Reliving our Dublin holiday

Irish castle
We had a wonderful time exploring Ireland’s attractions.

St. Patrick’s Day always brings back memories to our trip to the Emerald Isle. It’s weird to think that it’s been almost 11 years since we spent two amazing weeks in Northern Ireland and Ireland with our daughter Mallory. Mal studied abroad for a semester at Ulster University in Coleraine.

We traveled to Dublin for a three-day day holiday during our visit. Mal, Lisa and I had a wonderful time in Dublin. Dublin is a beautiful city.

We took in the usual tourist attractions – Guinness Brewery, Temple Bar district and Trinity College. We also spent time checking out Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol (famous prison).

We enjoyed our time in Dublin. Our family is about half Irish, so it was interesting getting to visit one of my ancestral homelands.

Guinness brewery

The Guinness tour provided an interesting look into the brewery’s history. The Guinness name jumps out at you as you approach the brewery.

Mallory and me at the Guinness Brewery

A self-guided tour takes visitors from the first floor to the top floor. The tour offers a different approach than other brewery tours we’ve been on. You don’t see the beer being made. Instead, you see artifacts and information spots about Guinness.

“THE” Guinness harp

The token each person receives at the start of the tour is good for a beverage at the bar on the top floor. The bar is also an observation deck that allows a beautiful 360-degree view of the Dublin area.

Speaking of Guinness, the Temple Bar District is an entertainment and cultural district. Several pubs call the area home. We signed up for a pub crawl. Two gentlemen led our group of about a dozen people through some of the historical pubs, including Temple Bar and Ha’Penny Pub.

Temple Bar District

The guides allowed everyone time to have a pint or whatever they wanted to drink, while they entertained us with songs. It was a fun way to spend a few hours.

Our guides leading everyone with some Irish ditties

While in the Temple bar District, we crossed the Ha’Penny Bridge. When it was built, a toll was charged to cross the cast iron bridge (a penny-ha’penny – similar to a 1.5 cents for Americans). Thus, the name stuck.

Ha’Penny Bridge

Irish prison

Trinity College is home to the Book of Kells. It’s a book of gospels in Latin. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the actual Kells. The college itself was beautiful. Very European.

I think my favorite spot to visit was the Kilmainham Gaol (prison). The reason it may be my favorite spot is because of the historical significance of it. Built in 1796, it housed men, women and children as inmates until the mid-1920s. It was decommissioned after Ireland became a free state.

Kilmainham Gaol courtyard

It was seen as a sign of oppression during its operation. Almost every Irish nationalist leader was jailed here. Children could be imprisoned for petty theft. Both sexes and all age groups were jailed together, sometime up to five people in a small cell.

Jail cells

Hangings took place outside the prison, but very few inside. We toured the cells. They seemed damp, dark and very claustrophobic.

Hallway to dingy, damp cells

Dublin Castle

Our visit to Dublin Castle provided a different view of Irish history. Built in 1206, it originally served as the center of the Irish government. Today, while it still serves as a government complex, state dinners and visits can be hosted here.

Dublin Castle

The rooms of the castle have specific meanings. For example, the Throne Room contains the actual throne created for the visit of King George IV to Ireland in 1821.

Throne Room

Saint Patrick’s Hall is used for presidential inaugurations. The room dates back to the 1740s.

Saint Patrick’s Hall

One of the fondest memories I still have of that trip is our dinner at the Dublin Hard Rock Café. The reason? We got free refills with our sodas and iced tea. Everywhere else, we had to pay for refills. So, that was refreshing.

Dublin Hard Rock Cafe

We had a great time visiting Dublin. We spent almost three full days there, and it was a wonderful experience. We keep dreaming of the day we return to Ireland for a longer visit.

Interested in planning your own vacation to the Emerald Isle? We recommend checking out our friend at Ireland Family Vacations

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!