An October 2002 trip
to Dublin by Carmen
Quote: On days four and five of our self-drive trip through Ireland, we took advantage of all that Ireland's city life had to offer. We topped off the trip in the capital city, and braved the weather to enjoy the sights.
I also enjoyed seeing the city on the Dublin Bus tour. Less walking, less getting wet in the rain, more information from the bus driver, etc.
The Dublin Bus tour will take you to all the top spots, let you get on and off as you please, and keep you dry if the weather's a bit drippy. I also really enjoyed the Guiness tour, and the pubs that offered the traditional Irish music and dancing.
Hotel | "Seefin B&B"
One of the challenges we faced when planning our trip was finding a B&B with availability in or around the Dublin area, and this was at least a month in advance. We found a room at this particular B&B pretty much sight unseen. All we had was a listing in a B&B book and an email. (firstname.lastname@example.org) The proprieter was nice enough, the breakfast was good (it was the first time we'd seen American cereal - Cocoa Puffs! We were getting pretty tired of eggs after 5 days). However, the B&B was pretty small. No sitting room available, and the room itself was so small it was hard to put your pants on without bumping into something. I told my friend that if our beds had been any closer together, we'd have been married.
Towels were provided, no washcloths. (See my overall Ireland travel tips journal for B&B tips.) The bathroom was just as small, drying off with a towel was a challenge to avoid the sink and the toilet, ha.
All in all, the experience wasn't that bad. The home was right off the bus route, the #150 will take you right into the city for 1.30 euros. It was in a nice area, though the proprieter wasn't the best of direction-givers -- a general Irish problem. But as I said she was nice, and it was a place to lay our tired heads.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 27, 2002
20 Rossmore Grove
Hotel | "Jury's Custom House"
Jury's Custom House is pretty centrally located in the new financial district near O'Connell Street It's listed as a three-star hotel. Each room had a television, hair dryer and a coffee tray , and our room had two double beds with a private bath. The hotel boasted that both Trinity College and Temple Bar were a 10 minute walk away. Um, unless you're a speed walker, don't count on it. I'd say more like 15-20 minutes away. I didn't think it was near much of anything as far as tourist sites go.
It was warm and clean, which is about as much as I can say good about the place. The light fixtures were cracked and had holes in them, the room was right over the street so it was pretty noisy at night. And I expected the B&Bs not to offer washclothes to the visitors, but I certainly thought the hotel would spare the expense. Not so with this hotel. (See my overall Ireland travel tips journal for B&B tips.)
The front desk staff was nice enough, but really the customer service wasn't the best. They were slow to do everything, and not really interested in going out of their way to make you more comfortable. They also acted like they didn't even live in Dublin. They weren't really good at helping you pick -- for example -- a good pub for the night.
There's a parking garage that you need to park in behind the hotel - but not for free. If you can remember to get your ticket validated, it'll cost you 8.30 euros per 24 hours to park there.
Even the hotel restaurant was below par. The food wasn't very tasty, and even the Irish breakfast -- which consists of eggs and bacon mostly -- wasn't even good. How can you mess up eggs and bacon?
Overall, it was below par by my standards, and my standards aren't usually that high when it comes to hotels. On a scale of 1-10, I'd say it was about a 4.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on October 27, 2002
Jurys Inn Custom House
CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY
353 1 6075000
Restaurant | "The Shack Restaurant"
The ambiance would have been terribly romantic had I been there with a sweetie, but my friend and I enjoyed it despite our singleness. The lighting was low, the fireplace at the front was roaring (which was good since we were cold and damp), and the walls were decorated with modern, colorful paintings.
I had Cajun chicken, which had a spicy brown sauce over it, served with boiled potatoes and veggies. (You'd never expect boiled potatoes in Ireland, huh? *sarcasm*) My friend had the Chicken Shack, which had a tomato spicy sauce over it. For dessert, I had Banoffi - a traditional Irish desert with bananas and toffee, made into a pie. Yummie!
The service was excellent, and our waiter Sean was a cutie! Might move back to Ireland for him! ;) Anyway, he was nice enough to tell us the best pub in all of Dublin, that is, if you want Irish music and dancing - Knight's Bridge Inn. And the cutie watier turned out to be the only person in Ireland that gave us good directions. Ha.
Tip: If you fill out the comment card and hand it in, you'll get 10% off your meal.
Perhaps it was the mood we were in, or the cute waiter, but on a scale of 1-10, I'd give The Shack an 8-and-a-half.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 27, 2002
24 Essex Street East
+353 1 679 0043
There's a bit of emotion that poured over me as I stepped onto the grounds. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.
St. Patrick's is open from 9-6 (at least when we were there. I'm told the hours change at different times of the year. And it's not open at certain times on Sundays unless you're worshipping.) I didn't mind the $3.50 euro charge for admission - I just hoped it went towards upkeep of the church, or towards helping the community or something. I also dropped some coins into the organ fund and lit two candles and prayed about some important things. Fear not, if you're not Catholic (I'm protestant), there are some pre-written prayers for you to recite.
They allow you to take as many pictures as you like, which was nice. However, because of the dark space, you better have a camera with some low-light settings. The stained glass windows were fabulous, and the detail work was astounding.
I had never heard of it, but there was a door of reconciliation on display. The story goes that two opposing factions were fighting, one ran into the cathedral. The other wanted them to come out, and a truce was suggested. The leader on the inside cut a hole in the wall and stuck out his hand as a show of good faith - kinda gutsy, because it could've been cut off! Door of Reconciliation
The only thing that bothered me a bit was the commercialization of the experience with a gift shop in the cathedral itself. I mean, is this there when people are worshipping on Sundays? Again, I hope the money goes to the church.
Overall a must see, and a grand experience.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Saint Patrick's Close
+353 (1) 453-9472
At his suggestion, we think we visited the second best pub in Ireland -- Gogarty's. It's divided into several levels, with two pubs (larger one downstairs and a smaller one upstairs), a restaurant and a B&B on the upper floors. The smaller pub plays host to Irish music each night around 9:30-ish. Seems to me the music should be downstairs, because the muscians packed the house -- it was standing room only.
Beneath the "No Spitting" sign painted on the rafters -- ha -- played a band that was Irish through and through. The lead singer in the band had a voice that would lull a baby to sleep. We managed to stake out some seats, and right by the musicians too. We clapped and swayed and sang until we nearly pooped out. The bar maids were super nice, and even sang along with the band.
We didn't have any food -- as they seemed to stop serving around 9 p.m., but managed a couple of pints of Murphy's. It was a great way to spend our last night in Dublin. I give Gogarty's two thumbs up!
Attraction | "Trinity College and the Book of Kells"
Downstairs is where you'll find on display the Irish medieval gospel manuscripts, most importantly, the Book of Kells. This is a manuscript of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Created over 1000 years ago by Irish monks, the book is lavishly decorated in Latin, with many Christian symbolic drawings - from animals to the Celtic cross.
The cost to see the Book of Kells is 7 euros, and the times of admission are a bit tricky. Mon-Sat 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. - and they kick you out promptly at 5. Sundays 12 - 4:30 from October until May, and 9:30-4:30 in the summer.
The most facinating part is seeing the history behind it, how the books were bound, how they got the colors they used, what monks were in charge of what tasks, etc. My favorite thing was reading the poem written by a monk about he and his cat, Pangur Ban.
You are not allowed to take pictures inside the display, but there are very good pictures on postcards in the gift shop.
Having now done this, I wouldn't say it's a must-see if your cramped on time, but I'd say if you have an hour or so to spare, take a look.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 27, 2002
Book of Kells
Trinity College Library
+353 1 677 2941
Attraction | "The Ha' Penny Bridge"
The only problem with our visit to the Ha' Penny Bridge was that 1. It was night and dark and 2. It was pouring rain. However, it didn't dull my excitement -- though my travel buddy thought I was crazy. All this over a bridge! It was so pretty all lit up, and I felt a sense of history as I skipped across it. Unfortunately for me, there was a big puddle on the other side of the bridge, which a car ran through and soaked us with after our crossing.
Some history of the bridge. Officially the Wellington Bridge, the Ha' Penny Bridge got its nickname in honor of the half penny toll to cross the bridge over the River Liffey (toll ceased being taken mid 1900s). Opened in 1816, it was the only pedestrian bridge to cross the river until the Milennium Bridge was built in 2000.
Important for no other reason than that it's become quite a symbol for Dublin, and it's a beautiful bridge that you can cross without fear of Dublin traffic. :)
Ha'penny Bridge-Liffey Bridge
Over the Liffey River
+353 1 605 7700
Attraction | "Dublin City Tour"
We had been blessed with two whole hours without rain, and really wanted to ride atop the double-decker bus. Alas, so did everyone else. When we first got on board, there were no empty seats up top. However, after hopping off and then back on at St. Patrick's Cathedral, we managed to stake out a seat on level 2. It was nice to have a better view of the sights that the bus driver was describing.
There are 16 stops along the tour, and you can get on and off the bus for any of them, and reboard without repaying - just hold on to your tickets. Stops include Trinity College, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Guiness Storehouse, Old Jameson distillery, etc. Meanwhile, the bus driver -- who was a hoot! -- is pointing out sites of interest along the way and telling stories about them. For example, he pointed out Dublin's smallest pub, which holds only 8 people. "You wouldn't want to get drunk in there, if you passed out, there'd be no place to fall." It was probably a bit on the corney side, but fun. We also passed Arthur Guiness's home, his son's home, his statue (think these people are Guiness crazy?)
The tour straight through is 1 hour and 15 minutes, but your ticket is good all day. I recommend this as a great mode of transportation to all the highlights of Dublin.
Hop On Hop Off Dublin Bus Tour
59 O'connell Street
Attraction | "Guiness Storehouse"
Arthur Guiness was an original man, who took a failing brewery and made it work. With quite an original lease on the building, good for 9000 years, he went from making just ale, to making both ale and stout, to turning his buisiness into focusing on just the stout business - his black gold.
The tour takes you up the 7 floors of the storehouse, throught the secret formula for the success of Guiness (without really giving you the secret.) The history behind Arthur Guiness and his brewery, the ingredients, etc.
Your ticket is a paperweight with a drop of guiness inside, and at the 7th floor sky bar, you can turn in the wrapper of that paperweight at the bar for a free pint of Guiness, and drink it while looking at the spectacular view that you have of Dublin through the glass windows.
Once you're done, take the lift back down to the first floor to make sure and visit the gift shop - where you can find anything with a Guiness logo on it.
Entrance fee was 12 euros, and worth every penny.
St James's Gate Dublin 8
01 408 4800
Attraction | "Temple Bar area"
We ended up in Temple Bar on our first visit by mere coincidence (seems we found a lot of our Dublin activities that way), as it's where the Number 50 bus dropped us off. It's also a hop, skip and a jump from Trinity College.
Mostly Temple Bar is a younger, hipper crowd. It's a great place to people watch and grab a pint. Much of it is closed off for pedestrians to walk the cobblestone streets without fear from Dublin's crazy drivers.
While we found out about it on our last night there, too late to partake of the fun, Temple Bar is host to a Musical Pub Crawl. It's a crawl of 4 pubs, entertainment from musicians the whole way and a history of Irish Music. It starts at Gogarty's pub - see below.
Here are some of the establishments that we visited while we were there, with a short review of each and a link to the full review.
The Shack Restaurant: This place was great, and the only place we found in our travels that served specialty chicken! Our waiter was not only a cutie, but gave us a great pub recommendation. We had a chance to get in out of the rain, have a pint, warm up, and revive ourselves over some really good food. Read the full entry.
Gogarty's Pub: I think we found the second best pub in Ireland (the first being Knight's Bridge Inn), on the suggestion of the cab driver that took us there. There are two floors, a regular old pub downstairs, and a mini pub upstairs that featured some awesome Irish music. Even the barmaids sang along. Read the full entry.
Temple Bar Square
27 Eustace St
+353 1 677 2397
Attraction | "Knights Bridge Inn"
The Irish dancers were fabulous. The first group was made up of kids, and the second group of teenagers/young adults. Everyone clapped and cheered, and crowded around the stage to see. If you couldn't see, there were tv screens around the bar to help you enjoy the performance.
In addition to the dancing, there are several bands that play throughout the night, and the bar crowd just sings right along with them. Most knew the words, but we didn't. We caught on to a few of the choruses and chimed right in!
The best part of the pub was meeting new people. We met some new friends in the Scottish folks that sat at the table accross from us. We also had a really drunk Irishman thrown out of the bar for harrassing us. It was unpleasant, but the rest of the experience made up for it. One thing about the Irish men, they're persistant, and a little forward! Go in groups.
Knightsbridge Bar at the Arlington Hotel
23-25 Bachelor's Walk
O'Connell Bridge, Dublin
Cary, North Carolina