Ireland - Dublin


Advertisement
Ireland's flag
Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin
February 14th 2022
Published: February 18th 2022
Edit Blog Post

Dear All

Greetings from London! I’m writing as I have just returned from a short four-night trip to nearby Ireland, or Eire, or the Republic of Ireland, and plan to write three blog entries for my three full days on this beautiful green island. This is my first one. I am majorly excited about this trip, and have been for some time now. A few years ago, I joined the Travelers’ Century Club, a club for travellers who have been to 100 of their listed countries. I initially joined as a Provisional Member, which you can do once you visit 75 countries on their list. In 2020, I was about to reach Full Membership with a summer trip to South Africa, and Swaziland was planned to become my country number 100. As we all know though, plans changed somewhat that year, and since UK international travel restrictions began to ease towards the end of 2021, I visited the Isle of Man in December as country number 99, and Ireland just now – country number 100!!!

I feel obliged to say that the TCC counts countries differently to most people – thus, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all count
The Long RoomThe Long RoomThe Long Room

Trinity College, Dublin
as four separate countries. Also, they follow the “boots on the ground” motto, so if you simply put your feet on a country’s turf, such as its airport in changing planes or a quick step over the border, as I have done a few times, this also counts as a visit. According to the United Nations’ country list, which avid travellers such as myself also use, I am “only” on country number 82 at the moment. I still have a way to go there. But nay bother, here I am, a true TCC “Centurian” as they say!! I have just penned my email to the TCC to let them know, and for them to upgrade my status. Wahooooo!!!

So, as travel restrictions began to ease in Autumn 2021, and as I began to read fellow TB bloggers on here beginning their awesome adventures again, I began to plan for a few upcoming trips, slowly upgrading the level of challenge in braving the red-tape and bureaucracy of the situation. The Isle of Man in December felt a great first stepping stone for this, and gave me a chance to conquer a few of the “what if…” fears. This trip to
Temple Bar PubTemple Bar PubTemple Bar Pub

Temple Bar
Ireland felt much less scary for me, and in fact since I booked it in October 2021, a lot of the restrictions have crumbled like dominoes. There was no need for any pre- or post-arrival tests either going there or coming back. All I needed to do was fill in a “Passenger Locator Form” for the Irish government, which wasn’t checked by any official during my journey even once, and show my proof of vaccination to the Aer Lingus operative on the check-in desk at Gatwick Airport when I left. It felt a breeze, and hopefully the bureaucracy for travelling to other countries will continue to disappear, as it appears to be doing for a number of places now. The biggest issue for me was going to a country where there was still a lot of c-word related fear, and masks everywhere, from the UK, where most people seem to have moved on from this now. It felt like stepping back in time to England around a year ago, or to Scotland last summer. Apart from this though, it was absolutely wonderful to be on the travelling road again once more.

I feel really quite pleased that Ireland became my TCC country number 100. My overall plan for travelling over my life has been to do the trickier countries first, the Zimbabwes, Burmas and Venezuelas of the world, and then ease into the easier, but more expensive, countries as I age, with a more substantial disposable income to be able to afford such destinations. This appears to be happening as I travel through my 40s. I always considered France to be our nearest neighbour, but in fact it is indeed Ireland, the only country which the United Kingdom shares a land border with. I have known many people in the UK of Irish origin over the years, and they have on the whole been wonderful people. I have often considered Irish people to be the “salt of the earth”. I found this very much to be true in Ireland itself. It was a lovely trip, with some amazingly friendly people.

So, on the Sunday of the February half-term, I took an Aer Lingus flight from London Gatwick to Dublin Airport, which I had actually booked with the travel voucher I had left over from my cancelled trip to California during Easter 2020. The flight was a breeze, another up-and-downer, and I was elated to step off the plane and make footfall in my 100th country! I had booked myself into a lovely Air BnB, a self-contained cabin in a back garden in a very quaint little commuter town north of Dublin, and pretty much adjacent to the airport, called Swords. I often wondered during my time there as to the origin of the town’s amazing name, but I never did quite figure it out. A short bus-ride later, I had arrived at the place a bit early, and sat on the doorstep just for a few minutes before the lovely owners returned home and welcomed me into their cosy accommodation which was to be my Irish home for the next four nights. After a short visit to a nearby supermarket, Ireland’s very own SuperValu, to stock up on my breakfasts, dinners, snacks and drinks during my time there, I cosied into my accommodation for quite a good first night’s sleep.

The next morning, I packed my day pack, and headed to a nearby bus stop to take a bus to Dublin for the day – it was a really amazing day, and I enjoyed it very much! After having recently travelled in very efficient countries such as Denmark and Sweden, I had gotten used to paying for bus fares with my debit card. Not so in Ireland. You can either pay by cash, but only in theory as during the current time the buses don’t accept cash, or purchase and top-up a pay-as-you go travel card called a “Leap” card. I hadn’t even thought about researching this before arriving at the airport, and I was very blessed to find that the bus driver who took me on my initial trip from the airport to Swords the day before had allowed me on for free. Having then bought a “Leap” card and topped it up in Swords, I was ready to use it on the morning of my trip to Dublin. At the bus stop though, it seemed there were four Scandinavians, probably on a business trip to the very nearby Ryanair headquarters, travelling to the airport who hadn’t learned this yet. The bus driver wouldn’t let them travel, so I offered to pay for their fares with my newly-purchased Leap card, for which they were very grateful – it felt good to start the day off with a good deed!

The bus ride into Dublin took around 40 minutes, and passing through the northern suburbs on the way into town, it was lovely to compare an Irish city to an English city. There seemed to be much more pubs than in England, which is actually saying something, and a lot of Guinness signs everywhere. The city also had a regal, Georgian feel to it, which we also have in England, with its handsome terraced townhouses and attractive wrought iron street lamps. I alighted the bus at its terminus, and walked across the wonderfully named Butt Bridge, one of the many spanning the city’s River Liffey passing through it, and onto my first destination for the day. This was the glorious Trinity College, and its amazing dual attractions of the Book of Kells and the Long Room. I’d say pretty much the only pleasure to have come out of these times is the increased ability to be able to book places online, and the much smaller amounts of people visiting these places. In the height of summer, the Book of Kells attraction is notorious for allowing visitors only a few seconds to look at it before being moved on by the staff. Whilst the place was still quite busy, it was not a hurried experience at all, and I could spend all the time I needed in both places.

So Trinity College is Ireland’s most famous educational institution, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I herself. The list of its famous alumni is impressive, including Isaac Newton, AA Milne, George VI, Prince Charles, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Lee Hsien Loong. I arrived around 10am, just as the college was seeming to wake up. When I arrived it was quiet, when I left it was heaving, mostly with students, but also with the odd smattering of tourists such as myself. I had booked into visit the Book of Kells and Long Room for 11am, so enjoyed a wonderful time on a bench in the sun in the college’s main square, Parliament Square, overlooked by its most famous piece of masonry, the Campanile, and watching bleary-eyed students arriving for their morning lectures. When the time came, I headed to the museum. First up, the Book of Kells, perhaps the world’s most famous and iconic illuminated book, holding the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and produced around
View over the River LiffeyView over the River LiffeyView over the River Liffey

From Butt Bridge, Dublin
800 AD on the Scottish Hebridean island of Iona by resident monks. Following Viking invasions on Iona, the book was taken to a monastery in the town of Kells, 45 miles north of Dublin, where it was kept between the 9th and the 17th centuries, whence it was taken to be since housed in Trinity College. The museum began with several rooms and exhibits on the history and making of the book, and I was particularly fascinated by a display showing the origins of the variety of colours used to illustrate the book. The care and detail needed to create and preserve such an amazing piece of history must have been immense. Then came a room housing the book itself, although the exhibit is often jokingly referred to as the “Page of Kells”, as only one page of the book is permanently left open to view within its glass case. I love the Irish humour. I had all the time in the world to view the book, there were only ever around five other people in the room at the same time. Unfortunately though they wouldn’t allow photos of the book, and I felt a bit too reluctant at the
Interesting BuildingInteresting BuildingInteresting Building

Near Trinity College, Dublin
time to sneak one in when the guard wasn’t looking (not so later at Newgrange…).

After this, the visit led to the absolutely stunning and really quite mesmerising “Long Room” of Trinity College. The simple name does not do justice to the perfection of the place, and photos are simply its best descriptor I think. It is a 65-metre long library room, holding 200,000 of the library’s oldest manuscripts, on antique book shelves, two storeys high. The beauty of the room lies I think with its perfect symmetry running all the way down the room, the dark brown colours of the shelves, and the limited amount of light let in, in order to preserve the books. I spent a long time in awe and admiration of the place, taking lots and lots of photos, and appreciating its beauty. The room also houses one of the original copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and the 14th century Brian Boru harp, which has become an iconic Irish symbol over the years along with the shamrock, and has also become the famous Guinness logo. The place was a real delight, and I was quite reluctant to leave. In the
Doyle's Irish PubDoyle's Irish PubDoyle's Irish Pub

Near Trinity College, Dublin
end, the prospect of the gift shop beckoned me on, and after a couple of purchases, I moved on from Trinity College.

I had lunch at the nearby and very posh Trinity City Hotel, “Trinity Chicken Wings” (which pretty much tasted like ordinary chicken wings) and a Caesar Salad, and then headed on a little further to the Temple Bar area along the southern bank of the River Liffey. This is Dublin’s top nightlife area, filled with Irish pubs, cobbled streets and young people. I was glad to be there in the daytime, I’m not a big fan of the social drinking scene, particularly when I’m alone, but it was nice to walk through it and take some photos of the cosy-looking Irish pubs. From here, I headed up to nearby Dublin Castle, originally built in the 13th century and housing the seat of British rule over Ireland for over 700 years, after which it was a short walk to the Christ Church Cathedral, founded in the 11th century and one of Ireland’s oldest cathedrals. There was another short walk from here to the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in the 12th century, and Ireland’s largest church. I was
Bank of Ireland BuildingBank of Ireland BuildingBank of Ireland Building

Near Trinity College, Dublin
quite surprised to learn that both these cathedrals are not actually Catholic, but rather belong to the protestant Church of Ireland. They appeared thus protestant islands in the middle of a Catholic sea. Being Catholic myself, I enquired at St Patrick’s as to the nearest Catholic church, and was directed to nearby Whitefriar Street Church. A short walk later I thus entered my first Catholic church in Ireland – a special moment I feel. Not only that, it just so happened on this day of 14th February, Valentine’s Day, that this is the church which houses the relics of Saint Valentine himself! What a coincidence I thought! I arrived during mass, and the little enclave to the side dedicated to the patron saint of love and housing his relics was busy with local couples. Apparently, on this day, it becomes a popular place of pilgrimage for couples from all over Ireland, seeking to offer their love into God’s hands. Single people also go there and pray for assistance in finding their true love. One might wish to read here that I made a prayer myself there for such a thing, but in actual fact I did not, as I have pretty much come to accept that “I’m not the marrying type”, to coin an old Irish phrase itself (it has to be said with an Irish accent by the way…). But you never know, stranger things have happened I’m sure, and it may have been no coincidence that I ended up in the Saint Valentine pilgrimage place for those seeking love on this very day… The message from the priest’s homily of the mass was lovely to hear at least, repeating Jesus’s famous teaching “love one another, as I have loved you”. I took this message away with me as I continued my explorations of Dublin.

Heading out of the centre of town now, I walked along a few nearby streets heading north-westwards through an area called The Liberties, and frankly through some quite dodgy areas, which reading about later I learned were druggy places. I took a short cut through here though, heading to my final stop for the day, for a pre-booked self-guided tour of the very famous Guinness Storehouse. Since the late 1700s, the St James’s Gate Brewery has been home to the creation and production of perhaps Ireland’s most famous national drink and export, the Guinness stout beer. This was another place which seemed to have fewer visitors during these times, so it was a peaceful tour for me. The exhibits were extravagant, interactive, and immersive. The tour took you through the ingredients involved in, and the process of making the black stuff with a creamy top, through a nice little Guinness-tasting session, and onto the modern advertising and marketing of the product. At the end, you wind up in the Storehouse’s famous rooftop Gravity Bar, built in the shape of the creamy top of a glass of Guinness, with the rest of the glass being incorporated into the exhibitions down through the multiple floors along the way – quite remarkable architecture really. At the Gravity Bar, you get a free glass of the stuff included in your ticket, and perhaps because it was Valentine’s Day, or perhaps because it is simply a really popular place, it was quite full with few places to sit. Quite amazingly though, a small window table with one chair freed up just as I was walking past it, so I enjoyed my complimentary pint of Guinness with perfect views over the city of Dublin below, and the sun setting
CampanileCampanileCampanile

Trinity College, Dublin
to create amazing light scenes all around. What a perfect place to wind down for the day, and added bonus: I actually enjoyed the Guinness, as I’ve never really liked the stuff – perhaps what they say is true, Guinness is indeed different in Ireland.

So it was with a little merriness in my step that I left the Guinness Storehouse, headed north towards the River Liffey which runs horizontally from west to east right through the middle of Dublin, and walked along its north bank back to the city centre again. I briefly took in the sights of the General Post Office in town, home of the famous 1916 Easter Rising and Proclamation of the Irish Republic, marking independence from Britain, the much more modern Dublin icon named simply “The Spire”, a remarkable 120 metres high and only 3 metres in diameter at the base (!), and finally the St Mary’s Catholic Pro Cathedral, Ireland’s main Catholic church. From here, I headed back to the bus stop to take the bus all the way back again to Swords.

This was a wonderful first day in Ireland for me, I enjoyed it immensely, and I was looking forward
Parliament SquareParliament SquareParliament Square

Trinity College, Dublin
very much to exploring some more off-the-beaten track places for my next two days. More on that in my next blog entries.

Until then, thanks for reading, and all the best for now 😊

Alex


Additional photos below
Photos: 99, Displayed: 34


Advertisement

The Book of Kells The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells

Trinity College, Dublin
One of the PagesOne of the Pages
One of the Pages

The Book of Kells, Dublin
Chiro Sign, The Book of KellsChiro Sign, The Book of Kells
Chiro Sign, The Book of Kells

From the Greek letters "Chi" and "Ro", which put together formed the abbreviated Greek name for "Christ"
The Book of KellsThe Book of Kells
The Book of Kells

Many of the first letters of a sentence in the book are illustrated, like this rather amazing contortionist forming I think the letter "b"
The Book of KellsThe Book of Kells
The Book of Kells

Display showing the origins of the variety of colours used in the book


18th February 2022
Busts

Marvelous!
We love this library. Fantastic photo.
18th February 2022
Busts

Library
Thanks Merry! I really loved that library too, amazing place!
18th February 2022
Me, Guinness Storehouse

The joys of Dublin
I'm not a fan of Guinness but it does taste better there. I'm told it is because they give away so much that the beer stays fresh and they have it at the right temperature.
18th February 2022
Me, Guinness Storehouse

Dublin
Ah, indeed, I feel the same. I don't normally like Guinness, but I quite enjoyed my pint there - perhaps the water from the River Liffey is sweeter or something...!
18th February 2022
My Guinness

Gravity Bar
Our TB photo was taken at the Gravity Bar!
18th February 2022
My Guinness

Gravity Bar
Oh, wow, amazing!! I see that now!! 😄 Such an iconic photo of you both. I now recognise the Guinness glasses and the curving windows behind you! Cheers, both! 😊
18th February 2022

The Irish
Great Blog! Your blog excited our memory banks. You've gone to several of the places we went on our trip. Your library photos are exceptional. Indeed the Irish are friendly and welcoming. Cheers!
18th February 2022

The Irish
Ah, lovely. I shall have a look at your blog from Dublin now. So interesting to know we walked the same streets, lol! Cheers! 😊
18th February 2022

Congratulation on your 100th TCC country...
I recently checked my count and it is 103, but like you said there are many more pieces of land and islands that are not UN countries. I used to use the TB list until it became dysfunctional and am currently at 85. I am hoping to increase this number by cruising to a bunch of Caribbean nations in Dec 2022 for our 50th Anniversary and touring Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia in 2023. I look forward to reading your Irish blogs!
19th February 2022

Thank you
Thank you Bob! It seems like we are around the same country count for both the TCC and UN lists - well done you too! It sounds like you've got some great adventures coming up, and lots of countries to tick off too! I look forward to reading about them.
19th February 2022
River Liffey

Travelers Century Club
Congratulations on 100! Soon.... you'll have the U.N. list up to 100 also.
19th February 2022
River Liffey

Travelers Century Club
Thank you! I guess that is indeed my next goal, lol! Thank you to you for introducing me to the Club ☺
21st February 2022

Loved Dublin!
Loved your blog Alex. It brought back so many memories of our time in Dublin as we did many of the same things. I have some similar photos!
22nd February 2022

Dublin
Ah, thanks Lori! Indeed, it was your blog on Dublin which inspired me to visit the Book of Kells and the Guinness Storehouse, so thank you for that 😊👍
22nd February 2022

Good Travel Karma
I love that you used your LEAP card to help some other travelers. Doing things like this adds a little extra to a trip and I feel that good karma is added. I have done the same. Congratulations on your Century mark. I'm looking forward to the next blogs on your trip to Ireland.
23rd February 2022

Travel Karma
Thanks Brendan, it did feel good to do something good. There have been so many people in my own travels who have helped me, I do hope to be able to help others when I can too. Thanks for the congrats, and for reading my blogs on Ireland. It was a lovely little trip, and a great country to become number 100 😊
1st March 2022
The Long Room

How could I miss that
We went to Dublin many years ago. Somehow we actually managed not to go to the library at Trinity College. I really don't like discovering such gems after I have left a place. /Ake
1st March 2022
The Long Room

Trinity College
Ah, then you have a reason to go back, Ake! 😊
1st March 2022
River Liffey

Nice pic
That's a very nice picture. /Ake
1st March 2022
River Liffey

Thank you!
Thank you Ake 😊
3rd March 2022

Your 100th Country is a Charmer!
Firstly, congratulations on reaching your 100th country and being a full-fledged member of the Travelers' Century Club, Alex!! What an accomplishment! Had not C pandemic struck, I would at least be a provisional member by now! Secondly, I really enjoyed reading about your first day in Dublin. What an excellent write up and lovely photos! My experience viewing the Book of Kells unfortunately was of the rushed variety. But my visit to the Long Room was probably my favorite site visited in Dublin -- love an interesting library!! The gift shop was good too! Sharing the same faith as you, I enjoyed visits to several lovely Catholic churches in towns around Ireland and the shrine in Knock in County Mayo as well.
3rd March 2022

100th Country
Thank you Sylvia 😊 I agree, it was a lovely country for number 100. Sorry to hear your aim for provisional membership has been hit, but hope things open up again for you as the world appears to be opening up again. I agree also on the Long Room being just amazing!! And the gift shop pretty good too, lol! Ah, nice to hear we share the same faith. I loved how the churches appeared so active and central to the Irish way of life. I would love to visit Knock someday. Thank you for reading my blog 😊

Tot: 0.267s; Tpl: 0.032s; cc: 45; qc: 185; dbt: 0.0557s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 2.1mb