In early June my family took a trip to Ireland. The Emerald Isle was on my travel bucket list, so I was thrilled when my parents wanted to travel there. The country is lush and beautiful, filled with friendly people and tasty food and drink. Our Irish journey started in Dublin followed by a trip to the southwestern countryside.
River Liffey in Dublin at sunset
Compared to many U.S. cities, Dublin is fairly small and walkable. When we weren’t walking, we navigated the city on the Dublin Tours Hop on, Hope off bus. It took you in a loop to major tourist destinations in the city. As an added bonus, the drivers added witty commentary as you passed landmarks. The hop on, hop off bus was a great way to see a lot of the city.
Victorian Wing, Kilmainham Gaol
I must admit, I was not up to speed on my Irish history, but after visiting the Kilmainham Gaol, I have a much better sense of the country’s bloody history. Many leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned in this jail. The prison was decommissioned in 1924 after the Irish won their independence from Britain, but many movies, including the original Italian Job, were filmed in the Victorian wing after its closure.
After visiting Kilmainham Gaol, you will be ready for a beer. The Guinness Storehouse is a must for everyone. St. James’s Gate Brewery was opened in 1759 by Arthur Guinness. He signed a 9,000 year lease, so don’t expect the brewery to be going anywhere anytime soon. Take a self-guided tour to learn about Guinness’ history, brewing process and advertising. At the end of the tour, make your way to the Gravity Bar for a pint of Guinness and 360 degree view of Dublin.
Ireland is famous for their sheep and fine wool. A favorite shopping destination was Avoca, which began as a weaving mill. They are famous for their beautiful throws, but they sell much more. I picked up a candle, soap and cookbook as gifts. We also had lunch at the cafe, which served healthy locally sourced food which was extremely tasty. The Suffolk Street store has five different levels for you to shop and explore.
After a long day of touring, beer drinking and shopping, you will be ready for some pub grub. Every restaurant and bar sells fish and chips, but I had my favorite at M.J. O’Neill’s Pub, which was recommend by many locals. You order your meal and drink at the bar and find a table and settle in to listen to some traditional Irish music. It makes for a perfect ending to a great day.