5 minutes reading time Ireland
What comes to mind when you think of Ireland? Evergreen meadows? Enchanting bagpipe music? Saint Patrick’s Day and leprechauns? Soda bread? Doesn’t matter what associations you have with this beautiful country, you will be right to think that this is what defines Ireland.
When I visited Dublin in 2015, I thought of Braveheart, my most favorite movie of all times…and its one-of-a-kind bagpipe music, hands down. Even though the story of William Wallace took place in Scotland, he fought side-by-side with the Irish, therefore I felt I had a divine right to make this my own association.
As one very kind bus driver said to me when he volunteered to be my Dublin tour guide after he was done for the day: “You are a Braveheart yourself!” The reason for this emotional statement was the fact that I traveled to Dublin all by myself (was not supposed to, but it happened, God has other plans for you sometimes), and I was terrified, honestly. I never thought I could, but I did. And I was extremely proud of myself, I owed it to someone.
While I was walking down narrow, cobblestone streets, I was immediately immersed deep into the Irish culture: old pubs with live music, ancient castles in the background, the smell of freshly prepared pork sausage with corned beef and eggs mixed in with the scent of freshly-baked cinnamon buns. And, of course, the eye-soothing traditional Irish green tones on everything from showcases to people’s clothing.
After having breakfast at one nearby pub I was recommended by a passerby (the smells I encountered while taking a stroll made me extremely hungry), it was time to explore the number one priority on my agenda list: the largest church in the Republic of Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
This Medieval beauty was built in 1191, and is considered one of the tallest structures in the whole country! Whether you are religious or not, you will be in awe at its architectural magnificence, it is definitely going to make an impression on any tourist. One interesting fact about its history: a famous Irish writer Jonathan Swift (remember the “Gulliver Travels” you had to read as a summer assignment in school?) was one of the serving Deans of the Cathedral.
After touring the cathedral and devoting enough time to mural-admiration, you can stroll along with its gardens and later let your tired feet rest on the freshly mowed lawns, just enjoying the moment of serenity. Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures before you depart for your next adventure.
The National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology
If you are a history buff, you will definitely enjoy various historical displays: from Prehistoric and Medieval Ireland to Vikings and Treasury, you will not be disappointed at what you are going to experience. You will feel like you traveled back in time and witnessed grand warrior battles, ate supper with the kings, and sought refuge from the crazy world in one of the monasteries (Glendalough exhibition).
One particular artifact should catch your eye: the Viking ship from the year 1014 famous for the battle of Clontarf. It is rumored that Brian Boru, the Irish king at the time, defeated the Vikings and saved his country from invasion.
Leave plenty of time to explore, as it will most likely take you no less than an hour and a half to go through all exhibitions.
If you are in Dublin, you will have your chance to cross the Ha’Penny Bridge, connecting the “new” and the “old” Dublin. It was built in 1816 and got its name from the times when pedestrians had to pay half a penny to cross it. All proceeds went to paying off its construction and repair work. The bridge conveniently replaced the ferry that would cross the river Liffey and maneuver back and forth between two banks.
You will be captivated by its intricate design and very romantic vibe. It will be so nice to cross it at a sunset on your way to dinner and share this moment with your significant other, watching the river peacefully flowing as the sun goes down.
St. Stephen’s Green Park
A must-see site offering an escape from the buzzing city life and offering plenty of tranquil vibes is Saint Stephen’s Green Park. You can grab a quick bite on any of its perfectly groomed lawns after a long sightseeing day, but don’t forget to share some bread with the park’s feathery inhabitants: graceful swans and their quirky duck counterparts. You will be surprised at their bravery as well as friendliness.
Just stretch out your tired limbs, soaking in the sunlight, hear the birds chirping, allowing yourself to take in the serenity of the moment. You may even make a new friend by engaging in small talk with one of the Dublin natives before you head on to your next adventure stop.
Since I mentioned in the beginning that my favorite movie of all time is Braveheart, I couldn’t pass this sight. One of the movie’s battle scenes was shot at this location. It was built in 1172 and was granted to Sir Hue de Lacy by King Henry II together with custody over Dublin as well as surrounding territories.
One will immediately feel like he/she’s been transported back to Medieval Times. It is a true hidden gem for any medieval era fan/royalist out there or a movie buff like me. Here is the chance for a visitor to feel like a king or a queen, feeling the enchanting atmosphere while touring this magnificent structure.
All in all, Dublin is a great city to visit as it can satisfy any tourist’s demands: whether it be to grab a quick pint at a local pub and stroll the city streets later or go castle-touring, admiring Ireland’s amazing history. You will have great memories and would want to come back someday, guaranteed (especially if you didn’t have enough time to explore everything that Dublin has to offer).
I hope you enjoy your trip!