Today, I took on Dublin by myself. Without the language barrier I have in most other countries, I felt like my bus tour yesterday gave me a good enough feel for the layout of the city to enable me to go out on my own without a proper walking tour.
Seamus dropped me off at the train station this morning. I was surprised that the parking lot was so empty. There were only two cars. I know it is a Saturday, but it really appears the recession is hurting Ireland a lot. Seamus was telling me that his driving time into Dublin is 25 minutes shorter than it was at the time of the economic boom. He only lives about 45 minutes away now, so that is a lot! He also mentioned that about 50,000 of the 65-70,000 high school graduates move out of the country for university and work. It’s an amazing proportion – I suppose that is how you can find Irish people are all over the world. All of our ancestors moved away at some point. Maybe it’s in our blood.
After arriving in Dublin, I took a tram to O’Connell Street which is where I ate lunch yesterday. I walked to a street called Henry Street to try to buy an unlocked cell phone, but we realized that the sim card I bought does not have a pin, so I will have to wait to get back to the UK on Monday. Then, I walked over the River Liffey to Trinity College. It is a beautiful school and has the famous Book of Kells. It is an illuminated manuscript which tells the story of four books of the bible in Latin. It is Dublin’s equivalent of the Mona Lisa.
Then, I walked down to the cultural center of Dublin, Temple Bar. It was filled with pubs, street musicians, and cobblestone streets, but used to be a very bad area of Dublin. The government invested a lot of money into it back in 1988. Now it is safe and beautiful!
Then, I went and had lunch at a restaurant called O’Neill’s which was an Irish pub with a buffet. I had a bowl of Irish Stew. It was phenomenal. I felt like I needed to eat a bowl of stew before I left Ireland.
After, I hopped back on the bus tour I took yesterday because my ticket was valid for two days. I went to the Guinness Storehouse and took a tour that shows how they brew their beer. I’m not a fan of beer, but a lot of people back in the States said it was a must do, regardless. It was a great experience and tour. Surprisingly, I found the beer a bit better here, even though I only finished a quarter of the pint that came free with the tour. What was even more amazing was the view they have from the top of their factory. You can see ALL of Dublin.
Then, I went back to O’Connell Street to meet up with Seamus and his son, James. We went to a place called Eddie Rocket’s for dinner – imagine Johnny Rockets in Ireland. The burgers were great!
On the way home, Seamus told me a brief history of the Irish uprising (Easter Rising) and the IRA. It was really interesting as it has a lot of parallels with the American Revolution. I need to watch a few movies about it when I get back to the States!
Something that is currently being hotly contested in Ireland right now is their upcoming referendum on whether or not to remain in the European Union and allow the Germans to run the Irish monetary policy. Every single street pole has at least one propaganda sign on it! It will be interesting to see what happens. It sounds like they are going to stay in, but only time will tell!
Tomorrow I am going to Leitrim to see where my Grandmother and Grandfather came from as well as visit a few relatives that still live there. I can’t wait to see everything, especially where my grandparents lived!
Note: This post was originally published on May 12, 2012 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe…Again” which chronicled my post-graduation trip across Europe.