college (and excessive picture taking of doors) we stopped in at the National Gallery. Amazingly enough, it was 100% free to visit. Nooice.
This museum has Ireland's best collection of European masters: Vermeer, Caravaggio, Monet, Picasso, and more. 
I absolutely loved the seating area for the museum cafe.
Just a block or two down from the National Gallery is Merrion Square. This park was once the exclusive domain of the residents of the fine Georgian homes that ring the square, but is now a delightful public escape and ideal for a picnic. Oscar Wilde lounges on a nearby boulder so we hefted Fox up on it for a photo op.
The park also had a great play area so we let the kids run and swing and slide to their hearts' content.
By this point we were all famished so we tried a local Irish restaurant called "McDonalds." Actually, only the kids had that. Chris and I stopped at one of the many legit Mexican/Burrito places around Dublin and got some much missed Mexican food. There isn't nearly enough of that in Europe, but Dublin had a ton of it!
Back out on the streets we snapped a family selfie on Grafton Street. So, here is the Evans Family in Dublin, Ireland on Thursday September 17th 2015.
Grafton street was once filled with noisy traffic, but today it is Dublin's liveliest pedestrian shopping area. 
After walking down Grafton we headed back towards our apartment for naps and stopped in at St. Patrick's (THE ST. PATRICK!) Cathedral which was right nearby.
The first church here was built on the site where St. Patrick baptized local pagan converts. The core of the Gothic structure you see today was built in the 13th century.
Interior shots of the Cathedral.

A stone marking the site of the former holy well.
I loved the stained glass and signage.
After naps we headed back out to explore north of the river.
Walking along Grafton Street again we saw these beautiful flowers for sale. 
Choich.
Cool Dublin streetscape.
Then we stumbled upon this pub and had to stop and get a better family selfie. The exterior made my heart go all kinds of pitter patter. 
Then a shot of me just for good measure.
This pub was right across the street from the statue of Molly Malone, or the "tart with the cart," as she's sometimes called. Molly is the subject of a popular song set in Dublin that has become the unofficial anthem of the city.
Then it was time to cross the river on the O'Connell bridge. This was the only area of town that had a self-guided walk in our Rick Steves' book surprisingly enough. 
The River Liffey through the bridge railing.
Our walk took us down Dublin's grandest street, O'Connell. Immediately our eyes were caught by the tower needle in the middle of the road. This is the 390 foot tall, stainless steel Millennium Spire.
The funny thing is, it's a monument to nothing and has no real meaning. Dubious Dubliners call it the tallest waste of 5 million euros in all of Europe. 
More gorgeous flowers and the statue of Daniel O'Connell. 
A ways down the street is the large monument to Charles Stewart Parnell, the member of parliament who nearly won Home Rule for Ireland in the late 1800s.
Just off O'Connell street is the Garden of Remembrance. Honoring the victims of the 1916 Uprising, the park was dedicated in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the revolt that ultimately led to Irish independence. The bottom of the cross shaped pool is a mosaic of Celtic weapons, symbolic of how the early Irish would proclaim peace by breaking their weapons and throwing them into a lake or river.
Queen Elizabeth II made this her first stop during her historic visit to Ireland in 2011. Until this visit, no British monarch had set foot in independent Ireland since its founding 90 years earlier.
Earlier in the day while exploring the Temple Bar area we spotted a legit Papa Johns pizza place. Having not had that for two years, it sounded amazing so we walked back there to get dinner. It did not disappoint! We miss you, Papa Johns! 
And, one last shot of a darling, flower-covered Irish pub.

Ireland is the 30th country we've visited while living in Europe!:
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Montenegro
Morocco
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom
Vatican City

Still many more on our wanderlust wishlist!: Greece, Turkey, Malta, Cyprus, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, San Marino, Monaco, Ukraine, Moldova, Norway, Iceland... Hope we can get to them all in our 21 months left here!

Next travel post: Powerscourt Estate & Gardens, just outside Dublin.

6 comments

  1. How fun!!! I would have loved to visit that library!! All those BOOKS!!!!!!!!!! *sigh* :)

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  2. Wow, amazing post! British Isles is high on my cruise list! Thanks for the extensive tour! I thoroughly enjoyed it. My hubby is helping me out with travel posts. Here is Part 1 of Norway (http://virginialusblog.blogspot.ca/2015/10/norwegian-fjord-cruise-part-1.html )

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  3. We had a lot craic in Dublin!

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  4. Just read through your post with my eldest daughter who is going to be studying at Trinity next year! Such a beautiful place!

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  5. Oh I love this post! Brings back good memories of a trip my husband and I took to Ireland six years ago. We stayed in a hotel right next to Trinity and walked pretty much everywhere. I have photos of Knobs and Knockers as well.
    Since we didn't have the kids with us on this trip we did the Guiness Factory tour and went to Temple Bar at night. We went to that very pub in the last photo!
    We were in Dublin Three nights, two of them for U2 concerts and then drove out west. My husband did all the driving for that lol

    Loved it over there!

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  6. Love it! Loved EVERYTHING about this place! When I was in England 2 years ago, I always saw "royal blue" doors everywhere, but I'm a huge Dr. Who fan, and always called them "tardis blue."

    Chase said the next time he's out to England for business he wants me to go and we'll make a trip up to Ireland. :D

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