Full disclosure: Ireland was never a place I traveled to in my preteen day-dreams. I instead had my heart set on one day making my way to other far-off places like Australia and Greece, or more tropical destinations like Fiji and the Caribbean. However, as my age crept up past twenty and my appreciation for gloomier days grew, the UK seemed like a worthy place to spend my time and money.
So, without further introduction, here’s some insight to Corinne and I spent three quick days in Ireland before heading down to the beaches of Portugal.
Day One: Our First Guinness and Getting the Lay of the Land
Our spirits were quite high when we landed in Ireland. Our last night in Iceland was a little rough, with our hostel suite mates having absolutely no respect for the few of us trying to get a good night’s sleep. Suffice to say, we were very ready to be in this new environment.
The three-day trip definitely started off on the right foot; right off the plane, people were so helpful and hospitable. We hopped on a bus at the airport and made our way deeper into Dublin where we were scheduled to meet with our Airbnb host. Our place was a charming one-bedroom apartment only a short fifteen minutes by foot from the hub of the city, which was a huge plus given the fact that we weren’t renting a car and didn’t want to depend heavily on public transportation.
Once we showered and settled in a bit, we headed out for our first night on the town. By this time, it was early evening and had been quite a while since we’d eaten, so we were on the hunt for a good, hearty Irish meal. And that’s exactly what we got. After walking down Gafton for a short distance, we decided on a restaurant called Bruxelles. Corinne had a shepherd’s pie while I opted for some fish and chips, and we both ordered a light beer — not yet brave enough to order a dark one.
After finishing up dinner, we took to the streets once more. We were only in town for a short few days, so we tried to get in as much site seeing as we could. We strolled past Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, walked around Trinity College’s campus, then stopped by the Dublin Castle before heading to Temple Bar.
The Temple Bar area was quintessential Ireland, or at least what I was expecting to be quintessential Ireland. Cobble stone streets, pubs one after the other, live music drumming from every door we passed — an area that was brimming with life.
We eagerly popped into a bar called Quays when we recognized a Mumford and Sons song the band was playing, finally feeling bold enough to ordere our first Guinness. We propped up at a standing table and watched the tipsy patrons sing and dance along. In that moment it was impossible not to feel immensely happy with this spirited city — it was easy to fall in love with it.
After hopping into another bar and throwing down one more Guinness, we decided it’d be best for us to get a good night’s rest. We were heading to the Cliffs of Moher the following day, and the trip there and back was supposed to be well over 12 hours. We headed to our Airbnb, watched some Netflix, and fell asleep with smiles on our faces.
Day Two: The Cliffs of Moher and Galway
We woke early on Friday, catching a quick coffee and breakfast at a convenience store on our walk into city center where we were scheduled to hop on a 7 o’clock bus to the Cliffs of Moher. The trip was supposed to be around three hours there and three hours back, with a handful of stops along the way (including one in Galway).
We were in and out of sleep on the first leg of the trip, cruising through rolling green pastures and narrow, winding roads. On the rare moments I was awake, I caught glimpses of charming, colorful towns, romantic castle ruins, and a ridiculous amount of pubs. Even in the towns that had four or maybe five buildings, you’d notice that at least one of them was a pub. Those Irish sure know what to prioritize!
When we at last pulled up to the entrance of the Cliffs, we were first greeted by a Lord-of-the-Rings-esque café carved into a grassy hill, beyond which was a paved pathway that lead to the goods — the goods being the Cliffs!
Corinne and I (though a little hungry and in dire need of coffee) skipped right past the café, eager to see this natural wonder. And I’ve got to say, pictures just don’t do it justice.
Soon enough it was time to get back onto the bus and continue on our merry way. We made a couple more stops on our drive to Galway, and I’m disappointed that I can’t quite remember what they were called or where exactly they were along the way. Regardless, they were some beautiful sights to see.
I’m also disappointed that I didn’t snap any pictures of Galway itself. It was so lively and colorful, similar to my first impression of the Temple Bar area in Dublin. We were told by many (locals and tourists) that Galway was a place we should definitely return to and stay in for a couple of nights. We only had time for a quick lunch, where both Corinne and I ordered a Guinness and some corned beef hash sandwiches (so good).
After lunch, we hopped back onto the bus for our final leg of the excursion back to Dublin. Once home, Corinne and I showered quickly, got ourselves all prettied up, and headed back to Temple Bar for a night on the town. It’s an area that’s somewhat notorious for being tourist-y, but it was also nice to run into and meet other Americans and English-speakers while we were out and about. I personally have nothing but great things to say about Temple Bar.
After some dancing and singing along to more live bands, we grabbed some late-night takeout and headed back to our Airbnb. We had a full day of drinking ahead at Jameson and Guinness.
Day Three: Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Storehouse
Waking up on our final full day in Ireland was definitely bittersweet — bitter, since it was our last day there; sweet, because we were spending the whole day drinking!
Our first tour of the day was at Jameson Distillery. It included a short history on John Jameson and the founding of his whiskey distillery, followed by a lesson on the distilling process which included a whiskey tasting comparison. The tour concluded with a complimentary whiskey drink of your choice (Corinne and I opted for a Whiskey Ginger).
After a quick lunch at Brazen Head, we headed over to the Guinness Storehouse. This place was huge! It was a more immersive experience than at Jameson, with seven floors dedicated to all things Guinness — from the origins of the wheat and the brewing process to their marketing techniques and commercial success.
Along with your ticket for admission you’re handed a drink ticket that you can redeem at any of the many bars scattered throughout the storehouse. Most visitors wait until they reach the seventh floor “Gravity Bar” to get their free Guinness and enjoy a stunning 360-degree view of Dublin. Corinne and I didn’t realize this, however, and stopped one floor short to enjoy a beer and some live music. After chatting with a rather rambunctious British bachelor party, we eventually made our way up to the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor. The bartenders were busy and likely assumed we had waited to use our drink ticket there, so the beers ended up being free for us. Score! We shuffled off to a bar-height table and took in the aerial view of Dublin.
I won’t lie when I say that after four dark beers, Corinne and I were a bit toasted. We were in high spirits when we left Guinness, with plans to meet up with that bachelor party I mentioned later that evening. We stopped at a pizza shop for dinner, made small talk with the owner, and ended up scoring some free drinks there as well.
After quickly eating and freshening up, we headed back to Temple Bar (yet again), where we met up with the Englishmen for our final evening in Ireland. To say that it was close to being something out of a movie wouldn’t be lying. Dancing to live music, throwing back Whiskey Gingers bought for us by handsome men from another country — it was pretty darn close to a perfect last night.
But as soon as it all started it sadly came to an end. Ireland is definitely a place I would love to venture back to! Luckily, we had six more days of adventure left, with grand palaces and sun-soaked beaches to explore.