When we first began planning for this trip, we didn’t initially set an objective to be in Dublin, Ireland, (pics) for St. Patrick’s Day. But when we laid out our timeline and found ourselves ending up in Ireland in early to mid-March we figured it made sense to time our arrival into Dublin to coincide with this event.
Dublin embodies the struggles of the Irish through their history. They were set upon by Celts, Vikings and Danes leading to the 18th century when Ireland enjoyed respected standing in the British Empire with Dublin being the second largest city in the Empire. But things changed and in 1801 the British shut down Ireland’s Parliament which led to an economic decline and social unrest. It took more than 100 years for the Irish to finally take back their independence and establish a free Irish Republic.
On the day prior to St. Patrick’s Day we were able to tour Dublin and visit many of the main sights: Trinity College (founded in 1592), St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle and Temple Bar. The latter isn’t A bar, it is an area of Dublin along the banks of the River Liffey that was initially formed as a sand bar. It became a rundown and dangerous part of the city until a period of urban renewal found artists and galleries moving in. Today it has become a magnet for visiting party goers with lots of actual bars.
We also made the pilgrimage to the Guinness Storehouse. This is home to the St. James Gate Brewery which has been brewing beer in Dublin since 1759. Today Guinness brews beer in 50 countries. The “tour” was a bit disappointing since they have constructed a multi-media entertainment presentation that tells the story of Guinness and how it is brewed. This doesn’t discourage the hundreds of people who come to visit each day. The tour leads you to the top of the building where you can have your pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of Dublin.
And then came St. Patrick’s Day. We were staying north of Dublin and joined with the crowds riding the bus into the center of the city in order to see the parade. We were able to get a fairly good spot near the beginning of the parade which was at a turn in the street so we could see the groups coming straight toward us before they turned to continue down the street. It was an entertaining parade with bands from around the world as well as groups with colorful and creative costumes.
Dublin was the end or our three months in Europe. We visited so many wonderful and historic places, enjoyed lots of different kinds of food and had some great experiences that we will never forget. I would say it was everything we had hoped for and more.