This weekend was allotted as a travel weekend for our program, so six others along with myself traveled to Dublin, Ireland, for a two-day adventure.
We started off Friday by taking the Britrail to the port city of Holyhead and taking a ferry to Dublin.
Before boarding the ferry, our group was noting how the British aren’t the most hospitable of people, as we have become acclimated to the Southern charm of Dallas. Ironically, while on the double-decker bus from the ferry to our hostel, we encountered a group of Irish gentlemen who were beyond entertaining. They found out I was from Nashville and proceeded to sing Johnny Cash to our group, then we all sang in unison. It was quite hilarious, and a fantastic event foreshadowing our time in Dublin.
After checking into our hostel, we ate at O’Shea’s, a traditional Irish pub with great food and cool live Irish music.
The next day, Saturday, was our only full day to explore the city, so we started out early and ventured to Trinity College. One of the girls in our group retraced the steps of her father, as he studied at Trinity during his undergraduate career. We then visited Dublin Castle, which was underwhelming compared to the other castles we have visited during our program. The fact that we have seen so many castles is unbelievable in itself and really reflects the extensive history of Europe that is still intact.
We then went off to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland. Outside of the edifice is a beautiful park where we regained energy from all of our walking. Although the weather forecasted thunderstorms during our stay, it was sunny as ever. It was a nice break in the middle of our day to reflect on our thoughts and also get some great pictures.
Next stop was the Guinness Factory. From our first dinner at O’Shea’s we learned that Guinness is a way of life for the Irish and a true sense of identity. There is even a bridge shaped like a harp (Guinness’ logo) on the river. The storehouse was very interesting even with my extreme disgust toward beer. The founder of the famous brand, Arthur Guinness, signed a 9,000-year-lease that we were able to view.
We were taken on an interactive tour of how the stout is made. We were able to see, feel, and even taste some of the ingredients. There were floors that encompassed the history of the company, advertising, and much more. The tour culminated with a stop at the Gravity Bar that allowed a 360-degree view of Dublin.
Afterward we walked across town to the Street Performance World Championship. We saw a pretty graphic act that included putting a two-edged sword down a throat and the juggling of three sharp knives while on a nine-foot unicycle. My stomach can’t handle things of that sort, so I resorted to taking artsy photos of my surroundings.
We returned back to the O’Shea pub, where we made lovely friends. The same musician from the previous night was playing, so we had no choice but to sing and clap along with the traditional Irish songs! By the end of our two visits he referred to our group as, “Texas.” We couldn’t be more proud of that, as we left a wonderful representation of not only Texas, but also SMU.