Dublin mini break September 2018

Friday 28 September 2018

We spent a lazy last morning, breakfasting after 9a.m. To our surprise many others were also late so we had a fair bit of company. We had our last bowl of Delia’s delicious nutty muesli (she makes it herself we discovered) and talked a little to some very jet lagged Americans who had just arrived from South Dakota. They appeared not to have had much luck sleeping on the plane and one in particular looked very wretched.

We stayed at the B&B for the rest of the morning, packing and saying our farewells before catching the Air Coach back to the airport. Many Ryan Air flights have been cancelled today but luckily ours still went ahead and we arrived on time. We had a bit of a wait for our taxi – Bristol traffic delayed its arrival apparently – but got home by 5. We have enjoyed our time in Dublin very much, but it’s always nice to come home too!

Thursday 27 September 2018

We woke to cloud and a fairly strong breeze, but it was dry again and not cold. We had quite a big breakfast  – Delia’s breakfasts are really nice – and, once ready, made our way on foot to the city centre to pick up the Green hop on hop off bus. We stopped at Kilmainham Jail where we had an excellent guided tour and found out more of the terrible things that the Brits did to the Irish whilst they were in charge. There was a small group of young Irish men, one of whom asked a question about the famine, trying to make the point that the British made things even worse by increasing exports during the time that a million people died. There seemed to be some truth to that, but the guide did counter the argument a bit. The tour became more depressing as it went on and ended in the yard where theBritish executed the leaders of the 1916 uprising, turning a locally not well supported event into something major that some say was the impetus for an independent state. Very sobering stuff.

We attempted to recover by having soup in the cafe before getting back on the bus to go towards Guinness storehouse to have the tour we missed the other day when CJ was ill. We showed our booking and were whisked away to avoid the queue, given a leaflet to act as a guide and pointed in the start direction. We saw some people having a tour with a staff member and weren’t sure if that’s what we should have had but we carried on by ourselves. We learned some things about how it’s produced and saw a film of watching a cooper making casks. Overall though we were hugely disappointed as the experience was overwhelmingly commercial and anonymous, very unlike our other experiences here. We went to the Gravity Bar at the top of the building and looked at the views over Dublin but CJ didn’t even want to stay for his free Guinness so we left and walked back to pick up the hop on hop off bus and stayed on that to finish our tour of the city.

We alighted at St Stephen’s Green and went to find a pub that CJ has discovered that has live music. We are hoping to hear some real Irish music before we leave. We’ve booked in to a place called House not far from the B&B and the pub for dinner and will head from there to the pub. We are both tired so may not last long at the pub!

House was a big surprise. It’s a lovely red brick building with 2 elegant greyhound type statues outside and looks serene. Inside is a different story as it goes back a long way and has several bar areas, a nightclub and a very large seating area where what seemed like hundreds of Dubliners and tourists had gathered for the evening. CJ commented on how many women there were. It certainly seems a place for the young professionals to gather. We weren’t the oldest, but very nearly were. We had a very nice meal and an expensive cocktail and mocktail each. We’re worth it!

Our final stop for our day out was O’Donoghue’s pub. It was very busy but we managed to find a place to perch right next to where the musicians played. They drifted in at about 9 and Bev had a chat to an ancient banjo player about London, Cork and Dublin. We bought him a Guinness. The musicians played the tin whistle, flute, guitar, banjo and drums. One also sang. The music was good and authentic and we enjoyed hearing them play. The ancient banjo player had trouble keeping time but it was good to hear them playing together. We stayed for about an hour and then bade farewell as bed beckoned. A most enjoyable last evening in Dublin.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

We both slept well although we still felt very tired today. We set the alarm as we had things booked in so it was off to a very nice breakfast and then out. We saw Jenny the manager who wanted to know how CJ was and whether we’d slept which was nice.

We went by bus and tram to Jameson’s Distillery in Bow Street where we had a very good and interactive tour, involving a little bit of whiskey tasting to compare Jameson’s with Johnny Walker (Scottish) and Jack Daniels (American). CJ bought a bottle of Jameson’s and had a tot with ginger ale. We caught the tram back to the centre to be near our next visit to the Book of Kells and The Long Room at Trinity Uni. We had a very nice lunch of veggie galettes in a place called Lemon on Dawson St and then went on the tour.

The Book of Kells is a beautifully illustrated version of the gospels of the New Testament which also has and fabulous calligraphy. It’s believed to date back to the 9th century. The glass case it and a couple of other ancient texts are displayed in were surrounded by people trying to get a look so it was a case of being patient and stealing a glimpse when possible. The craftsmanship was amazing but we were both more impressed with The Long Room which is the old library at Trinity. It is a huge, wooden space containing 200,000 books and is absolutely beautiful as well as awe inspiring. A staff member explained how they locate each book as there is no Dewey system in use.

The woman who did the history tour yesterday mentioned a new museum that has just opened which tells the story of one house’s multiple uses over time. CJ found they had space on a couple of tours so we caught the bus to Parnell Square and walked to Henrietta St. The museum is called no 14 as that’s the house number. We had to wait for the 4p.m. tour so went for a drink and came back to go with 4 others around the house. The tour started in Georgian times when it was a spacious home to a wealthy couple, well connected in society ,and then moved to the time when it was converted into tenements. Over 100 people lived in the house during this time and the tenements were inhabited until 1979. The damp, ugly look of the tenements was on show and the contrast with the immaculate Georgian rooms was vast. A really interesting tour.

Back on the tram for a quick return to the hotel and then we walked to the Conrad hotel in the ext street to wait for our lift to the Merry Ploughboy’s pub. There were 2 Americans and us in the taxi. We’ve heard loads of US accents today and pretty much everyone at the B&B seems to be from the States or Canada.

The taxi driver was very friendly and an expert on whiskey (the Irish spell it with an e; the Scots don’t) so the journey passed quite quickly despite some busy traffic. The size of the crowd surprised us somewhat as there were about 200 of us! We were on the same table as the couple we’d travelled with. They didn’t have that much to say but they were nice enough.

The music was well played and well sung but it was a bit too commercial for our taste. There was very little proper Irish folk (we didn’t expect to hear Que Sera? for example) but it was an entertaining evening. We were also entertained by some proper Irish dancers who did very well in a small place. We both avoided being dragged up on the stage to dance. We had a meal which was not bad and some wine. Barry the taxi driver was on cue to pick us up and we got back together the hotel at about 10.20. An action packed day!

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Oh dear! We both had a terrible night, due to not being able to sleep because of the road noise… and then CJ fell ill. Even our earplugs couldn’t drown the traffic noise. We probably got a couple of hours all night. Bev went to breakfast just before it finished at 10 and brought back toast and peppermint tea which CJ managed to eat. Bev then went to talk to the staff about moving rooms and met the manager who has just started here and was very sympathetic and helpful. Bev was shown a couple of rooms and we are now in a larger room overlooking the garden (free upgrade – thanks to Jenny, the manager). It is quiet so we have high hopes for tonight.

We were due to go to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour but postponed it until Thursday and had a quiet morning at the hotel before braving a bus into the city. We found a place to have a bowl of soup and bread for lunch and then made our way to Trinity College where we were booked on to a historical walking tour. The woman leading the tour was a History graduate, and has a Masters and a PhD, all from Trinity. She was very informative and took us to various places to tell us about Georgian and Viking Dublin and some of the story of the British colonising the country. She ended with Brexit and the problem of the border. It was a really interesting couple of hours but the level of detail was such that we will probably remember one millionth of what she told us. We went to the former Parliament building, now the Bank of Ireland, to Temple Bar, Wood Quay, home to Dublin City Council offices which were built over the Viking town despite the archaeological dig having found tons of evidence of a settlement, Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle, where the Brits administered the country from.

We returned to the hotel for a rest. CJ fancied noodles for supper so we wen to The Ramen Bar on South William St as it had good reviews online. We were the oldest people by some margin but that didn’t stop us having a very nice  meal.

We didn’t have a late night as we were both done in.  Fingers crossed for sleep.

Monday 24 September 2018

We had our first experience of an Aer Lingus flight to travel to Dublin.  It was a propellor powered smallish plane but was absolutely fine for our short flight. The plane was a bit late taking off but we only landed 5 minutes late and we arrived in Eire’s capital city in the mid afternoon. We collected our bags quickly, found the Air Coach stop and travelled to our B&B. We are staying at Number 31. Our room is number 32 which is quite high up in the Georgian part of the building. The room is on the small side and painted in dark colours with minimal lighting. We look out on to a noisy road which we hope will quieten down at night.

Once we had unpacked we set off on foot to the city centre. The B&B is about 15 mins on foot from the centre. It was a sunny and partly cloudy day with an autumnal feel. Dublin has some very attractive buildings and the centre is a nice place to walk around. We saw the statue of Mollie Malone and sang the song in her honour.

Having done an initial wander we had a drink in The Old Storehouse – CJ had his 1st Guinness of the holiday – and listened to live music, other people’s songs sung by a man with a nice voice. We went to see the River Liffey and crossed via the Ha’penny bridge and then had a wander round Temple Bar. There we found an Italian restaurant called La Gondola and both had a tasty fettuccini al salmone with a mixed salad. CJ also had a glass of Montepulciano.

We’ve heard lots of different accents as you’d expect from a capital city. If we can sleep we hope to have a nice few days here.