I arrived into Dublin shortly after lunch and caught their bus into town. I love judging cities by their airports. Dublin had a really busy airport that was probably a little too small for the amount of work it needs to do. I got that opinion of quite a few things in Dublin and I suspect some of that has to do with the massive growth Ireland has seen with the Celtic Tiger.
By the way, if you wanted to see what it was like being part of a herd of cattle, fly with RyanAir out of Stansted.
Because of the relaxed controls when travelling inside the EU, most people just need to wave their passport at Customs and walk through. They had only one terminal for non-EU passport holders and of course they have to spend a lot more time on each of these people. The queue was quite long and very slow moving. The Kiwi girl in front of me in the queue had some problems with her work visa and that took even longer.
The motorway on the way in was busy and you could see the yet to open tunnel that they’ve spent a huge amount of money on. I caught up with Phil, who I worked with at Intergen before he got the call back to Ireland, in town. I was still feeling pretty crappy from the fever so we didn’t get up to much for the rest of the day.
Dublin is an insanely cool city. For a city only about 10-20% larger than Auckland it doesn’t feel physically larger but it does feel like it has twice the life.
Dublin city itself is pretty cool and almost all available on foot. Guidebooks suggest to not even bother trying to drive and that was backed up by the locals. I love cities that you can walk around, only the footpaths in Dublin aren’t really suited to the masses of people that are trying to transport themselves along Dublin’s streets and alleyways.
We walked down O’Connell St which is Dublin’s main drag. Past the GPO (General Post Office) where the one of the events of the rising was held in 1916. Looking at the columns closely, you can still see the odd bullet hole (see photos below). That is what I love about Europe on this trip you can literally see these little connections to history that we can only read about back home in NZ.
We went to the National Art Gallery and mainly focused on the Jack B Yates collection which was outstanding. Big thanks to Phil for introducing me to him. The gallery has been recently renovated and had quite a cool combination between the old and the new.
Nearby was the national assembly as well as the Natural History Museum which was absolutely surreal. It felt like a vestige of a colonial period whereby every natural history museum needed to kill and stuff one of everything. There was even a Tasmaanian Tiger on display.
Very close was the street (that I’ve already forgotten the name of) that U2′s Sweetest Thing video was shot. I can imagine me asking Phil for these sorts of landmarks would be similar to someone coming to NZ and asking me where they could see sheep. The street however was still pretty cool.
We also made our way to the world famous Guinness St James Gate Brewery. You could still occasionally smell hops around the place and almost all of this suburb was part of Guiness or was once owned by Guiness.
The tour was pretty cool and well laid out. There was this odd video part with three random people talking about alcohol related stories. It didn’t really make a whole lot of sense and didn’t really enforce the Guinness brand. Odd. They did have a section with all the old Guiness advertising and marketing material and TV ads. Including a section focused on the old “Guinness is good for you” or “My goodness, my Guinness” art.
At the top of the complex you could get your complementary pint of Guinness and also look out over an overcast Dublin city in this stunning rooftop bar enclosed in glass.
One of the things you’ll notice in Dublin is the throngs of young Spanish kids who come over to go on English language courses. The funny thing is that they stay in these large groups and move around the city that way. And the Spanish also can’t talk to each other what we would call ‘normally’. They have to yell and put passion into their voice. So you’ll come across 30 kids yelling at each other walking towards you on a narrow footpath. I could see how this could be rather off-putting or intimidating to the locals.
We also took off one day down the coast a little bit on the DART to Killiney (the way they pronounce it, it sounds like Kilarney). The reason for the trip? To see Bono’s house… I couldn’t resist. Obviously there isn’t a set of signs to his house which is why you need your trusty Dublin guide, in my case Philip.
We walked up a road and opposite the Canadian Embassy residence is the gate to Bono’s house. There is an alley next to the house that is covered in graffiti and messages from adoring U2 fans. Just as we were about to leave, another troupe of screaming Spanish kids turned up so we made a hasty retreat.
Some of Dublin’s most expensive property is on this stretch of coast line. There is also the little village/suburb of (phonetically sounding) “Dunlearey” which is also quite nice. We wandered along the coast some more and after a pint with one of Philip’s mates we headed back in Dublin.
Temple Bar in Dublin is a part of the city that still has some of the old city lanes and some of the best bars – it is generally filled with tourists. We had a few pints and went to some of the pubs, one of which had a mad but energetic solo singer belting out songs with just his guitar.
Later in the night outside Burger King we watched some punter get chucked out before he got a chance to order his food. Something he wasn’t all to happy about. He endlessly repeated the phrase “I want my f…’n burger and my f…’n chips” to the less than amused security guard. This happened until some other and older random punter who was walking by decided to take issue. To cut the story short, the older guy decided to clock the younger one who promptly forgot about his f…’n burger and f…’n chips and disappeared. And yet another random punter who was just passing by decided to take issue with the older one for smacking him. All and all it was a rather sad but hilarious display of humanity.
Dublin was a cool city and it was great catching up with Phil again. If you get close to Ireland I would thoroughly recommend that you pop across and check it out. The next time I’m back I’d like to get around and see more of the country and spend more time than I did this trip. One thing though, Dublin is a very expensive city – probably on par with London.
One last note, the day before I arrived in Dublin, there was a bomb scare at the airport. I didn’t hear about this until I had arrived but it caused general pandemonium and havoc at the airport.
The day before I left, there was another bomb scare at the airport and this caused more pandemonium and havoc. Apparently there were some bags left alone that had a Quran on top of it… What was funny was watching the TV news interviewing people. Basically, all Irish people interviewed were saying how useless the airport is and how crap the whole thing was. Then all the English people interviewed said how good it was, everyone was doing the best they could and the extra security was needed these days.
The spire in O’Connell St in Dublin. Apparently they wanted a public monument that was neither political or religious. This is what they got.
The GPO where one of the events of the rising took place…
…complete with bullet holes.
Oscar Wilde tribute
Cool door in the national gallery. The larger narrow door on the left side is to move large artworks through the building to different exhibitions.
The street where U2 shot ‘The Sweetest Thing’ music video.
Grafton St, main pedestrianised shopping street.
Dublin Castle or what is left of it. I believe this was where the English ruled Ireland from pre-republic days.
I thought this was a good symbol of Dublin, old and new. The new influenced by the old while sitting next to each other.
The view from the top of Guinness.
Phil and I.
Outside Bono’s house.
Alleyway next to Bono’s house. Click on the larger image to read some of the graffiti.
And I couldn’t forget to include a shot of the River Liffey.