Learned a lesson of Irish history
Fun fact: the Vikings first raided the British Isles in the late 8th century and ended up staying for over 200 years. They established a number of coastal towns in Ireland, including Cork and Dublin. Most of the inhabitants of the country today, however, seem to be indigenous Irish.
If you are short on time like I was, I recommend taking a free walking tour around town (check out links on the right). You get a good idea of what the city's historical background is like, become familiar with landmarks, and learn about your surroundings. If you would like to focus on Irish history while walking the streets of Dublin, check out this tour.
October - November 2014
7 THINGS I DID IN One craic weekend away
HALLOWEEN WEEKEND IN DUBLIN
Drank my way through the city
Many people associate Ireland with the taste of Guinness or Jameson - the drinks as symbolic of the country as the shamrock or the Irish harp. When visiting Dublin, thousands of tourists go straight to one or both of these storehouses to dive - almost literally - into the Irish culture as drinking these beverages (or drinking in general, for that matter) is strongly connected with Ireland’s traditional pub culture. Whereas I am sure these tourist attractions are worth a visit, when it came to thinking of an itinerary for my trip, another favourite came to mind - tea! I sure do love me some tea, and so do the Irish - they are the 3rd largest tea consumers in the world, even outdoing the Brits. Thanks to the Internet and my Irish friend (hi there Caroline!), pulling a list of go-to places for a cuppa was a pretty easy task, so I pinned those cafes on the map and slowly but surely completed my very exclusive, truly one-of-a-kind tea tour around Dublin. Here are some favourites of mine:
- Queen of Tarts. I believe the name speaks for itself, but the place does live up to it fully. Wonderful cakes, wonderful tea, does it much better than that?
Location: there are 2 cafés, both central and good for people-watching: one on Cork Hill and the other on Cows Lane
- The Cake Cafe. An off-the-beaten-path quirky cafe with a nice terrace/outside area that serves really good cakes. Great place to chill if the weather is nice.
Location: 8 Pleasants pl.
- Oolong Flower Power. Prepare yourself to be slightly overwhelmed with over 100 teas to choose from! Just being there is an experience in itself, and oh those leather couches.
Location: 4 Stephen's st. Lower
- Accents Tea & Coffee Lounge. An incredibly cozy place with a great variety of teas and pastry. They offer a lovely selection of teas (I recommend “Apple meets mint”), pastries as well as books, and their chairs are so comfy I could easily spend an entire day there.
Location: 23 Stephen st. Lower
- Wall & Keogh Tea. For those who take their cuppa seriously! The variety of teas they serve is impressive and top-notch, plus this café has this homey feel to it.
Location: 45 Richmond st. South
Dressed up as a puppet
To be absolutely honest, the primary (if not sole) reason behind this trip was Halloween, which also happens to be my birthday and which I take very seriously. So when I finally had an opportunity to celebrate it in the country of its origin, there was no other option but go! The Celts considered this time to mark the end of the harvest season and summer, where this transition into winter was a bridge to the world of the dead and spirits. To this day, Ireland gets very festive at the end of October - when I arrived, Dublin was decorated in all things Halloween, from traditional Jack-o’-lanterns to skulls, spiders, and other cute embellishments. Needless to say, dressing up is a must. Other the course of previous years and birthdays, I have been a dead flight attendant, a broken porcelain doll and a bunch of other fun characters, so this time around I wanted to take it to a new level. Even if you haven’t seen any movie of the Saw series, you probably know Jigsaw’s puppet named Billy, who is one hell of a creepy toy. I consider this outfit a success as I will probably never have these many strangers ask for a photo of me ever again. That black hair spray the next morning though…
Read the road signs
All traffic signs and street names in Ireland are bilingual, which made me, a linguist, super excited. Irish Gaelic is very different from modern English, so it is fun times trying to figure out what the Irish translations say. You can try your luck and ask a random passerby to do it, but mind you, not even half of the country can speak the language (see the 2011 Census) despite having to learn it at school. And while we are at it, Baile Átha Cliath is the Irish name for Dublin.
Went to a library (twice)
Trinity College is home to what must be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, which houses the famous Book of Kells. You might recognize The Long Room that hauntingly resembles the Jedi archives from Star Wars - even though George Lucas claims there is no connection between the two. This part of the library is open to general public, so you can go and see it for yourself, but either way, it is absolutely gorgeous and embodies every bibliophile’s paradise. Oh how I wish I was writing my thesis there!
Another library I paid a visit to was Chester Beatty that is located right next to Dublin castle. Not only can you actually work there (there’s no entrance fee!), they also host exhibitions and have a lovely rooftop garden.
Admired Irish stepdance
Modern step dance comprises many forms that vary with respect to style, but are uniform in rules about what one may and may not do and when. There are a couple of theories as for how it emerged especially in terms of why the upper body remains still the entire time. One is that the Catholic Church forbade any form of sensual expression and the other explaining it by the small stage size, be it tabletops or the top of a barrel. Step dance is now widely performed all around the world, but is still inseparable from the its Irish origin. Wirld Organization, which proudly claims to be "instilling Irishness abroad", is promoting their native island with 3 ambassadors dancing all around the world and just some craic* in 23 countries the way only Irishmen would. God bless ‘em.
*craic /kræk/ (also crack): n. Enjoyable social activity; a good time [Irish English]
Almost joined a protest
On November 1st, over 100,000 people across Ireland marched against the water tax that had been introduced earlier this fall. Many of these protests took place in Dublin, closing down some of the central part of the city.
FREE WALKING TOURS
TYPE OF TRIP
- City trip
- Weekend getaway
- Solo travel
- Local holidays