IRELAND

The 6 days I spent in Ireland really were an unbelievable series of events: some unfortunate but mostly amazing. During my time there I got to see so much, and actually learned a lot (no I wasn’t just drinking the whole time!). I got to travel across Ireland twice in one day, see the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, explore Dublin, experience St. Patrick’s Festivites in the city, and go to Belfast in northern Ireland as well. So I’ll go ahead and start from the beginning!!

Wednesday night upon arriving we got to see the city all lit up green for St. Pats and had dinner and drinks in an old church now turned into a pub! Arthur Guinness was actually married there in the 1700s, so what better place to try my first Guinness! I have always hated beer so I’m so shocked to say I actually loved it, especially with it being a dark beer! They also had Irish music and dancing so it was the perfect first night in the city. What wasn’t so perfect was trying to find our accommodation.. very long story as short as I can: there was a mix up with the address, got off at the wrong bus stop, had to cross through a forest of thorns, fell in said thorns, hop a fence with all our luggage, and eventually called an uber who also got lost. Overall very eventful and reason number one I feel lucky to be alive.

So onto Thursday! After maybe 3 hours of sleep we had to wake up at the butt crack of dawn to make it into the city center. My friend and I took a tour bus across Ireland which was less than a 3 hour trip each way. We passed through Limerick before arriving at the Cliffs of Moher. When we got there it was raining and the wind felt like I literally could get blown away. Apparently 70 people died at the cliffs last year alone and after seeing people stand along the edge I can see how. They rise up to 700 feet straight up from the Atlantic and were absolutely breathtaking. After we grabbed lunch and came back outside the sun was all of a sudden out and shining on them making them even more beautiful. The only disappointing thing was I didn’t get to see any of the puffins that live along them! :/ after we left the cliffs we drove along the Wild Atlantic Way and saw classic thatch cottages, nearly 20 castles, and stopped at the Burren national park. It used to all be under water and from far away it just looked like a bunch of rocks but up close it was amazing! After that we made our way to Galway (listening to ed sheeran’s Galway girl of course). This place was exactly what I would picture and expect of a little Irish town. There was live music all along the cobblestone streets and Irish flags literally everywhere. While I was there I tried Irish coffee and fresh ostyers that were caught in the bay right outside the town and I’ll just say both are an acquired taste.  Our tour guide told us some really interesting stories throughout the day like how the famine decreased the population of Ireland from 8 to 4 million and how even now it’s still only 6.5 million. I (naively) also didn’t even realize Gaelic is still spoke in Ireland either! Luckily everyone primary speaks English though and their accents weren’t nearly as hard to understand as I thought they would be (that is until I got up to Northern Ireland). As for reason number 2 I feel lucky to be alive: this night an aggressive stray dog stood guard at the top of our street for a good 20 minutes, blocking us from getting back until we finally hitched a ride around it.

Friday = St. Patrick’s day!!! We got a decent spot for the parade, which is less like Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade and more like a giant artistic performance with musicians and dancers in elaborate costumes and some very interesting floats, all following a different theme. At the vey end of the parade it started to pour and that sent thousands of people to find shelter, filling every single pub in Dublin. The Temple bar area was crazy and my friends and I spent the day on our own little pub crawl before we made it back to our favorite one that was 5 stories called Fitzsimon’s for the night. There were people from all over the world there to celebrate and it was awesome to be able to meet so many of them! You can assume reason number 3 of why I’m lucky to be alive.

Saturday I somehow got my butt out of bed to go to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Here we took a bus tour of the city and I realized just how clueless I was about the troubles that occurred here between the catholic and protestant populations, killing over 1600 people. This is still a hot topic since the civil unrest lasted from the 70s up until the early 2000s, with there still being a large divide between the city of those who identify as British and those who only identify as Irish. During our tour we visited the peace walls, which have actually become a tourist attraction for the city. This is also where the Titanic was built and set off for its infamous voyage. We went to the massive museum they recently built on the old site, which is also right next to the studio where majority of games of thrones is filmed. We spent the rest of the day just walking around and exploring the beautiful city, but if I ever go back and have more time I would love to take the short trip out of the city to Giant’s Causeway!

Sunday we planned to go to the Guinness Storehouse, but what we didn’t realize is that it would turn out to be an all day event. This was the final day of their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations so on each of the floors there was different live Irish entertainment, my favorite being the Irish Step dancing and also Irish folk music. Their musicians, DJs, and dancers were all phenomenal but what may have been even better was the Guinness itself. After learning about how the beer is made, the history behind it, and how to even probably taste it I appreciated trying the 7 different types even more. My favorite of which would hands down be Hops House 7 Lager, 11/10 recommend trying it! At the end of the tour we got to enjoy the best view of Dublin from the highest pub in all of Ireland. We ended our day with walking around the city all lit up green for our last night there.

Monday we did the last of our sight seeing and finally got an entirely clear and sunny day! We went to the massive Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and gorgeous gardens, had a traditional Irish breakfast (which is delicious), checked out a city market (where Mizzou was randomly represented), and explored the oasis of Trinity College’s campus in the middle of Dublin. Before we left we took in the beauty of Dublin from the River Liffey. My time here seeing so many different sides of Ireland during one of my favorite holidays was absolutely amazing. And as much as I hate to admit it, I think I truly found who has The Best Ever St. Pat’s.

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