A few years ago I visited Dublin for a 50th birthday celebration, our focus that weekend had been purely been on letting loose in the Temple Bar area of this historic city. Ever since then I’ve wanted to go back and explore Dublin further, a couple of weeks ago I grabbed a couple of friends and did just that.
Our short flight from Leeds left us with a full first day to explore! We jumped straight on the Airbus from the airport that handily dropped us right outside our hotel, where we checked our luggage in as our rooms weren’t ready yet. The three of us shared one room in Hazelbrook House and although the hallways and entrance way might leave something to be desired, the rooms themselves are bright, clean and fresh. Exactly what you need to come back to after a long day exploring.
We decided that a big breakfast was on the cards after our early start so we headed for a greasy spoon cafe we’d been recommended, where we loaded up on a traditional carb filled Irish breakfast to see us through the day. Having been up since 3am it was exactly what we needed.
I’m fairly confident navigating public transport when traveling these days so I didn’t think twice about jumping on the bus to our first destination. After a short rain-filled wait we were a bit disappointed to learn that in Dublin you have to pay in exact change for your fair, no more, no less. Having not been there long we didn’t have enough change to pay for the three of us, I even offered to over more and let them keep the change but the bus driver was having none of it. Just as we were about to step back out into the rain the conductor took pity on us and told the driver to let us on with a part payment, but this is defiantly worth noting if you plan to use public transport in Ireland as this isn’t advertised on the bus stops and neither is the price of the fair.
Thankfully the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful and we hopped off at our first stop, the Kilmainham Gaol Museum. When we arrived all the tours were booked for the next few hours so we grabbed tickets for the next available one and explored the museum while we waited. You can visit the museum before or after the tour but if you have the time to kill before it’s the perfect thing to do in preparation, expect to spend around an hour here. Me knowledge of Irish history is sadly lacking so the museum did a great job of filling me in and left my dying to know more, it was really fascinating. We were charged the student fair of €5 (we didn’t realise at the time) but the regular price is €9 for adults or €8 if you book online and it’s more than worth it for this fascinating slice of Irish history.
The real highlight however is the tour, ours was around 45 minutes long and we later found out there were longer tours that sadly hadn’t been offered to us. Given the chance I think we’d have taken this as it’s a building with so much history! Our condensed tour was still excellent and our guide did a great job at portraying the key stories and history of the prison, the architecture was striking.
After our bad bus experience earlier in the day we chose instead to walk to our next stop, Dublin Castle. I love exploring a city on foot as this is how you get the lay of the land and find all kinds of hidden nooks and crannies. Arriving at the Castle late in the afternoon the guided tours had sold out so we took the self guided which takes you through the more modern areas of the building. It contains stunningly detailed artwork and architecture inside despite its simplistic exterior. The self-guided tour is pretty short, expect to spend no more than 30-45 minutes here. The self guided tour is €7 for adults or €10 for the guided tour, bare in mind that some aspects of the castle can only be accessed on the guided tour which can sell out days in advance.
To be honest by this point we were exhausted! I’d only had around 8 hours sleep in the last 4 days as I’d been driving all around the country visiting friends and our 3am start was getting to us all, so we opted to walk back to our B&B for an early night so we could start fresh the next day. We took an enjoyable stroll along the river Liffey before heading to our room for a well deserved sleep.
I had so much to share from my short visit I thought I best split it between two posts, see what else I got up to on my trip days two and three of my trip here.