It might have been cold and grey, but at least we managed to stay dry when Mark and I took the boys for a weekend in Dublin. We did a bit of shopping and a LOT of walking. And I managed to squeeze a little bit of history into the weekend as well.
We flew over with Ryanair, taking advantage of their Autumn sale and flying hand luggage only to keep costs down. The Clayton Ballsbridge hotel was our base for the weekend, chosen because the bus into the city centre stops literally right outside the hotel.
I’m from an Irish family, so taking the boys over to see Ireland was always something that I really wanted to do. This was their first trip over, and I was really keen to show them some of the important historical and cultural sights of the city. I knew that I couldn’t overwhelm them though – they are still not too keen on spending hours traipsing around a city looking at buildings!
We arrived at the hotel around 10.30pm on Friday night. After checking into our room we headed to the bar where Mark and I had our first pints of Guinness of the weekend. I don’t usually drink pints, but always make an exception for Guinness. And whatever anyone says, it definitely tastes better in Ireland!
Here are some of the highlights of our weekend in Dublin:
On Saturday morning we took the bus right to O’Connell Street in the heart of Dublin city centre. There I showed the boys the statue of Daniel O’Connell, the Post Office and the huge Spire. We also enjoyed a huge Irish breakfast at Eddie Rocket’s – the Clonakilty black pudding was definitely the best I’ve ever had. I’ve since found that you can buy it from Waitrose, but I wonder if this is something else that will taste better in Ireland?
Grafton Street Entertainers
After breakfast we started exploring the city, and headed over in the direction of Grafton Street. As well as being a great place to shop, you can also watch various street entertainers. We saw everything from fire jugglers, boy bands, dancers and of course the obligatory ‘statues’.
And talking of statues, of course we had to find Molly Malone. She’s still wheeling her wheelbarrow, I’m sure that she’s moved location since the first time I visited Dublin. She also has to contend with a lot of tourists trying to get a handful of her bosom – it took me quite a while to get a photo of her on her own!
St Stephen’s Green
We nipped into the shopping centre at St Stephen’s Green, and I was amazed by the gorgeous design inside.
In the afternoon we walked over to the Guinness Storehouse museum, which is a great way to pass a couple of hours. Spread over 7 floors, the museum tells the history of the brewing family, and shows how the black stuff is brewed.
My favourite floor was the one with all of the old Guiness adverts on. It featured everything from the Guinness toucan to the recent advert featuring the Sapeurs.
If you visit the museum, it’s definitely worth booking ahead online. Not only do you get to skip the queue and go straight inside, adults also get a free pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor. It has nearly 360 degree views over the city and out to the Wicklow Mountains.
After we’d bought some souvenirs in the Guinness museum store, we headed back down the road in search of somewhere to eat. We could have eaten at one of the restaurants at the museum, but instead we ended up at Arthur’s, a pub about 5 minutes walk from the museum. Mark, Ollie and I all had huge, steaming bowls of Irish stew, while Lyle had a Beef & Guinness casserole. Mark and I finished off our delicious meal with a glass of Yellow Spot whiskey. With live Irish music playing, and friendly bar staff, it was a great place to eat. I’d really recommend paying a visit to Arthur’s if you visit Dublin.
The next morning we had a relaxing morning in the hotel, followed by a quick lunch at Eddie Rocket’s. Then we did a bit of shopping, Lyle bought a bright green ‘Ireland’ hat to keep his head warm. Combined with his orange jacket, it wasn’t hard to pick him out in a crowd!
We all went for a walk down the Liffey next, calling at the Ha’penny Bridge which is one of my favourite spots in Dublin.
The final site that I wanted to visit was the Famine Memorial. It’s about 15 minutes walk from O’Connell Street, and the boys were soon complaining of sore feet again. But it’s well worth the walk.
The statue was given to the city in 2007. That was a year after my last visit to Dublin, so this was my first chance to see it. It commemorates the million people who died in the Great Famine of 1845-49, and the million or so who left the country in search of a new life.
As you approach the group, it takes a while to realise that you’re looking at the memorial. The statues blend into the surroundings so well.
The gaunt figures are quite haunting in appearance. I felt very emotional thinking about what people must have gone through at that time. To be honest, I’m not sure the boys got quite as much out of it as I did. But I felt it was important to go and see the memorial while we were there.
We all had a great weekend, although we were all pretty tired by the time we got back home. There’s still a lot to see in Dublin, but the boys are very keen to see more of Ireland. So I think we’ll head over to the West coast next time.
But I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be another 9 years until my next weekend in Dublin!