I have been so excited to write this post! Y’all, let me tell you how beautiful Ireland is, and how much spirit lies in it’s people! I could shout it from the rooftops because I truly think this country is severely underrated in how amazing it is.
Let me tell you right off the bat, the most meaningful experience I had during my [only] four days there; I had joined a tour with a company called Paddy Wagon Tours going to the Cliffs of Moher. The driver was personal, hysterical, and a great story teller. The drive was long, but with him it was way more fun and also super informative. The best moment of the whole day was not when I saw the Cliffs, although they were stunning, but it was when I was walking off the bus at a rest stop and my guide stopped me dead cold and asked “Do you have Irish heritage in you?” I said I didn’t know, I was always told I had some English roots but they could very well be Irish. He replied with “Oh there’s no chance you’re English! Look at you!” With my freckles and red hair, it was hard to dispute him. As I turned to continue down the bus steps, he gently grabbed my arm and with the tenderest look in his eyes and the deepest tone of sincerity in his voice he looked at me and said “Welcome home.”
That moment of intimacy with a perfect stranger, and yet someone who I felt connected to, hit me so hard I had to turn and rush down the steps so he wouldn’t see my eyes watering over. Ireland has that wild, calling song deep in my soul that was awakened as soon as I stepped off the plane into the airport.
Taking a slight left, if you want details on my arrival and how I planned my trip, click here.
Now, when I did arrive let me tell you, the jetlag was no joke. After taking a bus into the city, and being picked up by the sweetest friends of Jack (my host), I was lovingly brought to where I was staying and left alone to nap the afternoon away. I slept for slightly longer than I wanted to, and when I awoke it felt like lead coursing through my system since it was so hard dragging myself out of that nice warm bed. But, it was very important that I did so as to right my sleeping schedule right away! So, I got up, showered, bundled up, and took a walk around the neighborhood to orient myself. I returned in perfect time grab a sandwich and be picked up to go watch the England vs Croatia World Cup game at a nearby pub.
Before going to Ireland, I had no direct contacts of people I knew, only the people who I had heard of through a friend who lived there for a short time. I walked into the situation with a group of virtual strangers and left with them feeling like the best friends in the world. Immediately enveloped into the group, I knew the drama, the back stories, and the hearts of these wonderful people. For this being the first night of my trip, it set the bar pretty damn high for the rest of it! I went home with a full heart and a sleepy head.
The next two days were my main days in the city proper. I did the Book of Kells in Trinity College (where I teared up over the library), went to The Irish Whiskey Museum where I not only learned whiskey history, but got a flight at 10am, mulled around in St. Stephens Green, got lost around Grafton Street and treated myself to lovely pub food. I stumbled upon the oldest independent book store in the country and bought a book about cows, got my nails painted “electric pumpkin”, gawked around Temple Bar, and *again* got emotional at Christ Church Cathedral. I walked some 32,000 steps and got very little sleep but felt that Dublin was an awesome, edgy city.
The transporation is easy and cheap, the city is incredibly walkable, there’s lots to do for everyone of all ages and interests, and even though there are tons of Irish people walking around, the population is very diverse! I personally got the feeling that Dublin was not trying to rip tourists off by overcharging, and instead actually make buying online worthwhile. There were no WiFi passwords anywhere, so communication was super easy, and you never really had to go far to find what you wanted. I could have stayed in Dublin another day and done things that were lower on my list, or spend time with people, but instead I felt that my time was better allocated to seeing other parts of the country.
My entire third day was consumed by the Cliffs. With an early call time far from where I was staying, I almost missed my bus but hopped on in time (with coffee in hand) to claim a lone seat by the window and plug in for a nap. After my driver established his character and our bus’ morale, I was left to do just that for about an hour and a half. Gently, I would get nuggets of information afterwards between castle stops and small towns until we reached the baby Cliffs.
The sun was out, the sea was calm, the breeze was slight and the land just gently rolled out before me like it was designed to. Here, in the mostly quiet, I heard the song of the country sing at its loudest and call me from deep inside. I was in Ireland, and how magical it was!
After lunch and another short drive, we arrived at the cliffs which were packed with people from every nation on Earth. According to my guide, I visited on the best day he had seen in ten years. As I stared to walk along the edge, I was so taken with how individual each cliff was and how the view changed just from a slightly different vantage point. The color of the sea was such a vivid cobalt 700 feet below me, I just stared at it for a long while. Then, I simply let myself get lost in the hike for the rest of the time and returned to the bus tired but full. The way back is when my beloved guide hit me hard with the welcome home line, and the day was blissfully commemorated with a purchase of Gaelic jewelry, which I haven’t taken off since. I slept hard that night and dreamt more of old Ireland.
My final day was a drive down to Kilkenny and County Wicklow to see the Glendalough Monastery and hike a bit. I must say, after four previous intensive days, and the amount of people on the trails, my hike was not peaceful at all. I found myself constantly rushing past people in search of a quiet gap that didn’t existam left the monastery feeling a bit more on waste than when I arrived. The guide on the bus was a snore in comparison to the previous one and nobody in the group was single and wanted to talk to me. Kilkenny was nice, the castle was worth going to. I got some good fish and chips, but once an obnoxious bachelorette party walked into my pub and started screaming I went back to the bus and shut down for the day. No way was I about to even pretend to deal with them. Once back in town though, I walked down O’Connell street as the sun was going down and walked into a pub with live Irish music. The bartender lifted my spirits, and again I was taken with how heartfelt the people are. I returned to the house feeling tired, prepped for my early flight and went to bed.
My only big recommendation at the end of this is post is to just go. Go to Dublin and let it speak to you. Plan a little bit ahead, but don’t overbook yourself. Bring a jacket, have fun, and that’s that.