Earlier this month, I finally made it to Ireland!
It seems crazy that after jetting off all over the world, I have only just set foot on our neighbouring isle for the first time. I have to admit – I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dublin, but it was definitely a city that took me by surprise. I thought perhaps it would just feel like any other city – and to be honest, it kind of did – so I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, which is why we only planned a day there.
That and it was a bank holiday weekend, so accommodation had skyrocketed beyond any reasonable budget, which is why we opted to stay in Galway. See, there’s a method to my madness sometimes, even if it’s not very often.
The good thing about Dublin is it’s pretty easy to visit for a day. In fact, that’s what we could have done, without the trip over to Galway, but I knew I wanted to see more of Ireland than just Dublin, and it all worked out pretty well.
Plus you read the title correctly – neither of us like Guinness! That’s right, we are quite possibly the only people to have ever visited Dublin and not visited the Guinness Storehouse!
Here’s what we got up to instead!
Breakfast at The Stage Door Café
I had just happened to stumble across this place on Google Maps, and happened to click on it and happened to investigate further. I CANNOT tell you how glad I am that I did!!
We wandered straight here after getting the bus from the airport, planning to stuff ourselves silly with a hearty Irish breakfast before heading off to Galway.
My heart sank when I saw how full (and small) it was inside, but I knew how good the reviews are and how lovely the service is, so we opted for a table outside. It wasn’t too cold, but it wasn’t ideal. Within minutes, Alan (at least, I can only assume it was Alan!) was outside taking our order, and he asked if we needed any blankets or a hot water bottle. What an absolute gem!!
A couple of minutes after that, he stuck his head out the door again and said if we give him five minutes, he’ll have a table ready for us inside in the warm. Soon after, we were ushered inside while he dashed about making sure everyone was happy.
Legitimately – and this is saying a lot – this was the most friendly service I’ve ever seen in a café! Alan was complimenting everyone (or telling the hungover lads that they looked rough and he’ll fix them up!) and was absolutely wonderful.
Plus the food was delicious and just what we needed!
Honestly, this was the only place in Dublin that we came for breakfast, and I’m not one to say “this is the best place even though I’ve only tried one lol” but I don’t think you could find anywhere better. It’s central, reasonably priced (especially for Temple Bar!), and it’s deservedly the #1 rated café on TripAdvisor.
I took away a postcard – it says “there are no strangers here, only friends we have yet to meet”, which sums it all up really. Irish hospitality at its best.
A wander around Temple Bar
We had some time to kill before our bus, so we took a wander around the famed Temple Bar. I’ll be honest with you – I’d set myself up to be disappointed by Temple Bar, but on a Sunday morning it was quiet and really quite lovely. I liked all the pubs, and we imagined how different it was going to be the following evening when we were back here.
I’d also read a couple of things about street art tours in Dublin, and as you probably know by now, I’m a sucker for street art, but I think the two best streets for it are supposed to be Crown Alley and Bow Lane. We pretty much stumbled across Crown Alley as we wandered around Temple Bar, and… honestly, it’s cool, but there’s not much of it.
I found some more around the corner, and this lovely looking place, but other than that, it’s not much to write home about.
Of course, I had to find the Molly Malone statue, but I did not rub her boobs! “Why the hell would you do that?” you’re asking incredulously. Well, it’s supposed to bring you good luck, and her boobs are very shiny so obviously lots of other people do it! Not me, though. Sorry Molly.
We were off to a flying start in Dublin, and I already couldn’t wait to come back – but we were about to jump on a bus to the other side of Ireland, so any exploring outside of Temple Bar would have to wait.
We arrived back in Dublin the next day at exactly the same time as we left though, so let’s carry on and pretend nothing happened!
The National Leprechaun Museum
I was almost tempted to go back to Stage Door if I’m honest, but with limited time in Dublin, we had a few other things on our list!
The first of these, obviously, because it’s me, was a bit ridiculous.
We rocked up to the National Leprechaun Museum in the hopes that we’d be able to get tickets there. Luckily it was no problem at all, and we booked in for 12pm.
The National Leprechaun Museum is 16€ which on the surface feels a bit steep (although this is Dublin, after all) – but it was totally worth it!
Our guide, Andy, was absolutely fantastic as he took us through tales and legends of leprechauns and Ireland’s mythical wonders. He was also hilarious, and being a short Irish guy, kept poking fun at himself. I wonder if all the guides are short guys?! I hope so.
The museum is also set up really well – it’s whimsical and fun! It starts off with a tunnel into the land of legends, and there’s a room full of huge furniture, in which I obviously ran over to the nearest chair and tried to scramble up. As I failed miserably, I realised everyone in the room was laughing at me. Ash, instead of giving me a leg up, stood and laughed with them! Actually, I think he just had his face in his hands. That sounds more likely.
Anyway, I gave up and opted for an easier chair instead, so at least I could get one silly photo. Yay!
There’s also a “forested” area, which looks really cool! We sat down to listen to more folklore stories, and it felt really peaceful. We also walked through a RAINBOW.
The rainbow caused more hilarity, as we were told to do jazz hands and go “oooooooohhhh!!!” as we walked through. I went with full gusto, of course – and so did everyone else! The guide laughed and said he’s had groups of 7-year-olds that have been less enthusiastic than us!
And at the end, you get to meet a real leprechaun!
Actually, he’s pretty giant, but he’s called Seamus and he’s pretty great. S’up Seamus?
Overall, the tour was excellent! Our guide told the stories so dramatically, it was almost theatrical. And beyond the silliness, it was actually pretty interesting hearing magical tales of leprechauns tricking people, and the story of Sétanta, the boy who is almost killed by Culann’s hound, but offers to become the hound himself when he kills it in self-defence. Andy had us on the edge of our seats during that one!
The Oldest Pub In Ireland
We had some time before our next place, so we started walking in the direction of the Guinness Storehouse, and stopped at a pub I wanted to visit.
The Brazen Head opened in 1198, making it Ireland’s oldest pub – and it looks amazing!
It’s like a little castle, complete with a courtyard with a knight.
We were tempted to have food here – and it did look and smell delicious – but decided to wait until dinner, seeing as we would be having an early one. Instead, we were happy just with drinks, although because neither of us like Guinness (have I mentioned that yet?), Ash went for another local brew, and I had a Bulmers.
Which, someone has pointed out, came out in a Bulmers glass… with a Magners logo. Huh?!
Instead of taking the road along the river (which sounds nice but it’s actually the main road out of Dublin, so it was busy and noisy), we decided to walk along a different street, hoping that we wouldn’t get lost.
Amazingly, we found a serene neighbourhood right in the middle of Dublin – you wouldn’t even tell that this was a city!
Eventually – EVENTUALLY! – we reached our next destination.
We very almost didn’t get to go to Kilmainham Gaol. I went to book it a week before our trip, to find that it was completely sold out! I was sorely disappointed as this place sounded great.
However, the day before, I happened to check on the website – to find some cancellation tickets had been released! There were only two times left, so I quickly booked the 3pm slot.
So here we were! Kilmainham is a bit of a walk from the city centre – it was about 40 minutes from Temple Bar, so we got the bus back instead.
The tour is dark and grisly in places, but really interesting. Kilmainham was the main jail in Dublin until 1924, and was also the site of hangings; most notably, Irish revolutionists from the political rebellions.
We were shocked to learn that even children were brought to Kilmainham, and during the infamous potato famine, people deliberately committed crimes so that they would be put in prison, where at least they would be fed. Kilmainham couldn’t deal with this influx of people, and overcrowding became a huge problem.
The most famous part of the prison is the east wing, which let far more natural light in, and was believed to help with the rehabilitation of prisoners.
This is a really interesting tour, and I highly recommend it if you have a chance – but don’t make my mistake, and make sure you book well in advance! Plus it’s only 8€, making it one of the cheaper things to do in Dublin.
Dinner at Thunder Road Café
I had shortlisted a couple of places to eat dinner, and this menu won us over. We headed straight there after the jail tour, as we were starving by now!
Thunder Road Café is an American themed restaurant right in the heart of town, and serves exactly what you’d expect – burgers, wings, cocktails, the lot.
(I’ve just realised that if you sign up to the VIP Club, you get free cocktails! Check though, I haven’t looked at the terms & conditions)
Everything was delicious and the service was great – they have a light thing that you turn upside down so it glows red, and someone immediately comes over. A really good idea in a big, busy restaurant!
Unfortunately, Thunder Road meant that we were at the end of the road on our fleeting visit to Ireland.
I really enjoyed Dublin, but I will concede that it’s expensive as hell, and in that respect, I’m glad we only had a day there. We also did everything that we really wanted to do, so for us, a day was just about enough.
That said, I’d be more than happy to go back and explore more! There is a lot we missed – this itinerary is way different to most people’s, and we didn’t even see the Book Of Kells (because it’s 14€ to see a fancy library, I mean come on, Dublin! Okay obviously there’s more than that, but you know what I mean).
So who knows? We definitely want to see more of Ireland, so we may well find ourselves back in Dublin one day!
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