April 21: Travel day to Ireland. No problems with any of the Delta flights out of Cedar Rapids or Atlanta; hooked up with the Fosters at their incoming gate in Atlanta and we killed time until our departure of direct flight to Dublin. The flight was over 8 hours flight time.
April 22: Arrived in Dublin at 9:30 their time. Went through Customs (much easier than USA), retrieved our luggage, grabbed a taxi which took us to the Harding Hotel; rooms were available for us to check in, and we agreed to meet in a couple hours. Settled into my room, took a shower, put on my pajamas, and took a nap. Sarah called around 1:00 and we met in the lobby. We took off walking for our first exploration of Dublin. Across the street from our hotel was Christ Church Cathedral which, like many other cathedrals in Europe, is huge. From there we walked to the Dublin Castle which was built in 1204 as a defensive fortification. It was very impressive from the outside with the Record Tower, the last intact medieval tower, not only of Dublin Castle but also of Dublin itself. It functioned as a high security prison and held native Irish hostages and priests in Tudor times. We wandered thru a lovely garden with central courtyard by the Chester Beatty Library and across from the castle. It was a beautiful, sunny day so many people were relaxing in the park atmosphere during their lunch breaks. We proceeded to the Brazen Head Inn for lunch and a Guinness. This is Ireland’s oldest inn established in 1198 and the present building was built in 1754. After a delicious lunch of Seafood Chowder, we continued on our way with the purpose of finding a place to purchase wash clothes. I remembered hotels in Europe, many times, do not have wash clothes but forgot to pack some from home. A local gal told us of a shopping area where there was a Penney’s which we found thanks to Tom’s navigation skills plus having a map. Purchased three wash clothes for €2 and continued on our way. We walked the Temple Bar district and stumbled upon the Norseman Bar so went inside for a beer; I had O’Hara Stout which was quite good. We walked back to the hotel, relaxed in our rooms, went to bar for drink while waiting for Allan and Jeannette. They came and we went to a fish/chip place which was around the corner from our hotel and is considered the oldest fish and chip establishment in Dublin. Ate our dinner on a bench outside a church. We wandered around, got another drink, and went to the hotel to crush with the three of us very tired.
April 23: Met Fosters at 8:00; we had breakfast in the restaurant associated with the hotel. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day so we walked to the Guinness Storehouse. Once there, we started on the self guided tour of the brewing process along with how they made wood barrels, their advertising, had a sample room where they showed the proper way to drink the beer while getting the full bodied taste from it, we learned the correct way how to pour your own using the six-step method…the pour master gave each of us a free pint of beer which we took to the Gravity Bar, the high point of the storehouse which provides a 360 view of Dublin and beyond. We ate lunch at Gilroy’s Restaurant on the 5th level; I had beef and Guinness stew which was excellent. Before leaving the storehouse, we all made purchases at the gift shop.
From there, we walked to Kilmainham Gaol which opened in 1796 and served as both a jail and debtors prison. In reality, this jail was actually used by the British as a political prison. Many who fought for Irish independence were held or executed here. Kilmainham was finally shutdown on July 16, 1924. It was an interesting place and the tour guide provided an excellent overview of its history. We walked to the National Museum of Arts to look in their gift shop.
On Saturday we will leave Dublin by train and, because the train station was near, we walked to the Heuston Station where we inquired about the departure schedule; we will leave on the 10:15. Next destination was heading toward our hotel. Ended up at the Brazen Head for liquid refreshment while waiting for a call from Allan. When I did talk to him, it was decided he would not come into the downtown area so we ordered our evening meal at the Brazen Head. After eating, we returned to our hotel and went our separate ways; time around 8:45.
April 24: Had breakfast at Beshoff Brothers on our way to Trinity College; had the mini Irish breakfast which was quite good except the sausage which had an unusual flavor. Before entering the college, we found a great gift shop where I purchased a couple items. And then we entered into Trinity, a place established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 for the purpose of establishing the Protestant way. We were interested in seeing the Book of Kells but the line was so long that we did not want to spend our morning standing in line. So we walked about the area which is 47 acres of grounds.
Once we left the college, we headed for the O’Connell Bridge and O’Connell Street on the other side of the river. We took the O ‘Connell Street stroll recommended by Rick Steves. The street is a 45-yard-wide promenade with lots of history so there are lots of statues and monuments. At the base of the street is a statue of Daniel O’Connell who was “The Liberator” for founding the Catholic Church and demanding Irish Catholics rights in the British Parliament. Others points of interest was Millennium Spire, General Post Office where the Easter Uprising began in 1916, Moore Street market, Garden of Remembrance, Charles Stewart Parnell monument…Parnell was a visionary of a modern, free Irish country made up of Catholics but not set up as a religious state, and Dublins’ Writers Museum. We ate lunch at Parnell Street Bar and Grill where they had a delicious vegetable wrap on their menu.
Next we walked to St. Michener Church which has a crypt of mummies; guide made the tour quite interesting. Jameson Distrillery for another tour which detailed the whiskey making process and had a tasting at the end.
By this time, it was 6:00; Allan called and we decided to meet him at the Brazen Head. After a drink, we went to the Porter House for dinner. There was a 45 minute wait but it went quite quickly. We then walked to the Harp Bridge which was quite impressive even in the rain. Allan then lead us to the Beer Dock, a bar where we had a drink while drying off. On our way back to the hotel, I discovered I left my rain coat at the bar so we said good night to Allan and headed back for it which meant, by the time we retrieved my coat and got back to the hotel, it was 11:30 and time for bed.