Ireland is really something, it is. To start, the Irish are…overtly kind, cheery, full of genuine belly laughs and truly invested in the fact that you see the wonders of their country. Carrying with me a notebook to write down some locals recommendations for food, music and sights, it felt as if every local I engaged in conversation was fully vested in my satisfaction with Ireland. They wanted to make sure I saw every sight and tasted every variation of delicious pub fare. An afternoon in a dark pub full of a few regulars in the country town of Killarney gave me a glimpse into the true charm of Ireland. Loaded down with a backpack and looking for a cold drink, I found myself at a pub — the bartender a spry, bright eyed woman easily over the age of 70 with a tiny bar dog named Gin. I ordered a Smithwick’s and she gave me a sly smile and then erupted in a warm laugh. She was kind enough to correct my pronunciation of Smithwick’s beer from Smithwick’s to Smit-icks. Followed by, “darlin’ you’ve been here how long and not one of us has set ya straight dear?”
The melodic upbeat tones of flute, fiddle, pin whistle and accordion waft through the streets of Dublin, equally as delicious as the pub fare — one can’t help but be drawn into the live music, seemingly on every corner. Even the most sincere wall flower is coaxed into tapping their foot along and joining into the fun. The Temple Bar area is wall to wall live music, friendly locals and tourists alike. Spending two nights in a row at the same pub conversing with bartenders and patrons alike can only end well — in my case a Liam Neeson lookalike bartender will not only let you come behind the bar for a photo with him, but when an extra accidental hot toddy is made — it gets passed your way.
As 5am rolls around, I found myself among friends from around the world and went for a sunrise bike ride around Dublin. Am I an avid bike rider? No. But, when in Dublin and someone offers you a free tour around the city, it’s in your very best interest to take that chance. Not only did I get to experience the city traffic-free, I was able to see a Dublin that not many tourists get to. A stop off in the Docklands to see the Famine Memorial and learn about the Potato Famine, whipping rides across empty bridges over the River Liffey and learning about the Christ Church Cathedral while sitting on the stoop is not something that I will forget shortly.
One of the main sights to be seen in Dublin is the Guinness Factory. Even for those that are not fans of this darker beer, the factory will simply give an insight into the significance that Guinness has played throughout Irish history including old posters and advertisements as well as a really great gift store to pick up some memorabilia. Take a quick course to learn the proper pouring technique that should be used for every pint of Guinness and discover just how “The Black Stuff” is made.
There are few places that carry the energy and uniqueness of Dublin, I suggest you find out for yourself what this city holds for you!