Our family visited Dublin, Ireland the first weekend of May. We left on a Friday on a 5:30 p.m. flight from Heathrow and arrived in Dublin by 6:45 p.m. We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel and were checked in by 7:30 p.m. We took advantage of a family package offer at The Merrion Hotel. The Merrion Hotel is a beautiful 5 star hotel located on Upper Merrion Street in between Merrion Square park and St. Stephen’s Green. We chose to eat a light dinner in one of the hotel’s restaurants, The Cellar Bar. The Cellar bar was cozy and informal.
The island of Ireland is the third largest island in Europe. It is divided into two countries: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland is part of the EU, and its currency is the Euro. Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and is located on the eastern coast of the island. Since our visit was short we decided to explore the city. If you have an extra day then we would recommend a day trip into the countryside. You can do these trips on your own or as part of a tour.
We spent two days meandering through the city and seeing some of the major sights. We walked through Merrion Square Park and saw the War Memorial dedicated to the Irish Armed Forces. We visited the wonderful Georgian city park, St. Stephen’s Green, built as a gift to the Dublin people from the Guinness family. We walked to the river Liffey and crossed it at different bridges including the famous Ha’Penny Bridge. The bridge, built in the 18th century, was called Ha’Penny after the half penny toll that was charged to cross it. There no longer is a toll but the name remains.
From there we went to visit Trinity College founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Many famous people have graduated from Trinity College like Swift, Wilde and Beckett, and continues to be today one of Ireland’s most prestigious universities.
The college grounds are very pretty but what took my breath away was the Long Room in the Trinity College Library. It was so dramatic yet inviting and warm. There was something so compelling about this room that made you want to take the books out and page through them.
The books in the library are all in various stages of restoration. The Library also houses the Book of Kells created by Celtic monks around 800 A. D. and covers 4 gospels of the New Testament. The book is referred to as an “illuminated” manuscript because it is decorated with initials, pictures, and borders. The Book of Kells is one of the few surviving manuscripts from the medieval period. It was truly remarkable to see the excellent condition that the book is in and to appreciate the beauty of its brightly colored illustrations.
We walked through the grounds of Dublin Castle established in 1204. The only section that remains from the Norman period is the Record Tower completed in 1226. Other buildings were added to the castle over the centuries. Unfortunately, we were not able to go in the castle because the buildings themselves were closed to visitors until this summer. On our second night we went to a wonderful restaurant called Bang for dinner. Bang is located on Merrion Row.
There are two medieval churches in Dublin. The Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Christ Church Cathedral is the older of the two, founded in 1028. We visited the Christ Church Cathedral including its crypt believed to be one of the largest in Britain and Ireland. An unusual exhibit in the crypt is that of a mummified cat and mouse that were found inside the Church organ. Apparently, stuck during a chase in one of the organ tubes circa 1850’s, their bodies were found mummified years later during routine maintenance of the organ. This exhibit is quite the hit with children. James Joyce, the Irish writer, refers to the cat and mouse in his comic prose, Finnegans Wake. He describes someone as being “…As stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of that Christchurch organ…” We also went looking for a relic, the heart of Laurence O’Toole, a 12th century Archbishop of Dublin. However, we later learned that someone stole the relic in 2012. I also found out that much of the television series The Tudors was filmed in the Christ Church Cathedral.
We explored the lively neighborhood Temple Bar full of restaurants and pubs. It is located on the south bank of the River Liffey. It retains a lot of its original medieval street layout. We enjoyed a great lunch at Gallagher’s Boxty House and enjoyed delicious boxtys, traditional potato pancakes accompanied with meats.
A visit to Dublin would not be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse and learn about the famous Irish stout. Arthur Guinness founded the brewery and signed a lease in 1759 for four acres of land for 9,000 years. The lease is no longer valid since Guinness eventually purchased the land. Arthur Guinness was very keen on this location because of the fresh water he was able to use for his brewing process. During the tour you visit 7 stories of the building, with the center shaped like a Guinness pint glass. You learn about the history of the Guinness stout, its manufacturing, its advertising, and you end the tour with learning how to properly pour your own pint of beer. I had never tasted such a smooth Guinness stout. They say that the Guinness from Dublin tastes different to other Guinness stouts around the world. They attribute this difference to the water used in the brewing process.
On our last day we enjoyed a fun afternoon tea at the Clarence Hotel that was bought and refurbished by U2’s Bono and The Edge.
Lastly, I share with you a favorite chocolate cake recipe that uses Guinness stout. It is one of the chocolatiest cakes of all time and is one of our family’s favorite. Of course the alcohol cooks off and the Guinness adds to the chocolate taste. The full recipe yields a 3 – 8” layer cake, and weighs a ton. The recipe can be cut in half and will yield a 2 – 9” layer cake. Enjoy.
For further reading go to: http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/news/explore-dublin-in-48-hours/