The weekend before last I got to spend two days in Dublin with my sister, Meghan, and my cousin, Cynthia. While we had planned on having two full days to see the city, complications with our hotel led to us really only having the second day. Even still, we had a really great time and managed to fit everything we had wanted to do into our day. So, here are two things you NEED to do, and one you can skip!
For the first of our must-sees in Dublin, we have Kilmainham Gaol– pronounced kill-main-um jail- located just a short cab ride from the city center, in Dublin 8. It sits just across the street from the Irish Museum for Modern Art, which holds a beautiful lawn that we explored while we waited for our tour time. The Kilmainham Gaol was built in 1796 on what was called “Gallows Hill,” and is well known for holding a variety of political prisoners as well as your average criminals.
It’s perhaps best known for being the place of imprisonment and execution of the prisoners from the 1916 Easter Rising. One of those prisoners that I was interested in learning about was Countess Constance Markievicz, who was one of the military leaders of the rebellion, even as a woman in 1916. She, however, was not executed, and went on to live a fulfilling life and had a very successful political career. Another of those prisoners was Joseph Plunkett, who was allowed to marry his wife, Grace Plunkett (nee Gifford) just seven hours before his execution. She would later become a prisoner in 1923 when the government rounded up known rebel sympathizers, such as Grace and other 1916 Rising wives and widows, and put them in Kilmainham Gaol for three months during the Civil War.
Kilmainham Gaol’s history goes far beyond what I was able to tell here, and I HIGHLY suggest visiting for yourself! It’s only €4 for students to take the tour, and you really do learn so much!
Our second stop on that day was the Guinness Storehouse. I originally didn’t want to go, as I don’t really like beer and it seemed like a tourist trap, but my sister and cousin convinced me. I am certainly glad they did, because it was really fun! Think of it as a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory-esque tour, but it’s beer instead of candy. It had some really cool features, like a waterfall and a mirrored wall of lights that acted as the bubbles in a pint. (By the way, there are apparently 30,000 bubbles in every pint of Guinness.) While not nearly as educational an experience as the Gaol, the Guinness Storehouse was definitely fun. I learned how to taste Guinness correctly and I got to buy a shirt that I can wear for St. Patrick’s Day for the rest of my life! While it wasn’t my favorite part of the day, it was a close second.
Lastly we stop at our third attraction of the day: St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Personally, I say skip it. Actually, I did. I had gone in last month with friends and they charge you €6 to go in and walk around this church with a gift shop literally in the same space as the altar and everything. It felt very capitalist and cheap, and not in a remotely good way. They are literally selling scarves and whiskey chocolate and Ireland-themed cheeseboards in a famous historical church and I felt VERY weirded out by the whole thing, so when Meg and Cynthia wanted to go in, I decided to sit it out. I had a very enjoyable time on one of the benches in the beautiful park next to it, actually, and I remain comfortable with my decision not to waste €6.
While I didn’t love everything we did, I really had a great time in Dublin. I got to spend the day with two of my favorite people, and I got to go to a history museum so that was really all I needed from my trip. I ended that weekend very satisfied and looking forward to the next one… St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in Galway: coming soon to your internet!
Until next time