A Week in Ireland

By Megan Hulshizer

I arrived at my hostel at 7:30 pm in Dublin. Immediately I connected to the hostel wifi – my brother and sister-in-law were at the hospital having their new baby girl, Astoria Claire, that day and I needed all the updates! It was a stressful time as a new aunt. Baby pictures are of course the most important. Immediately I knew I would like the hostel – they were serving a free pasta dinner at 8 pm, and everyone loves free food. Especially someone on a Fulbright salary. I set down my things and joined the hostel crew in the kitchen and met some very nice girls from California, as well as a Turkish girl, a Spanish guy, and a Canadian guy. One of the people who had been in Dublin longer recommended we try Dicey’s Garden for a pint, because in Dublin they were usually over 5 euro, but Dicey’s often had student specials for 2.50 euro. Sold!

We walked fifteen minutes south to Dicey’s expecting a fairly chill pub but instead quickly realized why the recommendation came with the caveat “some people love it, and some people hate it.” There was a queue outside and some girls were wayyyy more dressed up than us backpackers. We got inside and paid the cover and found a strange atmosphere – one of those weird, half-empty clubs where some people are sort of dancing and then along the wall are booths and tables to sit at. We stood around for a little with our cheap beers before I suggested we explore the rest of the place – I was sure I had seen Google Images with a courtyard. Fortunately I was right! The rest of the party was happening outside in the actual garden area. Outside we met some crazy Irish men, one of whom decided that was the night he would personally remove some stitches from his arm that he no longer felt like having. It was a very strange evening all in all.

The next day I wandered through Dublin, took a nice tour of St. Patrick’s, then headed over to the Guinness Storehouse and took a self-guided tour, which while expensive, was fun and informative. And the best part is saving your drink ticket to the very end and use it at the Gravity Bar, where you can see all of Dublin below you.  Also they show you how to properly drink a Guinness, and the history of the brand. I’ve never had strong feelings either way about Guinness but I can agree with some of the people I met who claim that for some reason, it just tastes better in Dublin. I proceeded to continue to enjoy further pints of Guinness during my stay and they were all excellent. We will see when I get back to America how it holds up.

That evening I went with my hostel roommates and some of their friends to Oliver St John Gogarty’s. It’s a very big bar that you can’t miss in the Temple Bar area, but it’s definitely a tourist spot. There’s live Irish music every night, and the singer was amazing, but pints are 7 euros so it limits the amount you’re willing to enjoy.

Wednesday was a free city tour of Dublin guided by Alex, who was very funny. It was incredibly informative, lasted 3 hours, and had a break for a pint in the middle. I met one French girl, a German girl, a Brazilian girl, and two Finnish girls. We chatted the whole time and visited Trinity College and the Book of Kells together after. We inhaled huge burgers and agreed to meet up later for a pint. We drank at The Stag’s Head, where James Joyce used to have a drink. There we met a group of 5 Welsh men who were all part of a band together and they serenaded us and offered to sing at our future weddings. They were a lovely group and so silly. They’ll be the next S Club 7, I’m sure. 😉

The next morning I had a very early bus with Dublin Tour Company for my Cliffs of Moher tour. Although it was rainy weather all day, it ended up being amazing. The rain and clouds are part of the natural beauty of Ireland. We had stops along the way that were very lovely, but the highlight was the two hour stop at the cliffs. I could have stayed there forever. I almost did – it was rainy and wet and I totally tripped over my boots at some point way too close to the edge and I stayed back the rest of the time. The cliffs are absolutely massive and the waves crashing along them are stunning.

I spent the night in little rainy Galway and went out with a girl from Amsterdam and Belgium – we went to a strange bar together where an even stranger man kept trying to dance with us. Very strange.

The next day was back to Dublin! That evening I stayed in – I had another early morning bus the Saturday! I went with Paddywagon Tours to the Giant’s Causeway. I think I liked that tour even more! The bus driver was hilarious, and the stops were even more stunning. First we stopped at the Dark Hedges, which are fairly well known for showing up in various movies and TV shows like Game of Thrones. It was so beautiful, and so upsetting to hear the trees shouldn’t live so long and will probably be gone within the next 20 years. Go while you can!

Then we stopped at the Carrick-a-Rede, a rope bridge that salmon fishers used to take years ago. There too are cliffs and you can see Scotland in the distance! We got a bit of sun that day so the sun hitting the rocks and the water was amazing. Finally it was time for the Giant’s Causeway. The area it covers is even bigger in real life than what I imagined, so that was a great surprise! I climbed over the rocks and watched the ocean crash into the rocks and marveled at the weird shapes and pillars. Totally worth it, and totally beautiful. At the end of the day we spent one hour in Belfast before back to Dublin.

I slept on the bus back so I had plenty of energy to meet up with my Brazilian friend from the walking tour and hit up The Quays Bar – which was full of Halloween revelers and live music and silly dancing. It was a great party, and her friend was dressed as Harley Quinn and just as crazy.

Sunday was chill – I went to the famous Kilmainham jail and saw the Irish Museum of Modern Art, before having pizza with my five British roomies and partaking in a pub crawl. And, later I realized, the leader of the pub crawl was the same Alex who led our walking tour on Wednesday! Busy man! It was fun dancing and drinking with my Brits, who were all very sweet and gave me their sweaters when I was cold.

Monday was Halloween! Ireland claims that Halloween has a large basis from Irish folklore. There was a cool (but short) parade with incredible designs, and then I met my Galway girls (the girls from Amsterdam and Belgium) for some more pubs and dancing and silliness. I had my face painted at the hostel and wore a funny cat shirt Brian had sent to me a few weeks prior, so we could be matching for Halloween.

If this all sounds like a lot of drinking – well, Dublin and Ireland is known for it’s beer and pubs for a reason. The cost of beers though keep you from going too crazy, as well as early buses. But everyone I met at the hostels were so nice and I was always busy with new things to see and do!

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