But since it fell unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all.Traditional Tune
Our last full day in Ireland!
Seeing Christchurch Cathedral’s bell tower out the window should have been fair warning. The bells chime on every hour. I slept with my earplugs and my eyeshades but I was still occasionally aware of the hour. We are also in a location adjoining the Temple Bar area so revelers’ loud celebrations traveled by until around 5:00 a.m. according to Bill. Not complaining. Just stating facts. We think we’re in a pretty convenient location.
We skipped breakfast this morning and headed off to collect our “Do Dublin” hop-on, hop-off bus tickets. We went with the green buses though there is an equally priced red bus. We had to walk to their office on O’Connell Street to get the passes. Dublin is very walkable!
We walked through the late-night party location of the Temple Bar District. It’s quite colorful and many streets are pedestrian only.
We walked though the Mechant’s Gate and over the Ha’Penny Bridge and made our way past the Dublin Post Office. During the Easter Uprising of 1916, Irish rebels fighting for independence from England, held up in the Post Office for several days. They were vastly outnumbered and eventually surrendered. The bullet holes are still visible on the large columns in front of the Post Office. This revolt resulted in the execution of 14 Irishmen by firing squad. The executions took place at Kilmainham Gaol.
The first available bus was filled with German tourists and the narrative was to be in German. Our German is very rusty so we waited for the next bus. There are also buses with headsets but I’d heard to wait for a real human narrator. My intention was for us to ride around Dublin and get an idea of where we’d like to return. We got seats in the first row on the top of the bus.
The tour started off on the east side of the Liffey and traveled around many stops in Dublin. There was history and narration provided that ranged from interesting to corny.
Along the route is a very moving memorial to the victims of the famine of the 1840s. It consists of emaciated figures heading to nowhere. We rode for perhaps an hour before I realized we were very close to O’Donoghue’s, one of the pubs I had on our list. We took leave of our bus driver and left to explore.
O’Donoghue’s was the pub in which the band the Dubliners were famous for playing. I knew that Bill would love to visit here as he has long been a fan of the Dubliners. The place is plastered with pictures and memorabilia. We had toasted ham, cheese, and tomato sandwiches and soaked it all in. Turns out Bill was enjoying Dublin more than he thought he would!
We walked through part of St. Stephen’s Green before lining up for the next hop-on bus. St. Stephen’s is a beautiful 22-acre park in the middle of Dublin. There was a famine memorial there as well.
We also gawked at a wedding party heading over for official photographs.
It’s fairly accurate that the buses come along every 10 minutes or so; however, the next bus was providing Spanish narration to perhaps a handful of people. We waited. As we waited I watched as two very distinguished looking elderly gentlemen left their building across the street. One was using a cane to traverse the steps, the other (clearly not needing a cane yet!) was using his umbrella in the same manner. I found it rather poignant.
Finally a bus arrived and as we climbed up to the top, the most annoying music was piped through. It was a woman’s voice, slowly, mournfully, “dirgefully” singing, “Whiskey in the Jar”.
Musha rain dum a doo, dum a da.
Whack for my daddy, oh.
Whack for my daddy, oh.
There’s whiskey in the jar, oh.
Seriously? We could only take it until we reached the Trinity College stop where we got off to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I’d read that if you only had time to go into one church; Christchurch or St. Patrick’s; St. Patrick’s should be the one. I’m not sure why the votes came out that way. We paid 7 Euros each to enter. Work on the church began in 1191 A. D. Jonathon Swift; author of Gulliver’s Travels and “A Modest Proposal”, was appointed the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1713. He is buried in the cathedral as are other important individuals. It was filled with a gift shop and many, many memorials to fallen Irish heroes. The woodwork on the choir and alter was very pretty. We stayed perhaps a half hour, maybe a bit more.
We hopped on the next available bus and … the same music! Geez! Thankfully, it ended relatively quickly. We drove past the enormously huge Guinness plant. We had no desire to take the tour of the Storehouse. We like Guinness. It’s true it tastes better in Ireland because it’s not pasteurized. That’s all we felt we needed to know. We rode the bus past a concert venue and watched as young people with very little clothing, headed up to the entry. That was a bit of a culture shock. The two older ladies in front of me about had an attack.
We exited the bus on the other side of the Liffey from our hotel and walked back. I am here to tell you that the River Liffey at low tide is something definitely sniffy! We felt that the bus tour had given us some good information. A good “one and done” experience. We headed to our room to regroup prior to our scheduled pub crawl. It’s like this: We had one full evening left in Dublin. We could have bought tickets for the tour of Kilmainham Gaol, we could have visited a museum, or the zoo, or done some shopping for stuff we didn’t need and couldn’t afford; or, we could go out and make some new friends. Well, and sample beer and the like. Hm, what to do?
My theory is that you at least have to have a plan. I had researched things like the best pubs in Dublin, the oldest pubs in Dublin, the music pubs in Dublin and so on. I’d even pulled, “Tapl’s Guide to Organizing Your Own Dublin Pub Crawl” from TripAdvisor. We figured we could hit at least 3 or 4 within a fairly easy walking distance of our hotel. If we stuck to one half-pint at each stop we would be able to pull it off. I decided we should begin at the pub farthest away and work our way back to the hotel.
First up was The Long Hall. First licensed in 1766, the interior now dates back to the Victorian Era. It is beautifully ornate with chandeliers, wood carvings, and cut glass. I was definitely stirred by this place and knew if I took pictures I’d look like a tourist. Oh wait, I am a tourist! I did sneak in a few pictures and a beverage before we found our next location.
The International is a bit more of a “seedy” pub in my estimation. The back bar dates from 1838 and features carved busts. During our visit the music went from loops of traditional Irish, to Duran Duran. There was a pretty drunk guy at the end of the bar happy to sing along to which ever.
After the International, it was on to O’Neill’s. O’Neill’s is absolutely stunning from the outside and enormous but somehow intimate on the inside. There was a bustling amount of business and Bill and I sat at the upstair bar for some refreshment. We had reduced the size of our beverages from pints to half-pints in order to meet our pub quota.
Just outside of O’Neill’s was the Molly Malone statue situated in front of St. Andrew’s church. I had first met Molly at her previous location at the bottom of Grafton Street and was surprised that the “Tart with a Cart” now resided outside of a place of worship; only to find out that St. Andrew’s is a tourist information center. There are areas on Molly that have been shined to a beautiful brassy glow by adoring fans.
We walked passed The Banker’s Pub that at least warranted a photo due to its triangular shape and made our way to The Stag’s Head.
There was a live traditional trio playing outside the neighboring pub and patrons of both were gathered in the small pedestrian-only intersection to listen.
We made our way into The Stags Head and up to the end of the bar, finding our spots for the evening. The Stag’s Head is a pretty famous pub decorated with mahogany woodwork, stained glass, and Connemara marble. Another throw back to the Victorian age. The bartenders and patrons were very friendly there.
Bill and I settled up to our drinks as two young men approached to order theirs. They would make our pub-crawl memorable by the end of the evening. Alex and Michael were young German fellows with impeccable English. They both worked at a large, international, search-engine company based out of Dublin (starts with a “G”).
They introduced us to “Baby Guinness” and provided many servings of those to us as the night wore on. “What is a baby Guinness,” you ask? Imagine a shot glass filled about 2/3 of the way with Kahlua and topped with a nice little layer of Bailey’s Irish cream. Delightful!
A short-time later, 62 year old Damien joined our group at the bar. After introducing himself to Michael and Alex he expressed his relief that they were Germans-with-impeccable-English and not Americans. Of course I let him know my displeasure with that. We then engaged in much discussion about politics, unions, the de facto slavery resulting from illegal immigration in both of our countries, and eventually; horse-racing. Damien would occasionally step out to bet on a horse race, never returning with winnings.
Before the end of the night we were joined by two young American lads whose family had immigrated from Donegal. They were returning to Ireland for the first time since they were pre-schoolers. They were both adorably young, excited, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Next our group added a father and his 18-year old son from The Netherlands. The son was promised a week-long trip with his dad after graduation and he had selected Dublin. We had so much craic with this international group of strangers! Everyone was quite good natured and (I might add) generous. I drank way too many Baby Guinness before the night was over.
After we decided it was time to try to find our way home, Bill and I stopped into Toscano’s for some “genuine Italian cuisine”. We order garlic bread, pizza, and I ordered a side dish of olives. I’ve had olives once as an appetizer and they were served warm and delicious. These were oddly flavored and must have come from a jar in the fridge. Once again my suggestion to avoid foreign food in Ireland proved to be a wise one – that we did not take. Yikes. We were hungry so we ate, but I wish I had that choice to make over again.
We ended our night with at last stop at Darky Kelly’s and headed off to our room for the night. Bill has decided that he really likes Dublin after all.