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Welcome to Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
Nov 01, 2003

Pros : city sightseeing tour, beautiful weather, Guinness, Blarney castle
Cons : none

WELCOME TO IRELAND! After a fantastic time in Scotland and the decision made to come back, I made my way to Ireland, but it wasn’t easy. First of all, I missed my bus that took me to the bus station, so I ran there, yes ran, backpack and all, and I severely pulled some muscle in my ribs and back, but I had to catch the bus to catch the plane. So once on the bus to Glasgow, I relaxed knowing that I had an airport transfer at the bus station and a place ticket to Ireland. Once I arrived at the airport, with only 1 hour and 45 minutes till my flight, I looked all over for the Ryanair counter, only to find it didn’t exist, as I had gone to the wrong damn airport! So luckily, the lady at the info desk gave me exact direct, and said I would make my flight, not to worry. So I RAN to the bus and basically jumped out in front of it to get on, then had to catch a train to the airport. Once I arrived, I only had 25 minutes before my flight, and I though for sure they wouldn’t let me through. In fact quite the opposite, they took my luggage, checked me in, and ushered me to the front of the security line and I boarded the plane with 10 minutes to spare. Albeit, I was tired, very sore and starving, I was on my way! Upon arrival at my hostel I went directly to my room, only to find three sleeping guys. So I dropped my stuff and headed off in search of food and to check in for my Irish Rover tour that would be leaving in two days time. So after some supper and phone - calling home to tell my mom all about my fiasco, I headed back to my room to find the three guys not only awake, but standing around in their Calvin’s chatting. That old line ‘Hello boys!’ worked very well as they all became quite bashful. Quickly they scurried off to shower, and returned fully clothed to introduce themselves. They were from London and in Dublin to party, and of course invited me out, but I declined, to tired from my day’s events, but wished them a good time and headed to bed. Then after what seemed like hours, I woke up to the light being turned on and I heard whispering, first a male voice, then a female voice, and it sounded like it was coming form one of the guys bunk beds, I was absolutely mortified, I thought they had brought back girls to the hostel, so I stuck my face in the corner and hoped that it would be quiet. Finally I got back to sleep and woke in the morning, almost to scared to get up, but then found that it was another couple that had come into the room during the night, and they arrived at 10pm. I was so relived!

So my first day in Dublin was spent on a city sight seeing tour which basically means you pay once prices and can hop on and hop off as often as you like in a 24 hour period, as well there is a tour guide who provided a history and information on all the monuments etc. So I visited Dublin Castle, Christ Church cathedral and crypt (which was so amazing) and Dublinia. Dublinia is this cool sort of museum that is completely interactive and takes you through Irish and Dublin history. It was good fun and actually clarifies the city’s history and makes it very understandable. It really is geared towards kids, but I loved it too! I then grabbed a Starbucks and headed to St. Stephens Park, where I wandered about and sat on a nice bench overlooking a big pond full of ducks. The weather was absolutely beautiful and warm. Carrying on, I headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral where I heard the choir boys practicing. After all that site seeing, I decided that I needed a drink. So the two options that I had where the Guinness brewery or the St. James Distillery, and I am afraid the whiskey won that argument, so off I went to discover how Irish whiskey was made. However, I must confess, I do like Scottish whisky better!

Rovering along with Irish Rover!
Kilkenny, Ireland
Nov 03, 2003

Now this morning was fantastic as it was the beginning of my 6 day Irish Rover tour that covered basically all of the Republic of Ireland (didn’t have time to get to the north). So to start we headed out to the Dublin Mountains and into County Wicklow, where the road is narrow and winding. We stopped at Loch Dan, where the owner of Guinness used to live, made obvious by the imported white sand from Florida that was dumped at the edge of the loch to make the loch look like a pint of Guinness! We then ventured into Glendalough to see the round tower and went on a lovely forest walk to a small waterfall. It was a nice walk, but very very windy, so all the pictures came out blurry! Continuing on, we went to a town where the show Ballykissangel was filmed and had a pint in the central pub. Not quite Coronation Street, but a good fill in until I can get to Manchester! We also viewed an ancient pagan dolman, where the Pagan’s cremated and buried their people. Legend has it, that if you walk in one side of the stone and out the other, that it signifies a new beginning and fresh start, so of course I had to try it out, I will let you all know how my fresh start it! That night we spent in Kilkenny, a lovely little hostel, complete with a big warm meal, a pint of Kilkenny (or Smithwicks as the Irish call it) and live Celtic music!

Kissing Fools!
Blarney, Ireland
Nov 04, 2003

This trip is turning out to be such a whirlwind! We seem to bounce form one sight to the next, with not much time in between to spare! Unfortunately I am being very well behaved on this trip and not getting up to much mischief, as I usually do. Last night was spent cooking and relaxing, but this morning we got up early and headed to Blarney! Now Blarney is very exciting to me as it is where Blarney Castle is, and ever since I first heard about Ireland and the kissing of the Blarney stone I have wanted to try it, so it is rather monumental to be here! For those who are uninformed..haha.. the Blarney stone in Blarney castle is said to bestow the gift of the gab to those who kiss it, but you don’t just rock up and kiss a stone (hahaha). You have to climb the tower of the Blarney castle, careful to avoid the witches kitchen (loads of evil), lay down in front of the stone, while someone you don’t know and have to put all your faith and trust into holds on to you while you wiggle your way over the edge of the tower, with nothing but grass about 10 stories below you and you lean over and kiss the stone. I do have a picture of the blessed event, unfortunately taken with film, therefore I need to find a scanner! Anyhow, fantastic experience and the grounds of the castle are incredible, lush green fields with tall thick trees, full of autumn colour, it really was spectacular!