I’ve always been quite a fan of Irish culture. I mean, a culture where beer is so intricately weaved within the fabric of life is a culture that immediately piques my interest. I’ve often heard stories of beautiful pubs on almost every street, some dating back to almost 1000 years, and at these pubs, Irishmen entertaining crowds with hearty jigs and reels. I’ve heard of beautiful landscapes that take your breath away. A history that is intriguing and complex. Ireland has just always seemed so “traditional” to me. So naturally, when I got the chance to visit this wonderful country, I immediately jumped at the opportunity, and I must say, I am absolutely ecstatic that I made the decision because Ireland completely surpassed all my expectations. Let me tell you a little bit about my trip to Ireland.
Where I stayed…
I stayed in Dublin which is the largest city in Ireland, and home to the famous Guinness Storehouse, and Jameson Whiskey Distillery. Typically when people visit Ireland, they stay in Dublin. Honestly, though, I was a little hesitant to stay here, mainly because I hate being in places that I feel are overly touristy, and I just felt like Dublin might be one of those places. However, I’m very happy that I decided to stay here. Why is that? Really because of the wonders of Irish culture. Let me elaborate on what I mean.
When I go to “touristy” places, I get rather irritated because of what I feel like is the abandonment of tradition for the gathering of riches. I hate being on the coast of a country like Panama and hearing Elvis being sung and being offered lasagna and salad for food. I hate looking for a traditional place to eat in Taiwan and only seeing overly priced American food everywhere. I do understand why it’s done, but it’s just very frustrating to me. Why would I want to go to another country so you can just give me what I could get where I come from? Call me crazy, but I personally feel like that takes away a lot of the excitement of travel. Now true, some places in Dublin did have this issue, as I walked down the street I would hear music coming from pubs that could hardly be considered Irish, but it was very easy to find nice traditional pubs playing awesome traditional Irish music. And I loved it!
So anyway, that’s why I was not disappointed at all about the location of my stay. Though it was somewhat touristy, it contained all the elements that I wanted to see. But also what made my stay location great, was that Jacob’s Inn, the hostel I stayed at, was pretty close to the city center, so there were so many places within just a 20 minute walk from me. For example, both the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Storehouse were within walking distance which was fantastic.
A Great Irish Experience
I arrived in Dublin at about 9:30 PM and got to my hostel at about 10:30 PM, and the first thing that iI did was walk to the pub that was just a stones throw away from my Hostile. Upon entering I was greeted by a group of 5 Irish lads who gave me nothing less than a true Irish welcome. Asking my name in loud and boisterous speech and basically forcing me to have a pint with them, something which of course I didn’t refuse. It was great! They bought my first pint of Guinness ever in Ireland and we drank and laughed heartily together. I couldn’t have asked for anything better to introduce me to this beautiful country. After we walked around a wee bit and they took me to a place to grab some good Chinese food we parted ways, not without them first saying multiple times, “This is a fine lad!”. Seriously, what a start to the trip!
More Beer and Good Food and a Distillery
The next day, I did what any person must do, I went out, ate good Irish food, and drank a good Irish Stout. The pub that I went to was named Oneill’s. A very traditional pub that I feel like spoke the essence of Ireland. I ordered Bangers and Mash, a meal which I’ve had before and honestly am not too fond of, but the way they cooked it was to absolute perfection. (Now I know that this isn’t a traditional Irish dish, but it was super good, so who cares.) The food with the nice brew led to quite a satisfying meal. I was pretty tired from the previous day of traveling so I went back to the hostile after the meal and just rested up for the rest of the day, preparing for my journey the next day.
Day 3 begins with nothing else but, beer. (Are you seeing a trend here?) I had a red ale brewed at the oldest Pub in all of Ireland. A pub called The Brazen Head. For food I had an Irish stew made of lamb. Oh it was so delicious, and the beer was simply delightful. I also found out that that night they would be having live music at the pub, so I marked the time on my phone and made off to my next destination, which was the Jameson Distillery.
The distillery tour was pretty cool, it was probably the most interactive tour I’ve done, and by interactive I mean, it had the most videos and light shows of any whiskey tour I’ve done. The taste testing was a lot of fun too. But honestly, what made the tour so great was the tour guide. Unfortunately I cannot remember her name, I know, shame on me, but she was wicked cool. Super bubbly personality, funny, and just a cool girl. Afterwards I chatted up with her for a little bit. I could tell when I listened to her give the presentation that most of what she was saying was verbatim from what she had memorized and I was interested to see how difficult that was. Apparently, all those who do tours there are given about 8 days to memorize everything, which they do, and then they give the tours. But I’m sure most don’t give them the way that my tour guide did. I’m so bummed that I can’t remember her name, because honestly, I feel it’s worth it if you go to ask for a tour that is guided by her specifically.
After a couple shots of whiskey, I walked around the downtown area for a little bit. Checked out Dublin castle (which was pretty neat and I’d recommend checking out), the park by Beatty library and some other cool spots, and then I headed back to the hostile to rest up a bit before my later outing to watch the live music.
Live Irish Music…Epic!
The time quickly came for me to go watch the live music and as I got closer and closer to the pub, I could hear the beautiful sounds of Ireland approaching. There was a guitar player and a fiddle player, and they killed it. They played so many classic Irish tunes and we all sang and we all drank, and it was a good evening. I of course couldn’t help but to dance to the lively music. I’m sure many looked at me like I was crazy because I felt that music so much, but hey, who cares, when I hear music I dance my heart out, it’s in my blood.
I honestly would love to write a whole book about how much I appreciated listening to Irish music in Ireland with good brews. It was such a magical moment for me. Almost surreal. I’ve always absolutely loved the music of Ireland and to listen to it in that setting was just perfect. If you go to Ireland you absolutely must go to a place playing live Irish music, you will not regret it. And funny enough, guess what happened while I was there? Someone bought me another pint of Guinness. Oh yea. That’s right!
After that I went home and got some rest, preparing for the big next day when I would visit the Cliffs of Moher.
The Cliffs of Moher
Ah, the Cliffs of Moher. For years, I have wanted to see these beautiful cliffs, and upon finally arriving, they did not disappoint at all. Kilometer after kilometer of some of the most breathtaking landscape that I have ever seen. The only qualm that I had, was the fact that I was only given about 1 ½ hrs to explore. What would be awesome, is to go up there for an afternoon and maybe do a picnic or something, but regardless, it was an awesome experience and I loved every minute of it. I went there using Galway Tours. They were decent, but honestly nothing really stood out about them. I believe you could probably choose just do about any tour company and have a good experience there.
On the way to the Cliffs of Moher, we made a stop in Galway. And Galway was a nice city with a lot of history and culture. Once again, my qualm was the fact that we were only given about 1 ½ hours to eat and explore, and it really just wasn’t enough time. I honestly can’t say a whole lot about Galway simply because I lacked the sufficient time to truly take it in, but I’ve heard many great stories about it, so I would recommend that you check it out, but try to do so for a day or two.
The Guinness Storehouse
Now, unfortunately, because I did this trip so close to when I arrived toIreland, I had to fight some serious jetlag, and the fact that the tour started at 6:45am did not help at all! Actually, it was so bad, that I got sick that very day, and for the next two days, I was pretty much out of commission, which was a serious blow, because that meant that I wouldn’t be able to explore Ireland as much as I had hoped, but it turned out being not that bad because I was still able to check out some places in the city and still do another tour.
One of the places that I went to was of course, the famous, Guinness Storehouse, the must-see place for all travelers to the illustrious Dublin. The Guinness tour was really interesting, especially if you like beer. There was a lot of history not just about Guinness but about the evolution of brewing and drinking in Ireland. It was probably the best brewing tour I’ve ever done, and I’ve done quite a few in my time. The history of Guinness itself was fascinating as well, and I think that you’ll appreciate it more while you’re in Dublin because you’ll never be anywhere in the world where more Guinness is drunk.
Fun fact: Arthur Guinness got the St. James’s Gate Brewery for 45£/month for a 9000 year lease. So they still pay the same amount to this day.
A Tour Of the Celtic History of Ireland
After resting up, I was finally well enough to go on another tour. Which I did on Tuesday. Initially, I wanted to go to Cork, a city which I heard is quite fascinating, but upon some thought, I decided instead to do a tour called, “A Tour of Celtic Ireland Through the Boyne Valley”, and I’ve got to tell you, that was the best decision I could have made, because this tour was EPIC!! It blew the Cliffs of Moher tour out of the water, which is surprising being how much I anticipated that. Now why do I say this tour was amazing?
The history was so cool to hear about. I was completely unaware of how far back Ireland is aware of their history. I mean, we’re talking about 5000 years. And to hear about all that history was just so insightful. Hearing about the early settlers and their religious beliefs, the division of Ireland into the separate kingdoms. Being at the spot where they held the coronation of the High Kings. Seeing Castles that date back centuries, and monolist that date back thousands of years. (Much modern literature and entertainment is taken from Irish Culture.)
At one point you climb to a summit overlooking all of Ireland, and apparently on a clear day you can see up to 80% of Ireland. I mean how cool does all that sound? And I’m just barely scratching the surface. And the tour guides were great. They made the trip so entertaining. They were vastly knowledgeable and funny as well. And one of the tour guides, the one that took us around the area with the most religious significance in Ireland, was quite an eccentric guy, but in a good way. If you come to Ireland, I highly suggest you do this tour. It’s done by Irish Day Tours, and the title is “A Tour of Celtic Ireland through the Boyne Valley.”
Now after that exhilarating experience I felt like my day would probably be all downhill from there, because that tour was just such a highlight. Well how wrong was I?
The Ultimate Pub Experience
When we got back to Dublin I was rather thirsty because we did a lot of walking on the tour. So of course, I headed straight for the pub. I mean, “when in Rome”, right? So I was trying to find a good pub to go to and as I was searching I heard the faint sounds of Irish music coming from a pub I was walking by. So I opened the door, walked in, and saw two Irish musicians, one playing the tin whistle, and the other playing the guitar, playing a hearty jig. So I decided to stay.
When I went to sit down, there were two Irishmen at the bar next to me and it was clear they had been at the pub for quite a while, and had a wee too much to drink. (When I asked how many pints one of the guys had, he said 15 pints!!!! 15!!!!!). So of course these guys were a crack up. We chatted for a little, than I started chatting with two girls from Spain who were there learning English. They introduced me to their group of other Spanish friends and we hung out at the pub for a few hours. And that’s when things got real.
The musicians started playing some more jigs and reels. Now I love to dance, it’s in my blood as I said before. When I hear good music, I’ve got to move. And move I did. I went nuts. Being in Ireland, with pints of fine brew, and great music, it was just irresistible. I danced my butt off!! And I guess this got the musicians going because they started playing harder and harder, and the harder they played, the harder I danced. Then the group I was with jumped in, and then other random people jumped in, all while the two drunk Irish men were screaming “Go Vegas!!” (Which is where I’m from)
Oh it was awesome!! I don’t know how long I danced to that hearty jig for, but I know that I was sweating like a pig by the time I was done. It was so cool! A proper evening in Ireland. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Probably the coolest thing that I did while I was there, it was just so much stinkin’ fun!! And after that exhilarating and joyous occasion I went home and slept with a joyful heart, and a full belly. Good times!
The day of the Boyne tour, someone told me about a small fishing town called Howthe that’s about a thirty minute train ride from Dublin. Being that it was my last day, and I would leave that night, I decided to check it out, after all it was only 30 minutes away. Once again, another great decision.
When the couple initially told me about Howthe, they didn’t explain how insanely beautiful it is. It’s a picturesque town off the ocean, and the scenery is stunning. There’s houses hanging off of cliffs that fall so gently into the oceans below. Seagulls flying above scouting out their next meal. Beautiful restaurants along the pier. Just stunning. There was a moment that I was so overwhelmed by the beauty that I teared up, and I don’t think that has ever happened to me before. I actually was so moved, that I had to write a poem. It’s a terrible poem, but I had to do something to express how I felt about what I saw…
In awe I sit
In awe I kneel before the presence of a grandeur beyond words to express
Only through tears can my true feelings be shown
And so like the waters before me they flow
From eyes of appreciation
And a heart filled with joy
The grassy stones
And clear waters
The laughter of birds and the smiles of friends I’ve yet to meet
These all paint the perfect picture
One that can only be drawn by you
What is man?
Why balk over our achievements and our accomplishments when no man has even the power or ability to create a stone
Let alone man
An ode to my father I write
Upon the shores of Ireland
Not a very good one, but I had to write something to just express myself at that moment.
After the tears and the poetry, I went to a place to grab some fish and chips. It was at a place called Crabby Jo’s. And I have to say, it was probably the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. After the food, I went and got a pint of Guinness, naturally, and than back to Dublin.
The Ending of the Trip
Back at Dublin, I decided to go to the Medieval Museum, and that was really neat. It had a lot more history which was nice. The tour itself is pretty cool, it’s definitely geared towards a younger audience, but I think that older ones can appreciate it as well, so I would say it’s a good idea to check it out. It didn’t take long and the history is very interesting.
When I finished up with the tour, my fabulous trip to Ireland came to a close. But the trip itself will forever be open in my heart. It was a life changing, stupendous trip, one that I hope to make again.
I hope you guys enjoyed this. And I hope that you can go to Ireland yourself, you won’t regret it. Follow me to hear in the future about some more awesome places that I went to like Taiwan, Thailand, Colombia, Vietnam, and more!