Ireland Travel Diary

Well, it’s been over a year, but I finally found some time to travel. If you follow my Instagram or Facebook, you will have been getting some updates over the past year, but nothing that really warranted a full travel diary. If I had thought to bring my SD card reader, there probably would have been two of these posts.

Ok, so here we go, my week on the Emerald Isle…

Day 1
I took a bus from London the previous night, and caught the Holyhead-Dublin ferry, arriving in Dublin at around 6 am, which I don’t recommend, unless you really want to save some money like I did.
After dropping my bags off at the hotel, I decided to take a walk around town, because I honestly had no idea what I was going to do. Unlike last year’s trip, I didn’t really have any plan, beyond ‘three nights Dublin, two nights Killarney, three nights Cork’. I knew I’d go to Trinity College at some stage, because that library is on the old Bucket List, and a couple of pints in Temple Bar was a must-do, but beyond that… I had no plan.
Which is why I was happy to discover the National Leprechaun Museum. Outside of one room at the beginning, it’s not a museum in the traditional sense. It’s really a guided tour through a selection of Ireland’s folklore and mythology, not limited to leprechauns. They offer two tours a the moment, the day time, child-friendly tour, and the night time, adults only, slightly scarier tour, which has some quite bloody stories to go with it. I took both, naturally.
I also decided that today was the day to get all my alcohol-related tourism out of the way. After catching the smell of the Guinness Brewery near my hotel, I had absolutely no intention of doing anything Guinness related. To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on it anyway. Between trips to the Leprechaun Museum, I took in a tour at the Jameson Distillery, complete with tastings and a free drink after.
After my second run through the Leprechaun Museum, I decided to hit Temple Bar. On advice of my coworker, I went to The Auld Dubliner, and had a couple of pints (Irish Cider, Bulmers, rather than a beer), but to be honest, it was far too crowded, and full of tourists, so I decided to retire to my hotel for the night.

Day 2
Because I’m apparently a glutton for punishment, I dusted off my walking shoes and did the old ‘two walking tours in one day’ trick. The guys at Dublin Free Walking Tours were fantastic. They were knowledgeable and really knew how to keep your attention.
So first up was the South Side tour, which, as the name suggests, was on the south side of the River Liffey. This tour covered the more ancient history, Trinity College, both main cathedrals, Dublin ‘Castle’, as well as Temple Bar. It was really cool learning about what little remains of medieval Dublin, and the history of Temple Bar.

St Patrick's Cathedral (Probably)
St Patrick’s Cathedral. I think. It’s pretty close to Christchurch Cathedral. So it could be one or the other. I managed to spend a week in one of the most religious countries in Europe, and didn’t set foot in a church.

The North Side tour, shock horror, took place on the north side of the River Liffey. This tour focussed more on the 1916 Uprising, and everything leading up to the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922, as well as a general overview of the history of English/Irish/Northern Irish relations.

Day 3
Another day of a million sights. I probably could have done with one extra day in Dublin.
I started off at Killmainham Gaol, which has operated for centuries, but is most famous as the location the leaders of the 1916 Rebellion were imprisoned and executed. It is also home to that impressive cell block that I posted on Instagram, which our tour guide called the ‘Photogenic Wing’.

I then took a short walking tour of Trinity College, which led me to my favourite part of the trip, the Long Room.

Long Room, Trinity College Library
You know that scene in Beauty and the Beast, where Belle sees the library for the first time?… Yeah.

Often cited as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, it’s hard to argue the point.

I finished the day with a problem. I only had time for one more stop. So was it to be EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum, or Dublinia, the Viking history of Dublin. EPIC won out, since everyone knows Ireland’s main export is the Irish themselves.
It really was interesting to see all the places that people with Irish blood have left their mark, as well as an indepth look at the driving factors for their leaving in the first place.

Day 4
Travel Day. Train from Dublin to Killarney, with a change at Mallow. Nothing interesting to report at all really.

Day 5
I took a bus tour around the Ring of Kerry, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a ringroad that goes around County Kerry, beginning and ending in Killarney. It travels through Killarney National Park, through beautiful mountains, picturesque ocean views and a quintessential Irish landscape. All in all, not a bad way to spend a day.

Apparently the haze had only lifted half an hour before.

Day 7
Another travel day. This time a train from Killarney to Cork, again stopping in Mallow.

Day 8
Cork is, unfortunately, really only interesting for one reason, and that’s Blarney Castle. The Gardens are probably the highlight, at least for me. From the Poison Garden, which contains a number of poisonous plants, in order to educate people (although what the marijuana was doing there is anyone’s guess), to the Fairy Grove and Druid’s Cave.
I did climb up to the top of Blarney Castle, which is more waiting than climbing. I almost kissed the Blarney Stone, but my fear of heights got the better of me at the last moment. Not that I’m too worried, I’ve heard some horror stories about what happens to the stone when tourists aren’t around.

Blarney Castle
See that grating between the battlements in the middle? See the arms stretched out across it? That’s where you have to hang, upside down, to kiss the Blarney Stone. I think I’m eloquent enough, thank you very much.