Ireland

  • Capital: Dublin

  • Population: 4.8 million

  • Language: English, Irish

  • Currency: Euro

  • Location: Off the Northwest coast of Europe

  • Interesting Fact: More people are buried in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery than are living in the city.

 

MY TRIPS

MY TRIPS

DUBLIN

DUBLIN

NEWGRANGE

NEWGRANGE

HOBO ADVICE

HOBO ADVICE

JW SWEETMAN'S

JW SWEETMAN'S

HOWTH

HOWTH

DOOLIN, CLARE COUNTY

DOOLIN, CLARE COUNTY

CLIFFS OF MOHER

CLIFFS OF MOHER

DINGLE PENINSULA PHOTOS

DINGLE PENINSULA PHOTOS

GRAPEVINE HOSTEL

GRAPEVINE HOSTEL

GLASNEVIN CEMETERY

GLASNEVIN CEMETERY

CORK PHOTOS

CORK PHOTOS

My Trips

July 2015, August 2016, Summer 2018

So far I have traveled to the Republic of Ireland twice. The first time being in Jusy of 2015 as part of the backpacking trip with my friend Blake, and the second being solo a year later, and both times I have found it incredibly hard to leave. And if you're wondering why it is so appealing, here is just a small story that demonstrates why.

The very first day Blake and I arrived, we decided to go on a run to explore the city. Having both run cross country in college, this was something we did in each location of the trip, but this one was different. Not yet ten minutes into the run, a car pulled alongside us and rolled down its window. A bearded middle-aged man with glasses leaned out and said, "You guys running? Great! Enjoy yourselves and have a beer." He then proceeded to hand Blake a tall clear plastic cub willed with a dark stout, which of course Blake drank immediately. Needless to say, our run didn't last much longer, but right away we felt at home.

Since then, I’ve been back to the country four more times, traveled along the western, southern, and eastern coasts, and seem more sheep and green fields than I can possibly count. Not to mention, during my visits here, I've probably formed the best and most lasting friendships of any place I've been to so far. That, in and of itself has made each trip absolutely worth it!

Hobo Advice

Hobo Advice

Start your trip in Dublin, but make sure you get out of the city at some point and see the rest of the country. Go to a local pub, away from the main tourist sites (believe me, it is infinitely better), but make sure the bartender doesn't try to rip you off, which unfortunately happens pretty frequently to visitors. 5 euro tops for a pint, and order a Kilkenny if you can. It's even better than Guinness in my opinion. Other than that, travel across the country, see cities like Cork and Galway, and if you have time, spend a night is a small town or village. Most of all though, talk to as many people as you can. In my short time there and despite my slightly awkward mannerisms, I had more conversations and meaningful interactions than I could count.

Overall Impression

  • Everything really is green here
  • Traditional Irish music is awesome
  • You can strike up a conversation with practically anyone at any time
  • It rains a lot
  • Kilkenny beer tastes better than Guinness
  • Choose a pub with locals instead of tourists (believe me, it is much better)
  • Temple Bar can be fun, but is really expensive
  • People are friendly everywhere but expecially in the country
  • The food is at least significantly better than English food
  • Soda bread is delicious
  • Glasnevin is the coolest cemetery in the world

Glasnevin: The Coolest Cemetery in the World

May 2018

Generally speaking, I don't usually leave a cemetery thinking, "Wow! That was awesome!" However, during a recent trip to Ireland, I experienced that exact feeling. It started out as as a suggestion from my friend Hannah on a Saturday afternoon. We were thinking of what to do and she said, "We could take a tour of Glasnevin Cemetery. It's been a few years since I went, but I remember having a great time there." A bit confused but very intrigued by what that meant, I readily agreed.

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Upon arrival, I was first surprised by the massive size of the place. Secondly was by the light-hearted and up beat attitude that everyone (especially the tour guide) seemed to have. "Fun fact," he said to start, "There's 1.6 million people buried here. That means there's more dead people in Glasnevin than living people in all of Dublin. I've even got a few relatives over there." He pointed and chuckled. I then looked over and noticed a sign advertising for the cemetery listing some of the names of those buried, such as 125 people named Barber and 11 people named Beard. (As seen above)

Pretty much how it started.

Pretty much how it started.

"In case you haven't noticed," Hannah said to me, "Ireland has a bit of a different attitude towards death than most places." I had noticed.

Then we began to make our way through, first with the guide pointing out some of the notable people from the Easter Uprising in 1916 and the War for Independence that followed. The guy explained the back story behind a few of the people, inserting humor here and there, and then pointed to a large tower which he said was placed above the family tomb of Daniel O'Connell (of whom O'Connell Street is named after). "Now," he continued, "This tower has been closed for over a year. Does anyone know why?"

In the back, someone grumbled an indecipherable answer.

"That's right!" the tour guide said somehow able to understand what was said. "Someone put a bomb in there and tried to blow it up. Fortunately though, they didn't know explosives very well and only managed to blow out the window. Now lets go inside and check out the dead O'Connells!" We then walked in. By this point, Hannah and I had already gotten into conversation about how we'd want our funerals to be.

"First of all, no one will be sober, said Hannah, "I want it to be a huge party where everyone in celebrating their time with me. I'd never want to make my family and friends sad."

"I'm thinking of going along the Viking route," I added, "Put me on a raft with fireworks, push it out into a pond (aka the poor man's ocean) and set it ablaze."

O'Connell family crypt

O'Connell family crypt

Tour guide smacking O'Connell's coffin.

Tour guide smacking O'Connell's coffin.

Once inside the O'Connell family crypt (which turned out to be rather bright and colorful), we saw a big coffin front and center in a heavy metal case. "This," the guide said as he smacked his hand down on it, "is the coffin of Daniel O'Connell. Feel free to touch it." Naturally, Hannah, myself, and about half of the other people followed suit. "You know, I've never had an Irish person on the tour who didn't touch the coffin, and I've never had a German who did." He then continued and said that there are only two spots left in the family crypt, and that one is promised to a nine-year-old boy who he personally got to give a tour too.

"I've never seen a kid so excited to see his own grave," the guy explained, "Even when he left, he happily said, 'Can't wait to see you again soon!' I had to add, 'Hopefully not too soon.'" Anyway, with that aside, we left, passing the graves of James Joyce's parents as well as Maud Gonne, the lady who was repeatedly stalked by the famous poet W.B. Yeats. Finally, we reached the most famous grave in the cite: independence leader Michael Collins. As we approached, I saw an interesting looking sign with an inscription in Irish Gaelic on it. "Woah, cool sign!" I exclaimed. "What does it mean?"

Both Hannah and the guide laughed. "It says 'STAY OFF THE GRASS."

Oh. Well that was a bit anti-climactic. Anyway, there were numerous flowers on the grave which the guide explained were sent by a French lady who became obsessed with Collins after watching a 'highly inaccurate film depiction starring Liam Neeson.' But he said that the cemetery was still grateful for her support. Hannah then leaned over to me, "I was about to show my support for this place by subscribing on their website, but I noticed it was currently at 666 subscribers. I felt that statistic needed to stay."

Michael Collins' grave

Michael Collins' grave

Shortly after that, the guy wrapped up the tour and Hannah and I decided to check out the cemetery museum (which even turned out to have an exhibition on grave robbing). I went into the whole experience not knowing what to expect, entirely relying on her judgment, and I left feeling like a kid that just visited his first amazing theme park. I never thought I'd describe a graveyard as awesome and a tour through it as hilarious, but now I'm doing just that. Therefore, I highly recommend anyone seeking adventure and looking to put a more lighthearted view on death to come here. It's absolutely worth it.

An accurate depiction of our feelings by then end of the tour.

An accurate depiction of our feelings by then end of the tour.

Dublin

July 2015 and August 2016

Dublin is a city alive and full of energy in the best way possible. Wherever you go at whatever time of day, there always seems to be something fun going on, whether it's an art exhibition, music at the pubs, or just people out and about enjoying themselves despite the weather. And I do not mean to give the impression that it is full of energy in the stressed out, money driven. type-A frenzy way like Manhattan. Dublin isn't in your face like that. It is much more of a laid back energy, if that makes sense. There is never a dull moment.

On top of that, its a beautiful city as well. There are no high rise sky scrapers bearing down upon you, and the views near the Liffey in the center are incredibly picturesque. It is definitely a happening capital city, but I never felt that big impersonal feel. The city is pretty easily walkable, as there are a lot of pedestrian only streets, and nothing seems too far. And, unlike most big cities, Dublin has a fair amount of greenspace, which it used quite often for film screenings, concerts, and a variety of other events.

Best of all though, Dublin has a certain welcoming feel to it. To this day, it is still the only major city I've ever been to where random strangers would walk up to me and start up a conversation as if I were a life long friend. And no, this was not just at the bars, occasions like this seemed to happen anywhere at anytime. 

Howth

August 2016

Lea at the harbor

Lea at the harbor

Just outside the city of Dublin lies a small seaside town called Howth. Initially, my plan was to travel to either the eastern or southern coast of the country with my friend Lea, but when that day came, we were both feeling a bit tired and the skies looked as if they were about to pour any second, so we agreed to go somewhere closer instead. Since Howth was only 30-40 minutes by train, our choice was fairly easy.

Once we got there, I looked around and got an unexpected familiar feeling. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it was. Maybe it was the mis of green, blue and gray in the sea and sky, maybe it was the reef and the lighthouse, or maybe it was the architecture of the seaside buildings, but for some reason, it reminded me of New England. For example, if I were to randomly wake up there one day and someone were to tell me it was Maine, Rhode Island, or Eastern Connecticut, I would believe them. I mentioned this to Lea, but apparently it didn't bring back memories of her home area in southern France (who knew, France and Ireland differ).

Anyway, we walked around for a bit, taking in the views and appreciating the fresh ocean air while carrying on a good conversation. It felt great to escape the confines of the city and enjoy the slower, more relaxing pace of everything, but since it was Ireland, the rains came. We headed into a small, cozy looking cafe on a hillside to wait it out until the sun came back (plus I was in a bit of a need for a caffeine fixing). We sat down, expecting to stay for maybe a half an hour or so.

The wait staff was incredibly warm and welcoming as I ordered my coffee and Lea, tea. I looked around, took in the warmly colored surroundings and the smells of freshly baked goods and ground coffee (two of life's greatest pleasures). That's When I happened to notice that all the other tables were empty. We were the only customers there, which actually felt really nice. No other voices or commotion. It was our chance to savor the silence, so we decided to make the best of it and play a pictionary type game where we had to guess film, book or movie titles. (As seen)

Yes, there is a Big Lebowski reference on here

Yes, there is a Big Lebowski reference on here

At first, I thought this was going to be easy for me. We were playing in my native language, drawing was one of my hobbies, and I spent many lonely early-teen years watching movie after movie. I've got this, I thought. Then Lea  handed me her paper with her drawings, and I realized I had just foolishly let my guard down as I strutted into a lion's den. Turns out she also had an extensive film knowledge and just so happened to be like the most creative person on planet earth. I was going to have quite a challenge on my hand.

Match after match went by, each of us trying to outsmart the other. And every time I thought I had an unbeatable creative idea, Lea countered with another just as strong, if not stronger. Game after game went by, until Lea asked, maybe just to break the intense focus, "Do you think it's still raining?" I checked outside, and to my surprise, the sun was actually setting. Already? How could this be? I checked my watch and was stunned. We had been there for not one, nor two, but four hours! Maybe the game of the cafe had some sort of magical charm on it. Either way, we had to call a temporary truce until next time on the game and hurry on out before the last train left.

As we headed back to Dublin, I realized that I had first come there for the sea and the nature. I thought I would spend most of the day walking around the town, taking in the feel of the place and taking as many pictures as I could, but I didn't. I spent most of the time sitting in a cafe drawing pictures. And I wouldn't have had it any other way! Round two would be a must.

Doolin, Clare County

July 2015

While Dublin is an amazing place, remember that it is just one part of Ireland, and to get the full experience, you need to venture out. While there, the first trip Blake and I took was eastward to a small town called Doolin in Clare County, about four hours from Dublin. Our ultimate reason was its proximity to the Cliffs of Moher, but since it was there, we decided we would spend some time in the town too.

When the bus ride started, I initially thought I would use it as an opportunity to catch up on the past few weeks of sleep deprivation, but the further we got out in the country, something caught my attention. Something ever present that yanked me out of the mid-day lulls. The color green. Everywhere I looked, the fields, hills, plants, trees rolled of, endlessly as it seemed, and were all more vibrantly green than anything I had ever seen before. I knew it was called the Emerald Isle, but this was far beyond all my expectation. Any inclination to sleep that I once had disappeared as I became transfixed like an art student admiring the works of Picasso for the very first time.

And this didn't end. One incredible landscape followed another again and again until we reached Doolin on the Atlantic Coast. As I stepped off the bus, I looked around and saw I was greeted by a small cultural town nestled among rolling hills overlooking the ocean. Every here and there lay small houses, local pubs, cafes and shops, all wooden, cozy and painted in colors that complimented the sea. This was a pleasant escape from the concrete, buildings, and cars of the city.

Yes, despite this initial quiet appearance, Doolin was by no means an escape from culture, as Blake and I were about to find out. As we checked into our hostel, a brown haired lady in a purple shirt at the front desk let us know that Doolin was known as the heart of traditional Irish music, and as it turned out, she wasn't lying. The second the sun went down, music rang out of every cafe, pub, and restaurant, and people from all over seemed to appear out of thin air to come and listen.

It may sound like I'm Exaggerating here, but I can assure you I am not. I experienced this personally that night as I decided to go and grab dinner at a local, seemingly quiet pub. At first, when I walked in around 7:30, the place was pretty deserted, but when 9:00 rolled around and a fiddle player entered, everything changed. Within minutes, the whole place was packed to the brim. The music was incredible, lively, and lasted long into the night, and in my opinion at least, gave a more authentic experience than was possible in Dublin. (Don't get me wrong, Dublin in awesome, it's just a little too marketed towards tourists).

The main point I am trying to make here is this. Most people who come to this area only do so in order to see the cliffs or the nearby Aran islands. Don't be that person. See the cliffs and the islands, as they are absolutely worth it, but make sure you see Doolin too. And don't just see the town. Go in and experience it!

Cliffs of Moher

July 2015

I am a person who likes nature. I enjoy escaping the confines of town and city whenever I get the chance and appreciate being around trees, grass, dirt, and all that good stuff without concrete, car horns, and strip malls. So whenever I go to a new place, I always make sure to get out of the cities and do something in the great rugged outdoors. This is what brought me to the Cliffs of Moher during my trip to Ireland.

For those of you unfamiliar, the cliffs stand around 300m (900ft) at their highest, and drop directly down at a 90 degree angle into the Atlantic Ocean below, all the while being surrounded by some of the greenest land on planet Earth. And if you decide you want to walk along the ridge all the way to the top, you won't find guard rails or fences, or anything of that sort for protection. Sounds dangerous? Well, at least they give you a fair warning...

Of course, Blake and I did the full walk, and as you can imagine, the weather decided I didn't want to be our friend. One minute it would be sunny, then it would rain, then it would be cold and cloudy. And then there was one element stood out most of all: the wind. But I wouldn't describe the conditions as windy. Oh no. Windy implies a steady breeze and occasional gusts. Windy is the weather in which you fly a kite. These were destructive, unrelenting, hurricane-force winds. I'm not kidding. It got so intense that we were still pelted from the ocean spray all 300m up, and when it got bad, the only thing we could do was dig our feet into the ground and hunch down in order to avoid falling over.

However, we did have some company on our journey. All along the way, groups of animals, such as cows, horses and donkey, lounged around just doing their thing despite the weather. In my head, I pictured them saying. 'Yeah, I see you wind and rain. Do what you want, but I'm a cow and I'm just gonna chew on this grass regardless. And I'm gonna like it." Naturally, Blake and I posed for photos with these stoic animals.

So, was the multiple hour trek that involved getting soaked and blown over by wind worth it? Of course! The cliffs themselves were unlike anything I had ever seen, and the rolling hills were like a dark green ocean. But the sea and the sky, those more than anything completely took my breath away. The sky, clouds, sun and rain all twisted and turned together, creating blues, purples, reds, grays, and whites so vivid and intertwined, it looked as if the landscape were a tie-dyed shirt designed by Jackson Pollock. And it was always changing, just like the wind and the weather, so with every glance, I was greeted to something new and incredible. I literally could have stared for days on end.

To this day, the Cliffs remain one of the most amazing geographical features I have ever seen, and despite whatever the surrounding weather conditions may be, it is completely worth going to. And come to think of it, the bad weather actually enhanced the whole experience, adding to the challenge and bringing out unbelievable colors in the sea and sky. One thing is for certain though, I will return.