Sep 22: Dublin City

In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone.
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow
crying Cockles and Mussels, alive, alive, oh!

We arrived, sleepless, at the Dublin airport slightly ahead of schedule and although there was a docking station for us, for some reason they were unable to extend the walkway enough to meet the plane therefore we had to deplane via stairs onto the tarmac.

Interesting to note: whenever I imagined myself arriving in Dublin, I was always walking down the stairs onto the tarmac – just like when deplaning in Hawaii.

We decided to stay at the airport for a bit to get our bearings and wake up a little before heading into the city. Angel’s Share was our introduction to Irish cuisine and a nice one at that!

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We boarded a double-decker bus to Dublin, enjoying the sites on the way, arriving at our stop on O’Connell street a half hour later. The Abbey Hotel on Abbey St. was our home for the night but as it was too early to check-in, we dropped off our luggage and began touring Dublin.

Camera in hand we headed back to O’Connell street and made our way to the ‘Ha Penny Bridge. Thanks to the Makem & Spain brothers song of the same name, this is one place that has been on our “to visit” bucket list for years and is now something we can check off!

With no agenda we just walked and walked and walked and eventually found ourselves in the Temple Bar district and eventually we purchased tickets for the “hop on hop off” bus tours. We boarded the yellow Dublin Cityscape Bus Tour (€10) for two hours of sight seeing from the open top double-decker bus. What a great way to see the city and learn things you wouldn’t otherwise read or learn from travel books not to mention enjoying a beautiful day in a peaceful way. Our first guide was Harry the Hat who was charmingly Irish and full of the gab. Not a moment went by where he wasn’t telling a story or a joke. Half way through the tour, Harry was replaced by Martha. I really enjoyed Martha’s commentary for many reasons but mainly because she gave us a break from the constant chatter we had with Harry and twice she broke out in song!

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The first time was as we passed the famine ship memorial she told us about Annie Moore, who in 1892 was the first immigrant to the U.S. to pass through Ellis Island. Martha then broke out into a haunting but beautiful rendition of “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears”. Shivers ran up and down my spine and my arms as I was so touched by the meaning and feelings behind the words:

“…But it’s not the isle you left behind, that isle of hunger, isle of pain, isle you’ll never see again but the isle of home is always on your mind.”

and I couldn’t help but think of my great great great grandparents – Thomas Quinn and Ellen McHugh – not to mention my great great grandfather Patrick who was but a boy when he came to Canada during the great hunger.

Martha also sang Cockles and Muscles as we neared the Molly Malone statue. Mom and I joined in on the chorus much to Martha’s delight. Funny enough we were the only two on the bus who sang along.

We live in a technological society, which can be a benefit when you want to reach out to people and don’t have cell coverage. Our tour bus had wifi. Yes, it had wifi. During our tour, I was in contact with a high school friend I hadn’t seen in thirty years. We made plans to meet for supper and she suggested we take the train (DART) to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced dun leary). After a short trip back to our hotel to check-in, splash water on my face, grab a granola bar, we were back on the road, making our way to Connolly station and boarding a DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train for Dun Laoghaire. I watched the scenery blur by; houses, fences; stations and then low and behold the  scenery opened up to a view of the Irish Sea! What a treat!

Our stop was soon upon us and as we disembarked (do you disembark a train or is it just a ship?) and found ourselves stuck in the station. There was no clear way out, no door open to the outside world, only openings to the tracks, both sides of the tracks. Little did we know, we just needed to insert our ticket into the machine and voila! the doors open and we can exit the station. Now, to be kind to ourselves – we were operating on no sleep and had been awake over 24 hours at this point. Not to mention the gates were highlighted for pass users and not ticket users like ourselves.

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We walked around the city and enjoyed the amazing sea views. We met up with Trish who graciously introduced us to the swimming hole used by the locals. Yes, people were actually swimming. The water was not warm by any means, at least not to my comfort level, but the locals believe it to be. I was pleasantly surprised at the facility, how well planned out it was and couldn’t get over the fact so many people swam here in the cold water and learned some people swim here year round!

Mom, Trish and I took our shoes off and dipped our feet in the Irish Sea! It was surprisingly warmer than I imagined but, after a few minutes I quickly lost feeling in my feet! 😉

Trish drove us back to Dublin where we enjoyed a delicious fish and chip supper at O’Neil’s. A very unique pub experience with a carvery (my first encounter) and all the the crooks and nannies. We walked through Temple Bar – a very different perspective at night – and across the ‘Ha Penny bridge – also a unique experience at night – and then back to our hotel!

Thanks Trish for making our time in Dublin so special! It was a real treat! 🙂

Tomorrow we’ll visit the Book of Kells, Trinity College and whatever our hearts desire before heading to the airport to pick up the car and head north to Meath.

What I now know: 

You can drink alcohol at 8 am at the Dublin airport.

Dublin is a crazy busy city with insane traffic, especially during morning rush hour.

Cyclists are as unpredictable here as they are at home and I narrowly escaped being mowed down several times even after looking both ways.

As much as I don’t like big cities, everyone needs to visit Dublin City at least once in their lifetime.

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