Ireland, Ireland, how can I even begin to describe the magic that is Ireland?
I had never been before, but my parents asked me to come along with them after they had visited with me in England for a while. Who am I to turn down a paid trip to Ireland, right? (Seriously, thanks mom and dad).
First of all, I have to mention that Dublin is a literature student’s dream. Home to Joyce, Swift, Beckett, Wilde, and many more. For good reason, Dublin has been named the UNESCO city of literature.
Some personal literary highlights:
Visiting the Writers Museum and seeing a copy of Ulysses signed by James Joyce
Wandering around Dublin on the writers tour seeing famous places that were both written about and associated with writers (for example, the Brazenhead Pub, an 800 year old pub once frequented by James Joyce!)
I was so inspired by the city that had inspired so many writers that I have read and admired to leave their legacy. It’s something incredibly special to be somewhere that you know for a fact James Joyce has been, perhaps sitting in corner of the pub, mulling over the fate of Leo and Molly Bloom.
We did a bit more than just intellectual stuff, even managed to have a bit of boozy fun! We completed tours of both the Jameson and Guinness factories, which was great fun. If I had to recommend one over the other, I would go with Guinness. They’ve converted the old storehouse into a massive, 7 floor, self-guided tour space. The visuals alone are kind of overwhelming, but it was really interesting and good fun! Dad and I loved the free samples, culminating in a free pint on very top floor, with amazing 360 degree views of Dublin!
Something I cannot recommend enough is a show by the Irish House Party. We opted for the dinner beforehand, which was a great decision. We ended up at a table with a couple from Australia, two men from New York, and 3 folks from Norway. It’s kind of amazing how people from all over the world can end up in one place, experiencing the same thing. After a great dinner, we went to this tiny theatre in the basement of a bar to see the band perform some traditional Irish tunes. They were charismatic, funny, and beyond talented. What a great show! We got an explanation of the traditional Irish instruments they were playing, some fantastic jokes, a great display of Irish dancing, and a truly wonderful show. My favourite part was when they played “Belle of Belfast City,” which was the only song I knew. I have some really great memories associated with that song from my days working at Original Kids Theatre Camp, and it put a huge smile on my face.
Our last day in Dublin was spent going up North to see a bit more of the country. We booked spots on a Paddywagon Tour taking a day trip to Carrick a Rede, Giant’s Causeway, and Belfast. Some group tours can make you feel a bit like sheep being herded from site to site, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one! It was a great way to see some fantastic sights!
We were all a bit nervous to cross the Rope Bridge at Carrick a Rede. It started out as merely rope, a way for fisherman to cross over and check their lines. It has since been reinforced with steel cables (something my dad was really happy to see!), but it didn’t make it any less nerve wracking walking 60 feet above the ocean.
The highlight of my time in Ireland was without a doubt the Giant’s Causeway. This is a must-see for anyone spending time in Ireland. Legend says it was created by an Irish giant in order to cross to Scotland to fight another giant. There’s something so strange and wonderful about the thousands of geometric stones rising from the ground. I could have stayed there all day, watching the water come in and out across the stones. Tread carefully across the stones if you do go, because they can get very slippery!
I made my way very carefully to the edges to get a better view, and it just took my breath away thinking about how long those stones have been there, how many people have seen them, and the incredible geographical wonders that this world has to offer.