'Brellies on "Standby." Dublin!

Old Feb 27th, 2017, 02:16 AM
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'Brellies on "Standby." Dublin!

The path to this short (2.5 day) half-term city break was not an easy one. A school family offered the services of their visiting 20-something niece for house-sitting and so forth, and after making contact and securing the young woman's assurance and willingness to sit for DDog, I booked our flights. Then, the young woman disappeared from our radar AND after reappearing, failed to meet as scheduled, sending us into scramble mode to find a replacement sitter.  Personal responsibility is difficult for some, I guess.

Thanks to a genuinely thoughtful and responsible classmate of DD who was thrilled to sit for DDog, we departed for Dublin feeling confident that he would be well cared for. In fact, DDog turned out to be the SnapChat star of the sitter's newsfeed. But that is his story to tell.

Travelers: Irish DH; half-Irish DD (15); and myself (Irish by marriage)

Weather: Temperatures were 15ºC each day (mid-February), with considerable breeze. Lots of Dubliners wearing shorts.

Airline: A big thumbs down for Aer Lingus.
The seats and legroom on the plane were most obviously designed by, and for, leprechauns, so poor DH and DD (both at 2 meters+ in height) suffered on the outbound; DH could not even sit with his legs in front of him, and spent half of the 2:20 flight standing. We paid the additional fees for "Exit Row" seats so the return would be bearable for them, and felt incredibly insulted for having to do so. Why are tall persons discriminated against?  On its "domestic" flights Aer Lingus only provides food and beverage for a fee, as well; thankfully we had eaten before our midday flight. Asking for a cup of water was met with a stink-eye, too! Sigh.

Lodging: StayCity ApartHotel ChristChurch
Just, “Meh.” Very clean (except for the windows) and well located, and with super friendly and helpful staff. Ours was a two-bedroom apartment intended for six people, but the hot water gave out after just two of us showered, leaving the hot water hog (that would be me) to shower at night.

Travel Tip: Securing online tickets for all of the sights (of interest to us) in Dublin was a saving grace. We were permitted to enter the Book of Kells exhibit before those without tickets; and, were permitted to tour Christ Church in the late afternoon before closing, while those without tickets were turned away.

Dublin Sights:
With just a few hours of the arrival afternoon remaining, our only order of business was a tour of the Patron Beer of Ireland Brewhouse. Guinness, of course. The tour is self-guided, but rather unfortunately the queue for the, "Pouring Academy," where one learns to pour the perfect pint included with the entrance ticket was absurdly long, so we skipped it in lieu of a real pint at dinner.

Dinner that evening was at another institution, Ireland's oldest pub, The Brazen Head. In spite of its popularity, we and perhaps one other group seemed to be the only non-locals (that would be a good thing). We settled in to a cozy table by the fireplace for a couple of pints and classic Irish fare, and it was a lovely evening.

Our full day in Dublin proper was Irish History Immersion!
Trinity College, Ireland's oldest university and one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland (and founded by Queen Elizabeth I).  Lots of bragging rights!

The college library is home to, amongst its vast collection of ancient manuscripts, The Book of Kells, an exquisitely illustrated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. It is Ireland's oldest and most cherished national treasure. Though permitted only to look at two of the 340 pages (and absolutely take no photos!); the supplementary information boards wove the tale of the 9th century monks, living on a small island of the Hebrides who created these books. The tour, and the Book itself, were well worth having made the time for.

Christ Church. Nearly a millennium old; founded by Vikings and rebuilt in stone by the Normans; and converted to a Cathedral by Henry VIII. And if that isn't enough history to make your head swirl, the first performance of Handel's Messiah was sung here in 1742.

Not the oldest, but the tallest and the largest cathedral in Ireland dedicated to its Patron Saint, St. Patrick's. Built on a former island, the waterways of which are now the park, it is near this site that St. Patrick performed baptisms in the 6th century. Inside the cathedral is the cover for the well used by St. Patrick.

Keeping within the Irish history theme, the National Leprechaun Museum. Not at all hokey, but a rather enjoyable introduction to Irish folklore. According to folklore, Leprechauns were clever shoemakers that roamed about, making merry music on their flutes in order to encourage people to dance; and when people wore out their dancing shoes, the Leprechauns were more than willing to repair the shoes, for a gold coin, which they collected in pots...

The Leprechauns even had a uniform of sorts, brown jackets with ties, like perhaps tiny Boy Scouts. But leave it to Walt Disney to forever alter the image of the Leprechaun. In 1959 Disney released, Darby O'Brien and the Little People, projecting the tiny shoemakers dressed in green and with funny hats.

The remainder of the tour was light-hearted. We "shrunk" to the size of a Leprechaun; listened to beautiful stories of the fairies and other magical creatures from which Ireland was birthed; passed through a rainbow to view an authentic pot of gold; and then emerged life-size to meet a "real" Leprechaun. Fun!

But the day was not over! After another Irish Pub lunch (of course), we toured the Easter Uprising Museum, located at the headquarters of the Irish Rebellion in 1916 and was the movement which paved the way for Irish Independence in 1922. A moving and well told story, better experienced in person than through any photos I could have taken. And finally, a walk in the late afternoon to the Famine Memorial at Dublin Port.

Making our way back to the apartment, we did a little shopping for Irish woolens and enjoyed a pause for tea at Kilkennys. Kilkennys was wonderful for shopping, too, though I was disappointed with the scant Belleek collection.

We had the luck of the Irish with us on this carefully-scripted day; and though the, 'Brellies were on "Standby," not one drop of rain fell on us.


Just a short train hop from Dublin lies the lovely fishing village of Howth. The forecast was, "Typical Ireland," according to our concierge, "A bit drizzly all day out at the harbour."  Her words did not dampen our moods because, seashore! When we lived in the U.S., our summer holiday was Cape Cod; achieving that sort of bliss is a little difficult in landlocked Austria, so we become very excited at the sight of sand and the sound of surf.

As the train reached the Howth station, our eyes widened as if it were Christmas morning. Not just seaside, but a beach. At low tide, even! We scrambled off the train and to the beach straight away, with nary a drop of rain falling from the ever-lightening skies.

The plan (there is always a plan) had been to hike the cliffs of Howth, but that took a bit of a backseat for the time being because we simply had to beach comb. Ginormous razor clams and Cockles were among the treasures we carefully wrapped and brought home.

Beachcombing makes for hungry tummies, we know this from experience. Cue a table at the famous Bischoff's Fish 'n Chips, steps away. Marinated anchovies to start, and then the fresh caught North Atlantic Cod and Chips (with pea mash, naturally). Silence, and perhaps even a few weepy eyes, at the table as we treasured each morsel. With pints of Guinness.

After lunch we were feeling a little bit lazy about hiking up to the cliffs, but thanks to the friendly and helpful waitstaff (as were all of the people we engaged with on this holiday) we learned that there was a bus to the summit. Could the day get any better? (Spoiler: it does!)

The path to the cliffs was trimmed with yellow Furze, and Dublin Bay seemed to stretch on forever in the background. The aroma of a coastal spring was heady, and so soothing to our spirits. We lingered along the coastal paths a bit before walking back toward the harbor, past the ruins of St. Mary's Church. By this time the sun had come out, casting the dark ruins beautifully against the shimmering blue water of the harbour.

Making our way through the harbour, what did we see but Harbour Seals! One of our favorite activities on Cape Cod was to spend time at Chatham Harbour when the fishing boats were arriving, just to see the seals. And, to think that they traveled across the pond to see us! We and several others politely interfered with the fishermen as we snapped away at the adorable beggars. After the last bins of crabs and cockles were loaded, we, like the seals, headed elsewhere. In our case, to the return train to Dublin.

As we reached the train station, the first drops of rain began to fall. ‘Tis the luck of the Irish.

And just like that, the holiday was over.

Thank you for reading.
fourfortravel is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2017, 04:23 AM
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Enjoyed your report very much. Thank you.
Sassafrass is online now  
Old Feb 27th, 2017, 02:56 PM
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Very good report. I love that you enjoyed one of my favorite places. I did not know that about the bus to the summit in Howth. Last visit it was windy and rainy so we opted out but did have a great lunch there as usual.
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Old Feb 27th, 2017, 09:40 PM
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Funny about that Disney leprechaun movie. I was a very little girl and that was the first movie I ever saw. It terrified me and to this day I remember that scary leprechaun dude and the rainbow with the pot of gold.
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Old Feb 28th, 2017, 06:01 AM
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And to add to that, I enjoyed your TR very much. My DH wants to go to Ireland and so some trip reports like this are perfect for whets the travel appetite.
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Old Feb 28th, 2017, 09:48 AM
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nice report, you missed the King Citric in Howth
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Feb 28th, 2017, 10:17 PM
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Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

Sundriedtopepo, none of us had even heard of the movie; and the few photos in the museum were enough to scare us into never wanting to see the movie, either!

Macross, the bus was easy to catch, just a few steps from the train station. In retrospect taking the bus to the summit worked ideally, as the walk up is largely residential and not terribly interesting.
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