Howth & Dublin

With only two days left before heading home, we made one more trip outside of Dublin, to Howth.  My friends all went to Howth months ago (back when I went to the Hook Peninsula), so I had saved my trip until my mom came.

Howth is located on Dublin Bay, and you can take a city bus to the top of a hill, and walk along the outer edge of the hill by the bay until you get into the city.  Mom was occasionally a little displeased with this plan, when she felt like she was too close to the edge, but overall it was a great way to spend a morning.

That afternoon we did some exploring in Dublin (and I also made her go to the ‘burbs to see my campus). We also hit up the leprechaun museum.

And to end our trip on the best possible note, I surprised my mom with what was voted thenumber 1 attraction in Dublin: “An Evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies”.  There’s a dinner at the Brazen Head where they feed you traditional Irish food, and tell you stories, and play Irish music.  It was phenomenal, and the best way to end my 6 month adventure.  Because that evening embodied why I choose Ireland for my study abroad in the first place – its history and stories fascinated me, its language intrigued me, and I wanted to be able to experience it for myself.

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

The big day had finally arrived … it was St. Patrick’s Day! I swear, there were more people on the streets than I had ever seen in the city.  The actual Dubliners knew better than to wait in the cold to watch the parade, but we had a great time surrounded by other tourists.

Every year, a story is written specifically for St. Patrick’s Day, and each county in the country is given a different chapter to interpret for their float. The story for this year’s float is found here: http://www.stpatricksfestival.ie/downloads/brilliant.pdf. The counties were definitely creative – there were only a few floats that I recognized depicting scenes from the story.

After the parade, we enjoyed some live music on Grafton St, then made ourselves comfortable inside a nice cozy pub, where we spent the remaining hours of the day.

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Sláinte!

 

Guinness Brewery

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Of course, no trip to Dublin is complete without a tour of the Guinness Brewery!  I’m not such a huge fan of the drink, but it’s still a fun outing.

I had a couple favourite parts. One was the great way they displayed information

I also loved the room with all their old marketing campaigns and merchandise

There were great opportunities to have pictures taken…

2011 Guinness (129)

…but best of all was the bar on top with a 360 degree view of Dublin

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However, for most people, I’m sure they will just remember the free pint at the end.

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Dublin

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Over the next few weeks, I got to know Dublin a little better, and discovered I actually quite enjoy walking tours! It’s a great way to see the sites and orient yourself (especially helpful if you’re planning on being in any one place for an extended amount of time).

I went on a 2 hour walking tour that first week, thoughtfully arranged by UCD. Here’s a bit of what I saw.

St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green park is located in the centre of Dublin, and very close to the bus stop back to campus. It was in this neighbourhood that I spent most of my time in Dublin.

Of course, my favourite thing about St. Stephen’s Green has to be the mall.  I spend many a hours perusing new things in this lovely mall.

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Walking in Dublin
On our way to Trinity College we walked by Hughenot Cemetery (apparently one of the most poetic places in London), Parliament, and Merrion Square Park which houses a lovely statue of the one and only Oscar Wilde.

Trinity College
Trinity College was next, and oh was it lovely!  Trinity College is Ireland’s Oxford and the oldest university in Ireland. It’s right in the middle of Dublin and is a gorgeous mix of old and new.  One of my flatmates went to Trinity for a year, but because the campus is in the middle of the city, there is no room for any residences.  As a result, the residences are over an hour away! She decided to transferred to UCD, where we live within a 5 minute walk of all buildings.  But if Trinity had residences on campus, that’s the school I’d want to be at.

Dublin Castle
Our tour ended at Dublin Castle. For the history buffs out there, Dublin Castle was first founded as a major defensive work on the orders of King John of England in 1204, shortly after the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1169. It was commanded that a castle be built with strong walls and good ditches for the defense of the city, the administration of justice, and the protection of the King’s treasure.

Through the Middle Ages the wooden buildings within the castle square evolved and changed, the most significant addition being the Great Hall built of stone and timber, variously used as Parliament house, court of law and banqueting hall. The building survived until 1673, when it was damaged by fire and demolished shortly afterwards.

The Castle served as the seat of English, then later British government of Ireland under the Lordship of Ireland (1171–1541), the Kingdom of Ireland (1541–1800), and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1800–1922).

It was great, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I ever ended up going back there.  It was a bit out of the way, compared to all the other things to do in the city, and I think I just forgot about it.

And of course no tour is complete in Dublin without ending with a pint of Guinness!

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Dublin

One of my greatest adventure thus far happened back in 2011, when I moved to Dublin for a semester of school. The plan was that I’d be in school from January – May, travel for a bit by myself, then meet my mom in July and travel with her.

I was terrified.  I was 20 years old, had never traveled or lived alone ever, and had no idea what I was doing. The only time I had been out of Canada (or heck, even out of Ontario or Quebec) was to go to Malta with my family.  This was completely new, and utterly nerve-wracking.  But I was so excited.

I remember it hit me when I passed security at the airport, and had a literal barrier between my family and myself.  What was I doing?!  At the time, I had to walk through a glass corridor in which I could see my entire family waving from security, and I almost lost it. But I successfully navigated my way to my gate, and made it on the plane without an issue.

The flight wasn’t so bad, nor was getting a taxi to take me to school (University College Dublin). The problem was finding the right building once I got to campus! The cab driver had no idea where to go (but thank god I chose a country that spoke English) but by asking the students around lots and lots of questions we managed to find the right building.

And so I left the safety of the cab and entered the crowd of students waiting to register. The RAs offered to take my bags to my room later, which seemed nice at the time, but also meant that when I was escorted to my new room, I had absolutely nothing to do! No sheets to put on the bed, no computer to browse. That was a rough patch.

Eventually I figured I should leave my room and walk around campus until my bags arrived.  I happened to notice a sign for a campus tour and decided to join it. This moment literally changed my life. It’s not just where you go when you decide to travel, it’s who you go with.  And the people I met on this tour are, to this very day, some of my greatest friends.

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The campus lake and library

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From left to right: Ryan, Janetta, Cam, Aidan, Kate & Matt

It felt more like home when my bags arrived and I was able to unpack and get comfortable.

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I enjoyed this view for the entirety of my time at UCD.  Occasionally I’d even see small animals on the grass.

And so before my first week had even ended, I knew coming to Ireland was a decision I would never regret.