This past August I had the pleasure of taking an extended holiday with my great-aunt. We traveled 7 hours by plane over the Atlantic ocean to Europe. More specifically, Dublin, Ireland. In case you were wondering, yes I am of Irish decent. My great-great grandfather was born and raised on Irish soil but immigrated to Canada in order to raise his family.
My great-grandfather was in my life for only a short 9 years in my early childhood, so I never really got the opportunity to learn about his heritage. Something always drew me to Ireland though. So, when my mom told me to do one last crazy thing before I started school I decided to go there and take with me, a traveling expert.
Upon arriving in Dublin, we took a taxi to the hotel and settled into what would be our living quarters for the next 10 days. We then set off into the early afternoon bustling streets of Dublin to explore the surrounding vicinity. Among many pubs or locally grown restaurants, there was Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick Church, the river Liffey, small antique bookshops, Cafe Nero (which is like the Tim Horton’s of Dublin) and Trinity College.
I had hot chocolate for breakfast almost every morning and pub food for dinner every night. I swear I must have gained 10 pounds (but it was worth it ;)). At night, live performers came out to sing in the streets and bars began to fill up. Sunday nights were the craziest. I suppose the locals needed one last fun night before heading back to work the next morning!
Throughout our stay, we took several tours and day trips. We even traveled north of the Republic of Ireland (where we were staying) and entered the British owned half of the country. We saw the Wicklow Mountains, the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle and the Giant’s Causeway.
While in Dublin, we went to the Guinness factory to explore the making of the famous crafted beer. We took a tour of Trinity College and learned some interesting facts about the running of the school! During graduation ceremonies, to receive your diploma, you are asking to come up in the order in which your grade appears on your final exam…starting with the people who got A’s going down to D’s! I couldn’t imagine the humiliation they would have to go through.
But the most exciting part of the College was the Library hall. It held thousands of books, all organized by weight in sections based on the letter of the author’s last names. There were winding staircases and small ladder running high up into the rafters of the room. It must have been as long as a football field. Each book could be used by the current students for research purposes, however, they would have to be taken into a smaller room to be viewed. Students were asked to wear gloves as they browsed the contents of the books, since most of them were too old to be handled any other way.
Just around the corner from the College there is an Irish Whiskey Museum, where tour guides school you through the making of Irish Whiskey. Never in my life did I feel so tipsy as when I left that Museum! It was all in good fun but I was surprised to have made in down the stairs! I made sure to buy my Mom and Dad some of it to try 🙂
I even convinced my aunt to do a Haunted Ghost Tour one night. We were asked to get on and climb to the top half of a Double Decker bus that was filled with smoke and low purple lights. Oh and to top it all off, the surrounding windows were blocked off by black sheets. So, we had no idea where we were going! A man with a painted face and a ragged cloak climbed up the steps after everyone was on board and boy was he different. He howled at the lamp light he carried in his one hand like it was the moon and then screamed to speak to us the reminder of the journey to keep us all on edge. It was actually pretty funny! We visited an old prison and a cemetery (which conveniently had a bar located right outside the front gates) while he told us ghost stories. He even brought out a fake body!
We walked across the river Liffey probably a dozen or more times, mostly using the Ha’penny Bridge. It’s an old white bridge made of metal that has been in Dublin for many generations. At one point, you had to pay a Ha’penny to cross it (hence the name).
I think the most memorable part of the trip for me though, was going to the movies. It made me feel less like a tourist and more like an Irish local. We saw “The Art of Racing In the Rain”. The movie was actually both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I would definitely recommend it if you were in need of either a good cry or an inspiring story.
On our last day of the trip, we went to a Cafe Nero just down the cobble stone street from us. I had a piece of chocolate cake, a large hot chocolate with a sausage sandwich and some fruit (you know, to be healthy 😉 ). I was very sentimental that day. I almost didn’t want to leave Ireland when we did, but I missed my family and really wanted to give them their souvenirs.
I think…I think part of me is still there. It was there that I made some decisions. I finalized my decision to cut off all my hair and buy some men’s style boots (which I had wanted to get in Canada but found cheaper in Ireland!). And I decided that I wanted to go back one day. Maybe even stay there a little longer than just 10 days. Between the endless amount of sheep and fog, part of me fell in love with the country.
Part of me, I believe, will never leave.