After four weeks of wearing green and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, the month of March is finally coming to an end. I couldn’t help but reminisce on my time in Ireland, both in 2012 and 2017. In 2012, my family and I visited Dublin and Waterford on a cruise. Waterford is known for its world-renowned crystal and Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, is a charming city filled with culture and history. In 2017, I spent a weekend in Northern Ireland with my friend’s family. We stayed in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and spent some time in Dublin as well. There, I learned that Northern Ireland is an independent state under the rule of the English crown, separate from the Republic of Ireland. During the 1980s, there were guerrilla wars that occurred between the two nations, called the Troubles, making Belfast an extremely dangerous place to live. Today, however, Belfast is the happiest place in the United Kingdom and has a lot to offer.
While in Belfast, we went to the Christmas markets in front of City Hall, and ventured around Victoria Square- a popular shopping center. We also visited the Titanic museum and visited the shipyard where it was built. Despite the tragedy that occurred while crossing the Atlantic years ago, the Irish are quite proud of their ship: “it was built by an Irishman and sunk by an Englishman”. We also visited a few pubs with my friend’s cousins, one of which was called “Filthy McNasty’s”, where I met so many locals and listened to live music. The Irish are so friendly and some of the most kind-hearted and hospitable people I’ve ever met.
While in Northern Ireland, we did an excursion to the northern coast on a Paddywagon tour. These tours are so fun and usually allow you to see several sights. Plus, they operate all around Ireland [link here if you are interested]. Our tour brought us to the Antrim Coast, where we saw the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and the Dark Hedges. We were suppose to see the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge as well, but it was too windy. Giant’s Causeway is on the Causeway coast, a stretch of sea cliffs and rolling green hills. On a clear day, Scotland is visible across the water. Giant’s Causeway is alleged to be the remains of a bridge that once connected N.Ireland to Scotland, until it was destroyed in a battle between two giants. The remains are perfectly shaped hexagonal columns that scientists believe were created from volcanic activity; however, they have yet to find any evidence of a volcano… interesting. Anyways, Giant’s Causeway is an impressive natural phenomenon and has an interactive museum. For lunch, we ate a local restaurant called the Nook, which used to be a schoolhouse. It was so cozy and the food was delicious. Next, we stopped at the Dark Hedges. The Dark Hedges are the setting for King’s Road in Game of Thrones and a popular tourist attraction. We visited at dusk, so it was super eerie.
On our last day, we took a bus down to Dublin and spent the day sightseeing. The first thing we did was visit the Guinness Storehouse. Our experience began on the ground floor, and brought us through seven floors of interactive exhibits and activities, ending with the world-famous rooftop Gravity Bar where you are treated to a complimentary pint and a 360-degree view of the city. Buy your tickets online and in advance to visit this attraction! Before leaving we checked out the gift shop and then made our way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. From there, we visited the Dublin Castle, which is conveniently located near the Temple Bar district. The Temple Bar is a famous restaurant and bar, but also the name of the neighborhood where most of Dublin’s pubs are located. Here, you can find cobblestone streets, unique boutiques, and live music. This is where we ate lunch- I had traditional bangers and mash which were seriously to die for. After, we walked around Trinity College’s campus, and spontaneously took part in their Open House, before heading to the airport.
I hope to return to Ireland again in the future and visit the west coast where the Cliffs of Moher and Galway are located!
Until next time,