Dublin is a lovely town full of history, pubs, and plenty of liquid refreshments. We stayed at The Morrison which is quite convenient on the River Liffey (River of Life). However, most may not know that it is not the only river in Dublin. The River Poodle runs beneath many of the streets in Dublin including Trinity College. To quote Wiki: “A large, dark pool once existed at the confluence of the Rivers Poddle and Liffey; this pool was described in Irish as dubh linn, which means dark pool or black pool. The city name, Dublin, is an anglicisation of this Irish phrase. This historic pool existed under the present site of the Coach House and Castle Gardens of Dublin Castle.”
Dublin is truly a walking city, with a proper map! However, do not be dismayed if you get lost. We found the people of Dublin to be extremely helpful giving directions. One lady even stopped what she was doing to walk us to the Teeling Distillery. Very friendly people. Of course, if you don’t want to walk, there is plenty of public transportation including hop on/hop off buses everywhere.
Our three days in Dublin were spent walking, visiting public parks, and the typical tourist sites including Trinity College and the Book of Kells (housed in the Library),
Guinness Storehouse, Teeling Distillery, Temple Bar (pub scene hangout), Marsh’s Library (where Bram Stoker researched for Dracula, and James Joyce studied!
But, those are the things that you can read about in any Travel Guide. The interesting thing about Temple Bar, besides all the folks hanging around drinking in the streets, was the street musicians. We especially like one group called Mutefish. They are an Irish rock/folk group from Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, and Ukraine. Here they are playing in Dublin. Want to hear some, go to http://www.mutefish.ie.
Now, of course a visit to Dublin would not be complete without some liquid refreshments, so we obligingly made our way to The Guinness Storehouse. So, is all Guinness brewed in Dublin? They short answer is no. Does it taste better in Ireland at its source? The short answer is an unqualified yes – unfiltered, right at the brewery on St. James. Here are some pics from the brewery. By, the way, Guinness Storehouse is the most visited place in Dublin, go figure.
But, Dublin in not only Guinness, they also now have a Distillery. Teeling Distillery is the first distillery opened in Dublin in 125 years. Teeling, however, has been making Irish Whiskey since 1782. It is now the Spirit of Dublin, to which I can attest. They make an exceptional whiskey. The tour is great and not far from Guinness. One story we learned during the tour was about the great Dublin fire of 1875. No one died from the fire, but 12 people died from drinking the whiskey running through the streets that had to be stopped by horse dung – quite a poisonous mixture to be sure. Since that fire, no whiskey distillery can store their wares for aging in Dublin.
While in Dublin, we did find one outstanding restaurants that I must mention, The Winding Stair (http://winding-stair.com/). It is part bookstore and part restaurant. The food is definitely Irish but fresh and modern focusing on local purveyors. Naturally, Brenda had Salmon and little did we know, but it was Burren Smokehouse salmon. More on that later. And, in case you are wondering, Ireland is not just Guinness and whiskey. There are plenty of places serving excellent wines from around the world.
Doolin and Cliffs of Moher
Alas, our time in Dublin had to come to an end. Time to drive to the Wild West (of Ireland). So we gathered our car and drove toward our next destination, Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher. But, on the way we decided a short hike in The Burren would be good.
The Burren hosts 75% of all of Ireland’s wildflowers. When you see it, you would wonder how in the world that is possible, given the fact that the limestone is all you see when you come upon the Burren. But, look more closely and you see the cracks holding water for the vegetation. An amazing geologic formation. And, since the wildflowers are so prevalent, some industrious person decided a Perfumery would be a good idea. However, getting there is challenging, but fun, as you are driving a good bit of the time on winding, sometimes one lane roads with rock walls on either side. The products are all organic, inspired by the landscape of the Burren.
And now on to Doolin where we stayed at Daly’s House. Very lovely home within walking distance of the best pub, Gus O’Connor’s, and convenient to starting our hike up the Cliffs of Moher.
Upon arrival at Daly’s House, our host, Charles, graciously asked what we would like to do for the evening, of course after offering us refreshments. He told us about the Doolin Music House (doolinmusichouse.com) where you learn about the history of Doolin music, hear music in Christy Barry’s home, and are served smoked salmon and local cheeses by his partner in life, Sheila. What a great experience!
The next day we joined Pat Sweeney’s guide Tony for our guided hike from Doolin up to the Cliffs of Moher. This was one of the greatest hikes of our life. You hike literally right along the cliff face. You get to see waterfalls, puffins and kittiwakes nesting on the cliff wall, and gorgeous views. My words cannot adequately convey the beauty and grandeur. So, I will humbly try to let the pictures speak for me.
So, what do you do after such a gorgeous hike? Cool our heels at the Sea Salt Cafe with some homemade brown bread and seafood stew. Rest a bit and then get ready to head to Gus O’Connor’s pub for the evening entertainment. What a wonderful evening! Christy Barry again joined by no less than 3 or 4 fiddles, a whistle player, our Daly’s house host Charles on the concertina, two accordion players. And to top it off, a grandmother of Irish decent from Chicago played the spoons with her whole family watching on. What a grand evening.
Dingle and Ballyferriter
Our two days in Doolin ended way too soon. We could have hiked a good bit more but we headed south to the beautiful Dingle Peninsula to visit with our friends Tom and Betty Mar Little.
But, before we left, we decided to visit the Burren Smokehouse.
Are we so glad we did. Some of the best smoke salmon we have ever had.
Before we settled in with Tom and Betty Mar, Brenda and I took a tour of the Ring of Kerry accompanied by our intrepid guide Diermud of Dingle Shuttle Bus (dingleshuttlebus.com). He was a wonderful guide and we learned so much about the Ring of Kerry from him. It is beautiful! Here are some pics we took along the way.
Following the tour, we arrived back at Eagle’s Nest with Tom and Betty Mar, retired to a local pub where I enjoyed some Red Brest Whiskey whilst listening to a small French group play Irish music. Lovely evening.
The next morning, Tom and I attacked the Links of Ceann Sibeal Golf Links. The course won, naturally. But what an experience. Lots of wind, no trees, fast greens (putting from off the green), deep bunkers.
Then Tom and Betty Mar gave us a tour of the Slea Head drive with all the history of beehive huts, oratory, and ring forts. The huts and oratory’s were built most likely around 1000 AD but a precise dating has not been possible. We toured Gallarus Oratory, Reask Monastic Site, and a small compound of beehive huts. It was very interesting despite my bump on the head from not ducking.
That evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Ashe’s Restaurant (www.ashesbar.ie) where Tom and I had local lamb shank – delicious! Tom and Betty Mar treated us to a wonderful concert of Irish music in Dingle. No pub, just music and Irish coffee. It was at the Dingle Music Shop (http://www.siopaceoil.ie/). Great time listening to the three musicians, and on one tune seeing a young lass doing an Irish dance.
Alas, the next morning we had to return to Dublin before our flight the following day. On the way we discovered a lovely town called Dungarven which has a beautifully restored fort and waterfront restaurants.
This was a wonderful trip! Great hikes, friendly people, good friends, really good food, and beautiful scenery. What more can you ask for. Until next time.