My work took me to Ireland last week (I know, I’m a lucky girl). I’ve never been to Ireland before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I had my list of touristy things I needed to do while I was there, but some of the things I liked best had nothing at all to do with being a tourist. Here are the 8 things I love about Ireland.
1. The People (and their accents)
The most striking thing to me about Ireland was just how darn nice everyone was. My friend Kelly laughed at me when I told her how surprised at the level of friendliness, but I found it refreshing. Probably the biggest reason I would consider returning to Ireland is because of how welcoming and friendly everyone was. It made every aspect of being a tourist comfortable.
2. Pubs and Restaurants in Temple Bar
Ironically, one of my college roommates happened to be in Ireland at the same time as me. She lived in Ireland for three years, so recommended some bars and restaurants for me to try. I met her for dinner one night and we had a lovely time enjoying some local food in the Temple Bar area. The Temple Bar neighborhood is very lively and has a young and cool vibe. If you go to Dublin, you’ll definitely want to stop here for a pint or two.
I’m not that much of a ‘tour’ person, but the Guinness Storehouse tour is a must if you go to Dublin. Even if you aren’t into beer (which I’m not), the architecture alone is worth the time and money. The way they designed this space is truly amazing and the level of detail required to make the beer is pretty fascinating. On top of all that, I attended the ‘Guinness Academy’ to learn how to pour the perfect pint, which was a lot of fun. You get to end your tour in a giant bar overlooking the city of Dublin while enjoying your very own pint.
4. Grafton Street
So much great shopping on one street where no cars are allowed to drive — I’m in. Plus, if you walk by Brown Thomas, you’ll see a cute old doorman in a top hat. I happened upon a store called Avoca, which is an Ireland version of Anthropologie. They sell modern clothes, and items you can only buy in Ireland, like wool blankets and scarves.
If you are interested in where science, society, and art collide, check out Science Gallery. It is an ultra-modern science/art gallery near Trinity College. It has a new exhibition every 3-4 months, but it will always be intriguing and beautifully curated. I also loved the tiny cafe. I enjoyed a strong Americano while overlooking a busy Dublin street.
6. The Architecture
Dublin is known for all its brightly colored doors, which were fun to admire. My favorite part of Ireland architecture is how you’ll happen upon a castle or some other 17th-century building at nearly every turn. Of course, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church were gorgeous, but just wandering around the city, I loved to admire all the gorgeous architecture.
I had the chance to spend one day in Belfast. After a long day of meetings, I snuck in a black taxi political tour of Belfast. The hour and a half tour was so interesting. The driver told me all about the ‘troubles‘ and showed some of the neighborhoods where the war raged. He also showed me the art that represented those who died or became martyrs for their side of the struggle.
If you ever make it to Belfast, you might bee-line for the Titanic Museum, which was cool, but I actually enjoyed the Ulster Museum even more. It has a gorgeous modern design and houses art, natural history, and history. I just loved the architecture of this space and how everything flowed so well.
My short time in Ireland was a lot of fun. I only wish I had a couple more days to check out the cliffs and coastline.