With Brexit due to take place at the end of October, we decided to give London a pass and fly to Europe via Dublin and return from Paris. Westjet has a limited number of flights from Calgary to both locations. We were able to arrange our trip to meet their flight schedule.


Getting There

West Jet - Calgary Airport
West Jet - Calgary Airport

The trip to Dublin was a long one. Leaving home at around 9:30am for a flight to Calgary: a five hour layover in Calgary then an eight and a half hour flight to Dublin. The trip was made even longer by a two hour delay in Calgary for de-icing.

Going through customs at Dublin airport was reasonably fast. As with other EU countries, there are two lines, one for those with EU passports and one for everyone else. The line for ‘everyone else’ was quite long, but moved forward quite quickly. After the few usual questions - “How long are you staying in Ireland?” and “Where are you staying?” we were on our way to collect our bags.

Since we had checked in early at the Calgary airport, our bags were among the first to be unloaded. We were soon on our way out of Arrivals and looking for the shuttle bus to take us to our hotel.Tickets for the shuttle bus are available at an information both to the right as you leave the baggage claims area. Two one way tickets for the 747 shuttle and we were running through the rain to catch the waiting bus.

Roads & Streets Were Flooded. 

The Outer Bands of Hurricane Lorenzo
The Outer Bands of Hurricane Lorenzo

We were the last to get on the bus. After loading our luggage onto the racks we headed to the upper deck to find a seat and were soon on our way.

But, that didn’t last!

The Dublin Port Tunnel was closed due to flooding forcing. The shuttle bus to make a long detour into the downtown area. The windows quickly fogged up, leaving us to guess at where we were. 

The “Talbot Street Bus Station and Connolly Rail Station” is the main transfer point on the bus route. Most of the other rides on the shuttle got off there. Our hotel was two stops passed that at Cathal Brugha. 

Our hotel, the Academy Plaza, is across the street from the Cathal Brugha bus stop.

Getting from the bus stop to the hotel more difficult than I expected. The street and the driveway in front of the hotel looked more like wading pools than normal streets and the rain was pounding down. By the time we got to the hotel we were soaked to the bone.

After checking into the hotel, a change into dry clothing and a ‘cuppa tea’ - a short ‘walk about’ seemed in order. A short walk to Upper O’Connell Street to the pedestrian mall on Henry Street convinced us that the best place to be was back in the hotel.

Still Raining

It Rained Each Day We Were There
It Rained Each Day We Were There

By the next morning the rain had subsided a little. 

I needed to do two things - pick up two ‘Leap Visitor Cards’ and get a SIM card and data plan. A three day Leap Visitor Card costs 19.50€ can be bought at the Tourist Centre 59 O’Connell Street about two blocks from our hotel. The Leap Visitor Card is good for 72 hours after it is first used. Our plan was to wait until after lunch before using the card. In that way, we could use it on the shuttle bus back to the airport. 

I decided to get the Tesco basic ‘pay as you go’ plan, 15.00€ for 15G of data. The plan was supposed to work in Europe. However, it failed to connect to the Internet in Spain - big problem. 

It was only a short walk from the Tourist Centre to the Tesco on Henry street. Just time enough for our umbrella to join the ranks of the umbrellas that clogged the litter bins.

My wife wanted to take a picture of the Molly Malone statue on Suffolk Street. Dublin is a very compact city - the Molly Malone statue less than a kilo meter from where we were on Henry Street. We decided ‘give it a go’. 

By the time we reached the foot of O’Connell Street we were ready for a coffee. For once I was glad to see a Starbucks. It was very small, but it was dry and there were two stools.

Two Tall coffees later we were ready for the next leg of our walk.

Molly Malone

Molly Malone Statue - Suffolk Street, Dublin
Molly Malone Statue - Suffolk Street, Dublin

After waiting for a group of tourists finish a rendition of “Molly Malone”, we took a few pictures of the statue. Originally erected on Grafton Street in 1988 it was moved to its present location on Suffolk Street in 2014. Legend says Molly was a 17th century fishmonger — but there is no historical evidence to that effect. “She is typically represented as a hawker by day and part-time prostitute by night.[1] In contrast she has also been portrayed as one of the few chaste female street-hawkers of her day.” (Wikipedia)


O’Donoghues Pub - Dublin
O’Donoghues Pub - Dublin

Leaving ‘poor Molly Malone’, we wandered up Grafton Street. Turing down Merrion Row and passing St. Stephen’s Green finally stopping for lunch at O’Donoghues.

When my plan go awry, which is most of the time, I rely on ‘serendipity’ to come to the rescue — and, once again, luck was on my side. 

We stopped at O’Donoghues for no particular reason other than the rain was starting to get quite heavy. The building dates to 1784 when it was a grocery store. In 1934 it was bought by Paddy and Maureen O’Donoghue who changed it to a pub. “This pub is closely associated with Irish traditional music and was where the popular Irish folk group, The Dubliners, began performing in the early 1960s. ” (Wikipedia)

When a tourist visits an Irish pub they are required, I think it is a law, to order a Guinness. I have had a Guinness from a can, and was thoroughly discussed with the taste. But, I ordered one just the same.

There is no comparison between what you get from a can over here and what you get on tap in Ireland.

Book of Kells & the Long Room 

I had two things on my ‘Must See’ list — the ‘Book of Kells’ and the ‘The Long Room Of The Old Library At Trinity College’. Both exhibits are in the Trinity College Old Library.

Illustration from The Book of Kells
Illustration from The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells

The ‘Book of Kells’ is an illuminated manuscript dating from the early 9th century. The book was known to be in Kells by 1007CE but its origin is not known. After arriving at the monastery at Kells, the book survived the monastery being plundered by the Vikings and stolen and recovered ‘after two months and twenty nights with its gold taken off it and covered with a sod’.(attributed to Irish Annals) In 1653, during the rule of Oliver Cromwell, the book was sent to Dublin for safe keeping . It, along with the ‘Book of Durrow’, was presented to Trinity College in 1661.

[The village of Kells is located in County Meath in Irish province of Leinster. Origianally, “a royal site inhabited by the High King Cormac mac Airt . . . The present monastery at Kells is thought to have been founded around 804 AD by monks from St Colmcille's monastery in Iona who were fleeing Viking invasions.”(Wikipedia) As well as being the home to the ‘Book of Kells’ the monastery produced the ‘Book of Armagh’, also housed at Trinity College.]

The Long Room

Long Room at Trinity College
Long Room at Trinity College

A flight of stairs lead from the ‘Book of Kells’ to the Trinity College’s ‘Old Library’. The library was place on the second floor due to flooding of the River Liffey. The building, which dates from 1792, is just part of Trinity College’s library complex and is the only section open to the public.

The ‘Long Room’ smells of dusty old book. The smell even has a name “Biblichor” — to me it is better than the finest perfume.

In addition to hundreds of old books and manuscripts, the ‘Long Room’ is home to two of Ireland’s most precious objects, the Brian Boru harp and  the last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

[The Brian Boru harp appears on both the Irish Coat of Arms, where it faces left, and the Guinness trademark, where it faces right.] 

1916 Proclamation
1916 Proclamation

Trinity Science Gallery & Temple Bar

The Trinity Science Gallery was another bit of serendipity. 

We were wandering down Pearse Street towards Temple Bar when the skies opened up again. We were by a passage way into Trinity College so we ducked in there to find ourselves by the entrance to the Trinity Science Gallery. There were  exhibits on genetics and on AI. We spent over an hour looking at the exhibits and talking to some of the staff. By the time it we had finished, it had stopped raining.

Although there is a café in the gallery, we decided to continue on to Temple Bar for lunch.

“Temple Bar (Irish: Barra an Teampaill) is an area on the south bank of the River Liffey in central Dublin, Ireland. The area is bounded by the Liffey to the north, Dame Street to the south, Westmoreland Street to the east and Fishamble Street to the west. It is promoted as Dublin's 'cultural quarter' and, as a centre of Dublin's city centre's nightlife, is a tourist destination.” (Wikipedia)

As you might expect, the street and bars were full of tourists. On the plus side, the bars had entertainment. We stopped at Gogarty’s for a Guinness and a lunch. We didn’t know it at the time, but Gogarty’s has a reputation as having the highest prices for Guinness on Temple Bar. After paying 3.90€ a glass of Guinness  and 9.95€ each for chowder — I can well believe it.

Gogarty's Pub
The Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub

Dublin Castle & Queen of Tarts

Dublin Castle has guided, hour long tours every day starting on the half hour. The tour go to parts of the castle that are off limits to self guided and free tours.

“Dublin Castle was first founded as a major defensive work by Meiler Fitzhenry on the orders of King John of England in 1204,” (Wikipedia) Built at the confluence of the Poodle and Liffey Rivers it is protected on two of the three sides. (This type of location was also favoured by the Vikings.) The work to re-enforce the castle was undertaken in the 18th century. Since that time until 1922, it was the site of British power over Ireland.

Evidence of a Viking presence was found during the renovation of the north-east corner under the Powder Tower.

Looking Down into the Viking Settlement
Looking Down into the Viking Settlement

Queen of Tarts has two locations. The larger location is on Cow’s Lane and a smaller on Dame Street — just a two minute walk from Dublin Castle.

I heard about ‘Queen of Tarts’ in a blog and it had good reviews on TripAdvisor. We settled for the ‘Queen's Delight’ — a scone, raspberry jam, orange juice and tea. It was delicious!

Queen's Delight
The Queen's Delight

Christ Church Cathedral & St. Audoen’s Church

There is no shortage of churches in Dublin — some famous, some not so much.

Christ Church Cathedral, is just a short stroll up Cork Hill from ‘The Queen of Tarts’. The street inexplicably changes is name to Lord Edward Street — street names in Dublin are VERY confusing.

Statue of Homeless Person
Statue of Homeless Person

Unfortunately, this statue in front of Christ Church Cathedral sums up some of my memories of Dublin’s. Like most cities, large and small, it has a major problem with homelessness, drug addiction, and poverty. While we were ‘badgered’ by beggars in most of the cities we visited, Dublin was the only one where we were ‘accosted’ and I feared we would be attacked. Most beggars sat or knelt quietly on the street with their cup or hat in front of them. It was hard to walk by without ‘lending a hand’. I refrained from the indignation of taking their picture.

Started in 1028, Christ Church has a varied church history. First as a cathedral, for the small Dublin diocese on an island of land surrounded by the diocese of Glendalough. “Christ Church is officially claimed as the seat (cathedra) of both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic archbishops of Dublin. In law, and in fact, it has been the cathedral of only the Church of Ireland's Archbishop of Dublin since the English Reformation.”  (Wikipedia) While Rome recognizes Christ Church Cathedral as the seat of the Archbishop of Dublin, he uses the church of St Mary as his acting cathedral.

We were wandering down Cook St. the St. Audoen’s school was on the right and on the left at retaining wall for St. Audoen’s Church. In a recess in the retaining wall three people were shooting up. (Nice part of town.) 

St. Audoen’s Church, actually, the first one of the two St. Audoen’s churches side-by-side on Bridge Street, is the oldest Church of Ireland parish church. (The other being Roman Catholic.) They were doing some renovations, but still offered free tours. There are a small number of artifacts and three medieval sarcophagi. The church was fairly austere — but worth a look.

Inside St Audoen's Church
Inside St Audoen's Church

Dublin at Night

I like seeing the city at night — the city takes on a completely persona at night. While Temple Bar, on the south bank pf the Liffey, is the main tourist haunt, we decided to stay on the north side to go ‘walk about’.

Henry Street was brightly lit and full of shoppers. Further on Henry Street changes name to Mary Street, by then the lighting was dimmer and there were fewer shoppers. As we reached Capel St. we were alone on the street in a more working class neighbourhood. Turning down Capel towards the River Liffey, the only places that were open were the pubs.

H'Penny Bridge from Millennium Bridge
Ha'Penny Bridge from Millennium Bridge

The R148 runs along the River Liffey. In addition to the sidewalk, a pedestrian walkway is built over the river. As you might expect, there were small clusters of youth passing the bottle and some old men nursing a bottle on their own. Some of the benches had already been claimed with people bedded down for the night. There were even a few people pitching pop-up tents. No one was rowdy enough to give me concern, but I did give them as wide a berth as I could.

On To Malaga

After three rainy days in Dublin, we were looking forward Malaga in southern Spain. 

With all the rain, we weren’t able to see as much of Dublin as we had hoped. Like many European cities, it is steeped in history and we only scratched the surface of things to see and do.