We started our day with a cross-country drive from Galway to our last city of the trip, Dublin. Before we actually went into the city, we decided to check in to our B&B, Cornerville B&B in Howth. Howth is a beautiful peninsula northeast of Dublin that offers magnificent views of Dublin bay. Cornerville certainly lived up to its 4-star status in beauty and service. In fact, I would probably say that it was my favorite of the three B&Bs we stayed at – although I admit I was a bit biased, given our new canine companions (and the fact that by this point in the trip I was missing mine).
Our hosts were nice enough to offer us tea and biscuits, along with some advice on what to do, before we headed into the city for the day. As you can see from the pictures, our new friends were also happy to welcome us (and were maybe hoping for a dropped biscuit or two).
The house was very charming and inviting, and our hosts took everything into account – we had heated blankets, the use of a computer and printer, and maps and guides for Dublin City.
With directions from our hosts, we found the train station on Howth’s main street and parked in the market. The area was exactly what you think of when you picture a seaside town: the smell of salt water in the air, lots of gulls flying overhead, and fresh fish for sale. From there we caught the DART, Dublin’s rail system, and headed into the big city!
Stepping off the train, we immediately noticed rainbow flags and a festive atmosphere. We then saw flyers indicating that this was the weekend of Dublin Pride. Along with the flags, the city was full of people in costumes, shops offering discounts for the festival, and crowds around some of the pubs that were so thick you could barely push your way through.
We were particularly touched to see graffiti messages about the recent attacks in Orlando and showings of support for the victims.
We decided to just start by walking around with only a basic idea of what we wanted to see, and right away we happened upon an amazing site we didn’t even really know about, an ENORMOUS cathedral that captured our interest and drew us in: Christ Church Cathedral.
Located in the former heart of medieval Dublin, Christ Church was founded sometime in the 11th century. Much of the cathedral we saw was built after that time, but we did get a look at a bit of the original foundation on display (shown below in the bottom-left corner). The cathedral is massive, spanning about two city blocks with a stone skywalk in between. Tours of the cathedral and dungeons are offered, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to take one on this visit.
We continued our walk around the city and encountered some pretty incredible sites including Dublin Castle, medieval walls, Dublin’s oldest pub (The Brazen Head, established in 1198), The Ha’penny Bridge, and many colorful buildings along the River Liffey.
We even found an area I thought would be perfect for our first picture in our new city.
For dinner, we went to The Porterhouse, famous for winning “World’s Best Stout” twice. We sat on the third floor, and we were completely surrounded by bottles on all the walls of various beers from all over the world. I was happy to see my new favorite lambic beer, which I promptly ordered (some of the guys of course got the world-famous porter), and even though I was tempted to get fish and chips (again) I decided to try the veggie burger this time – and I wasn’t disappointed! The guys in the group informed me that the porter did, in fact, live up to the hype, and everybody enjoyed their food.
One of the few world-famous things we knew about Dublin was that it had some kind of spire, which we decided we would try to see before heading back to the B&B. As you can imagine with something that tall, it wasn’t very hard to find. The Spire, built in 2003, is 121 metres tall (that’s about 398 feet for those of us that don’t think in metric) and was commissioned in 1999 when the city wanted a redesign of O’Connell Street to reinvent the area and improve its overall aesthetic.
After the Spire we caught the DART back to Howth and rested up for our last full day in Ireland.
The next morning I had a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, which I had not yet had on the trip – and Howth was the perfect place to have it. The china looked very familiar, and I noticed that it was the exact same china my grandmother had used for most of my life! It was a neat coincidence.
Our plan for our last day in Dublin started with finding the tattoo parlor that two of our traveling companions had booked appointments with to get their permanent souvenirs. It turned out to be more difficult than we had anticipated – it was nestled in a tiny medieval street that you could pass by without even noticing (and we did just that!) We did eventually find Merchant’s Arch, though, and it turned out to be a colorful and vibrant little alley with lots of interesting storefronts.
While our friends got their tattoos, we enjoyed some tasty meat pies from The Pieman Cafe, which was just next door. We were served by The Pieman himself, and enjoyed talking with him about his business.
After lunch, we decided to do a little sightseeing while our friends were still occupied at the tattoo parlor. Trinity College was only a few minutes’ walk away and we were able to catch a tour of the campus led by a current student. He is pictured below showing us his academic robe.
At the end of our tour we had the opportunity to see the world-famous Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells. The library “long room” was even more captivating than it looks in pictures, and there was a lot more to see in it than just the architecture. The last picture on the bottom right shows the harp that gives Ireland its national symbol. I would have included pictures of the Book of Kells, which was incredible, but photography was not allowed in the exhibit – which seems fair, since the book is from 800 AD and has probably been through enough!
After Trinity College we met up with our friends, grabbed some pasties (mine was cheese, broccoli and leek filled – yum!) and got on a sightseeing bus tour to see more of the city.
At the end of our tour we hopped off at the Guinness Storehouse, long-awaited by some of the guys in our group and seen as a top attraction. The tour cost nineteen Euro a person, which included a beer at the end. It was mostly self-guided, and unfortunately – in my opinion – a little underwhelming. Unlike the Bushmills tour we had taken earlier in the trip, this one wasn’t of the actual brewery. Instead, we walked through what was essentially a Guinness museum. Many parts of the tour were just audio or prerecorded video, and it was so crowded and loud that you couldn’t really hear any of it. We did enjoy the top floor, which was a circular room surrounded in glass so that you could look out over the city while enjoying a pint. This area was also VERY crowded, so unfortunately you had to drink your pint fairly quickly and make room for the next group.
That was our last stop in Dublin, so we got on the DART and headed back to Howth for dinner. We ate right by the DART station and Howth Market at a restaurant called The Bloody Stream. It had a cozy atmosphere with a fireplace and dim lighting, and the seafood was as phenomenal as we had hoped.
After dinner we made our way back to the B&B for our last night in Ireland.
As if leaving wasn’t hard enough, I had some visitors while I was getting ready to go the next morning. The two Yorkies we had initially met on our arrival to Cornerville had become four (our hosts were dog-sitting two other pups). I enjoyed another breakfast of smoked salmon and our hosts talked to us a little about the area and gave advice for places to live when we came back in the Fall. We thanked them for a lovely stay and decided to see just a little bit more of Howth before we left for the airport.
We walked along a pier on Howth harbor and said our final goodbyes to Ireland… for now.