So I admit I was super excited about Western Ireland but didn’t have quite as much enthusiasm for Dublin, just because I prefer to travel outside of cities when I go abroad, but flying from the US, I had to go through Dublin, and in hindsight, I’m really glad that I did. (Although my pics aren’t great because it was really overcast. Oh well!)
Trinity College of Dublin is one of the most prestigious universities in Europe and the most elite university in Ireland. Attending Trinity is akin to attending Cambridge or Oxford in the UK. Trinity College was originally established as a protestant university, and as such, for a century, the Catholic Church in Ireland, forbade Catholic students from attending. It has secularized greatly in the last 150 years though and is now open to Catholics, women, and a huge international student population!
In addition to hosting international students, it also hosts tons of tourist looking to explore the campus of this historical university, and in particular, the library! The Trinity College Library is a legal deposit library for the UK, containing over 6.2 million printed volumes and many significant manuscripts, including the Book of Kells, which is a 9th century illuminated Latin manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament. It is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s premier treasures. The Long Room of the library is also notable as the inspiration for the library of Hogwarts as it appears in the Harry Potter films.
Dublin Castle, originally constructed around 1200 but nearly destroyed and then rebuilt around 1700, is a centrally located conference and ceremonial government building located off Dame Street. Until 1922 it was the Irish seat of the British government’s administration. It features 1.5 original towers, including the Record Tower and the Bermingham Tower respectively, and the main courtyard with the State Apartments including the throne room and St. Patricks Hall (the home of the Order of St. Patrick after they moved from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, also the site of present-day presidential inaugurations). This castle was built on the “dark pool” or “Dubh Linn” of the Poddle River, for which the city was named. This area has since been converted into part of the gardens which are free to the public.
Speaking of St Patrick, let’s talk about St. Patricks Cathedral vs Christ Church Cathedral. So I am a Catholic and from New York, home to another great “St. Pat’s” Cathedral. Although I’m fairly certain that St. Patrick’s in Ireland was originally a Catholic church, it is no longer. It is actually the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland which was established as part of the Anglican movement. It doesn’t exclude Catholicism and actually shared duties with Christ Church Cathedral, which is technically the seat of the Archbishop. As such, there are technically two Cathedrals in Dublin, which is incredibly rare.
Aside from the political and religious history of the church, trading hands back and forth throughout the Reformation, St. Patrick’s Steeple housed the first public clock in Dublin.
St Stephen’s Green is a prominent public garden in the center of downtown Ireland, walking distance from Trinity College and just across from Grafton Street (a magnificent shopping district, and the perfect place to pick up your Aran Islands wool sweater!) Once it was formalized as a park it was originally fenced off and access was limited to the wealthy people who owned property directly across the street. It was opened to the public in 1877 and later became a battle site during the Easter rebellion, when rebels took up arms in the park, hiding in the bushes, trying to shoot at the opposition in the neighboring Shelbourne Hotel, however, being in the elevated hotel gave the opposition a distinct advantage over the insurgents in the park.
One of the most unique parts of the garden is a specific Garden for the Blind, composed of especially fragrant plants as opposed to plants with aesthetic appeal, all of which are labeled in Braille.
One of my favorite photos from my time in Dublin is on the Ha’Penny Bridge. The bridge was originally constructed to replace some of the seven ferries which were currently operating to transport people across the river. The ferries were in poor condition, yet people were resistant to change, so when the bridge was approved with a ha’penny toll, it was with the stipulation that if the people of Dublin objected to the bridge after 1 year, it would be removed and replaced once again with the ferries. Thankfully, the people of Dublin didn’t object too much, as the bridge still exists and is such a beautiful bridge.
For nights in Dublin, the most popular bars are in a region called “Temple Bar,” known for live music and late night dancing and drinking. The bars here can be quite expensive, but the live music is so much fun!
When considering where to stay in Dublin, I cannot recommend Jacob’s Inn enough. Seriously, this is probably the nicest hostel I’ve stayed in. Each bed has a private curtain, private light, and plenty of plugs! It’s nice and quiet but easy to access downtown!