After catching to red-eye from Chicago to Dublin I found myself with nearly a ten-hour layover in Ireland. Sidebar: fly Aer Lingus… one of the best flights I’ve ever been on. Blows our airlines stateside out of the water… not that it’s difficult. No point in spending it at the airport, even though it is an extremely good airport… time to wander!
I grabbed a bus out of the airport and made my way over to Trinity College, where they house The Book of Kells. This fantastically old manuscript, dated from around the beginning of the ninth century, has ornate illustration and Latin text and has to be seen. It is truly a work of art you can’t afford to miss. Christ Church Cathedral is also a good find. This nearly one thousand year old church was the first cathedral in Dublin and even features a stone bridge skyway of sorts.
Dublin truly is quite lovely. Even though it’s the middle of February and not exceptionally warm, everything is very green. Yes I know it’s Ireland and that’s kind of like saying Hawaii has really amazing rainbows, but until you see it for yourself, words don’t do it justice. For being their largest city, it’s still very quaint. I can only imagine what any other area would be like since I’m in one of the busiest spots in the country and it still feels intimate in a way.
As far as the downtown area, it feels like a cross between Main Street in small town Iowa and the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago. If you know me at all, you’ll know I was instantly in love. I have only experienced the city for a few hours, but already I can get a sense of its soul. The population is very helpful and friendly. Everyone gathered in pairs at the small breakfast place I stopped at and they were all thoroughly enjoying the coffee, tea, and conversation.
I had been told that Anthony Bourdain did one of his Layover shows in Dublin, and I should watch it in preparation for my own. Unfortunately I only caught about half of the episode, but I did see a bar called Mulligan’s featured in the program. The bar was opened in 1782 and is supposed to be one of the most authentic pubs in Dublin. While wandering around downtown Dublin I happened upon it, right next door to where I ate breakfast. A gorgeous throwback, it was a favorite writing spot for James Joyce, where it’s rumored he wrote chunks of his classic, Ulysses.
From there I wandered towards O’Connell Street where numerous monuments and the Spire of Dublin form a median with shops and bars lining both sides of the street. While looking down I side street, I saw a pub named Brannigan’s. Anyone that knows me, or Futurama knows there was no chance I was going to pass up a pint there. After a pint and a friendly chat with the bartender of this rugby pub, I decided to have some lunch.
I decided on a British dish in Ireland, probably not the best move, but I was assured I wouldn’t be run out of the bar for doing so. Either way, it was fantastic pub grub that sparked up a conversation with an older couple seated next to me. We chatted about everything from the weather to reasons why people from the states don’t come over and visit various places in Europe. They were lovely people who wished me luck even though they had no idea what my name was.
Many people won’t be surprised to learn of how kind the Irish people can be, after all, it is quite well known. I found it to be true, and then some. Even their speech, while faster than ours, is filled with the same politeness you’d find from a Midwesterner or Southerner in the states. Ireland is quite similar to the Midwest, so if some of my Midwestern friends or family members have reservations about traveling to another country, I’d highly recommend giving Ireland a chance. The culture is different, but also somehow familiar. I’m quite confident you’ll feel at home.