I love Dublin. I love Ireland. My Dads side of the family is Irish, so I guess it’s only right that I do. As a last minute trip, I decided I wanted to go to Dublin for a couple of days for my birthday. It may not be on my list of places I want to travel to, but I love it anyway so why not!?
Dublin. In January… yeah, it was cold. It snowed.
I asked my boyfriend, and decided to ask my parents if they’d like to come too. My Dad has been asking me when we’d go back to Ireland together ever since I drove myself to Ireland for a week. So what better time to go?
With the flights and the Maldron hotel booked, it was time to start making plans of things we could do whilst we were there.
For anyone thinking about visiting Dublin I thought I’d put together some of the best attractions we visited whilst we were there.
Located in the heart of Dublin, the home of the ‘Black Stuff’ is a must see attraction for anyone visiting the city. My oh my what a big portion of the capital is does cover. You’ll see the infamous signs on the wooden gates as you drive through the city.
The Guinness Storehouse is located in the heart of the St. James’s Gate Brewery, the home to the Guinness Brewery since 1759, when Arthur Guinness signed a lease for 9,000 years. It’s an incredible experience as you make take a journey up the seven floors filled with interactive experiences; from learning the art of the perfect Guinness pour, to stringing the famous harp and even getting an insight in to all of their advertising campaigns over the years. They have covered everything.
So we walked through the floors, learning about the ingredients, taking some snaps in the photo booth, learnt how to pour te perfect pint of Guinness and then made our way to the top. The end of the tour.
The Gravity Bar.
The bustling bar gives you a 360-degree view of Dublin. (if you can go on a day with decent weather, obviously!) Rewarded with a pint of the Black Stuff, it’s hard not to want to walk around the bar and take in the breath taking views. The views of the bustling city and even Wicklow Mountains. (again, weather dependant.)
I will be honest; every time I’ve been, it’s always pretty busy at the top, so don’t get your hopes up of getting a perfect seat by the window.
After all is said and done, take it from someone who has been a few times (four I think now…) and I don’t even like Guinness – It’s no wonder that it was crowned Europe’s Top Tourist Attraction back in 2015 and if you’re heading to Ireland, I would recommend going for the experience. The ticket price isn’t horrific, starting at €17.50 per adult. However, the price does increase at popular time and day slots so be sure to book yours before going!
Whiskey. Now we’re talking…
Of all the times I’ve visited Dublin, I’d never visited the Jameson Distillery. No idea why, just hadn’t. But this trip would be different. I booked the £20 each tickets for the four of us on my birthday. You have to select a time slot, as with most tours nowadays, so I opted for something around lunch time. Purely so I didn’t feel like an alcoholic drinking in the morning. (I don’t know what I was thinking, I was in Ireland – They drink all day – AND it was my birthday!)
Anyway… Firstly, there is very limited parking in the area. We were due to be 10 minutes early, however because of parking problems ended up being 10 minutes late.
The tour itself was okay. Honestly, it wasn’t that I was disappointed, but it’s very hard not to compare with something like the Guinness Storehouse.
So you begin your tour by walking the long timeline of the story wall. All very interesting and I definitely learnt some things.
Did you know, James Jameson, who the company is essentially named after was Scottish?
You then proceed to take a seat in a round theatre room, whereby your tour guide will cover the story behind the brand and the distillery on a pretty impressive interactive table. It was here that I learnt that Jameson Whiskey isn’t distilled at Bow Street. In fact, it is distilled in Cork and has been since 1970. (ergh.)
Once the story has been told, you head along the corridor to learn all about the process of making Jameson. It’s very hands on, you get to use your senses with the ingredients provided at your stations. I was pretty impressed by this room!
Next up, the Jameson Tasting Room
You take a seat around the round table with everyone else on your tour and placed before you are four glasses. A glass of Jameson, a double distilled whiskey, a single distilled whiskey, and a glass of water to cleanse your palette. One by one the Jameson expert talks you through the differences and gets you to use your senses to get the full experience as to why Jameson is far superior compared to the others. (obviously!)
Unfortunately for her, I could not be convinced… the single distilled turned out to be Jack Daniels, and we all know how much I love JD!
Once the tasting is complete you’re welcomed to walk through their gift shop on your way out where you can pick up beautiful, yet pretty pricey (eek – sorry!) gifts, including but not limited to a personalised labelled bottle of Jameson! I would have liked to, but it was just too steep for me personally.
You’ve reached the end of the tour and left standing at the bar waiting for your complimentary drink in the JJ bar. I personally went for Jameson and ginger ale, which I didn’t think I’d like but I was pleasantly surprised. And I just LOVE the décor in the bar. Just LOOK at those chandeliers!
All in all, I would say it was a good tour. The most expensive for entry compared to the other attractions we visited. But, if it’s something you’re interested in, then I definitely learnt a lot about the company. However, I would say that I was slightly disappointed that you didn’t get to see the product being made or anything of that kind. And if you’re driving in Dublin, make sure you get there early because of parking!
Temple Bar, Dublin
So I’ll keep the section about Temple Bar short and sweet. I think most tourists go to The Temple Bar Pub, assuming that’s what people mean by Temple Bar. Temple Bar is in fact the area on the south bank of the River Liffey. That particular pub just must make a mint off of the people that visit there.
The famous Temple Bar pub… It’s not my favourite pub in Ireland. You will find it’s quite crowded with tourists. However, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good drink, great music and a fabulous craic!
Temple Bar, the area… Just go and walk around it. It’s beautiful in it’s own right. I would however, recommend if you want the real Irish pubs to venture a little further afield and maybe walk down some of the small roads rather than sticking to the tourist spots.
But I do think everyone should at least go and enjoy one drink in The Temple Bar Pub.
On our last day in Ireland, just before we had to head to the airport, one of the things I wanted to do was visit Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced jail).
Funny thing… when I visited Dublin with my then best friend, for St Patricks Day a couple of years ago we stayed in the Hilton which looks directly at Kilmainham Gaol, but I had no idea what it was at the time! Bonkers!
Anyway, I had booked us tickets for a tour of the Kilmainham Gaol. It was freezing cold, as as you can imagine for an old prison that is largest preserved Victorian jail in Europe, only used as a tourist attraction, it didn’t exactly have central heating. It was cold.
The tour guide on this particular day had a very strong Irish accent. I struggled to understand everything he was saying. But once again, if you’re looking to learn, to be a tourist I would highly recommend doing it.
Steeped in Irish history, you learn about a lot of the gory occasions that happened in this jail. You stand in the exact place of execution of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. You stand underneath what would have been the place where public hangings took place. It’s pretty spectacular.
The tour begins with a short audio-visual show in the jail church where you sit in the same place the prisoners once sat.
This is the same place where Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, married Grace Gifford, just hours before Plunkett was shot by firing squad in the Stonebreakers yard.
Walking the corridors, you get a glimpse of the gloomy, harsh living conditions these people once lived in. As many as five prisoners were thrown in to one cell, built for one person. The gaol had a presence in many tragic times. The Great Famine from 1845-1852, a time where many women and children were thrown in these cells because of begging and stealing food. You would never see such living conditions in todays jails.
And, the main hall was something most of us on the tour felt familiar. Like we’d seen it.
Ever seen 1969s The Italian Job? Part of the movie was filmed right here. It was a spectacular room to stand in. Definitely an upgrade from the West Wing, however still cold and damp.
The end of the tour consists of standing in the sombre stone breaker’s yard. You’ll notice a black cross at each end or the gravelled yard to mark where the 14 men from the Easter Rising were executed by firing squad.
There was one particular story that got me.
One guy, James Connolly, was not actually held in Kilmainham Goal. However, he was Commandant of the Dublin Brigade, essentially commander-in-chief. Because of his involvement and certainly his position, he was sentenced to death by firing squad. However, He was so badly injured from fighting and even the doctor said he had one, maybe two days to live: the execution order was still given. He was driven to the gates of Kilmainham Gaol, carried on a stretcher and tied to a chair, because he was physically unable to stand before the firing squad. Rather than being marched to the far end of the yard, to the exact same spot where the others had been executed, he was tied to a chair, next to that gate and executed.
His, along with the bodies of the other leaders were put in to a mass grave with no coffin. And that outraged the majority of the Irish population.
The entire place is just full of stories like that and with ticket prices at just €6 for an adult, I’d recommend going. Just make sure you wrap up if it’s a cold day.
Have you visited Dublin? Been to any of the places I’ve recommended? I’d love to know what you thought about them!