I’ve been to Dublin a couple of times and always find something new to experience. I love the lush green grass, lively cafes & bars and friendly natives. I first became interested in Dublin while reading The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning (a series of 5 books focusing on the character of Mackayla Lane, a pampered southern belle from Georgia, who goes to Dublin to find her sister’s killer). It’s based in the supernatural/urban fantasy genre and a wonderful read. What I loved about the books is that the author really took chances with the lead character and you were constantly surprised. Anyway, as I became enthralled with the series, I anticipated seeing the places she referenced. Below is a list of my favorite places, experiences & things to do in Dublin.
St. Stephens Green Park
This has to be one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever visited. It was so peaceful and even though a lot of people were about, it was surprisingly quiet.
It’s one of the two principal (pedestrian) shopping streets in Dublin city center (the other being Henry Street). With high-end shopping and entertainment, in 2008 it was named the fifth most expensive main shopping street in the world (Wikipedia). As you walk, you will see several street performers (playing blues, rock, or folk music), artists and florists. All the performers I saw were very good. Lining the streets are a variety of flower markets. I wanted to buy a bouquet and walk around with it all day because the smell and colors were wonderful!
Trinity College, formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as the “mother of a university” (Wikipedia). The campus is beautiful. It was originally a Protestant college. However, Catholics started attending the school in the 1970s. Be sure to check out the Book of Kells which is a book containing the 4 Gospels in Latin. This book was written in calligraphy during the 17th century by 4 monks and richly decorated with inks from the Middle East. It was actually pretty cool to see how rich the colors still are after all these years.
Queen of Tarts
I know I talk about food a lot…especially tea and scones. Okay, seriously? The Queen of Tarts is AWESOME! They have 2 locations very close to each other (and yes, I went to both). In fact, I went there 4 TIMES in 2 DAYS! That’s right. I am not ashamed to admit it. I love scones and clotted cream. Clotted cream is like whipped creamy crack. When I got back to Atlanta, I spent days tracking down a store that imports it and bought 4 jars. Yep…it just got real, y’all.
Temple Bar district
The Temple Bar district is an arts and entertainment maze of pubs…it’s basically the party district where most of the action is (bars/pubs, outdoor performers, etc.).
To give you a little flavor of what to expect, when I was in Dublin over the summer, my colleague & I went to the Temple Bar district and happened to walk past a pub that had gotten out of control. It’s 5pm…and these folks are drunk like it’s 2am. What the hell? Faces are red, folks are drunk screaming (you know what I mean, “WOOOOO! THAT WAS F’ING AWESOME, DUDE! I’M GONNA FIGHT LIAM IF HE LOOKS MY WAY AGAIN!”). It was one of those things where you just start backing away slowly because you didn’t know what was about to happen. When a guy came out with his face covered in purple/bluish bruises, I knew it was time to go. So, we keep walking to a different pub.
A colleague that works in the Dublin office recommended we check out a pub in this area. It was even recommended by Rick Steves. Sigh. Maybe it was an off night? We go in and I noticed the crowd was mostly elderly. I mean, they were playing ABBA. Uh, are they Irish? I didn’t think so. We take a seat at the bar and order a Guinness. This pub is on the infamous “pub crawl” which is about to start in 30 minutes or so. I’m thinking that it will get better. And, it does. But for totally different reasons.
1. Blue Collar So You Think You Can Dance (aka “The BC Onesie Crew) = a group of guys come in dressed in their work clothes. These work clothes are blue jumpsuits (like adult onesies). Instead of taking the entire onesie off, they just unzip the top part and tie the arms around the waist. Clearly they have on clothes underneath (t-shirt & jeans) so I’m not sure why they continue to wear the onesie. But, they do. Maybe it doubles as their “clubbing” outfit? As they are drinking, the onesie slides down a little more…because they are getting crunk. Guinness is potent y’all. The Irish jigs start playing and it turns into a juke joint. I’m like, “the hell is this?” Next thing I know, they are doing Riverdance and trying to pick up the nearest lady that passes them. But, not to be outdone…
2. Irish Kid & Play = that’s right. However, it really was only Kid because his partner didn’t want to drop it like it’s hot. In fact, he tried to act like Kid didn’t exist at one point. Clearly, he didn’t recognize greatness! So, Kid sees the BC Onesie Crew and was like, “I see your Riverdance, and I will raise you the Michael Jackson Experience.” Then, the greatest thing happens. Kid drops his head, raises his right arm, holds his hand up and does the Janet Jackson “Rhythm Nation” countdown, does a pop n lock before hitting us with the full turn and the MJ “Black & White” video scream into the non-existent wind machine. This happened right in front of me. I think he is a warlock with tiger blood & Adonis DNA because this was made for the win. He stops, looks at the BC Onesie Crew and was like, “Checkmate, MFers”.
You know the BC Onesie Crew weren’t going out like that. It’s time to come out of the onesie now. They take a long drink of Guinness before pulling out the advanced moves. Oh yeah, it just got really real, y’all. They are battling…with Irish jigs playing on the 1s and 2s. Y’all ain’t ready for this. So, the BC Onesie Crew raise their arms, do some sort of flapping movement (kind of like Morris Day & The Time’s “The Bird”) with a 2-step salsa and look at Kid like, “take that, take that.” What? Not Diddy! They just came with something they had practiced for the past month. This was it…their Big Joker. What they didn’t know was that Kid was going to run a Boston. He was like, “That’s all you got?” Then looks at the DJ like, “Kick an old school 13th century beat, maestro!” He takes his hat off (a la MJ at the Motown 25th anniversary when he performed “Billie Jean”), does the Cabbage Patch, mixes in some country line dancing which transitioned into the moonwalk and finishes off with the robot. Kid for the win! Y’all think I’m making this up…but I’m not. That made my night. I was like, “Jiggin’ is serious in the Dubs!” Don’t get caught slippin’ y’all. You can’t get on Ireland’s Best Dance Crew doing the electric slide.
The fitzwilliam Hotel
The fitzwilliam is a 5-star luxury hotel is fabulous and located in the city center right on St. Stephens Green. It’s one of the most comfortable hotels I’ve stayed in and is within walking distance to Grafton Street, Trinity College, the Temple Bar district, Dublin Castle and the Queen of Tarts. I would definitely stay there again.
I should also let you know that it has a spa but, um…let me tell you my about my experience and you can decide if you want to do partake of their services. I should’ve known something was up when the masseuse told me that her massages were “different”. I just didn’t think anything of it. That was my first mistake. The second was telling her that I liked a “deep” touch. The massage was supposed to be a hybrid Swedish & Aromatherapy. It starts out fine. Then I noticed that it started to hurt. Apparently, she’s got a bit of muscle because she took a “deep touch” to mean that I wanted my subdermis tissue massaged as well. I deal with it thinking that all my muscles should be nice and loose. Then…it happened. I’m lying there all relaxed about to fall asleep and next thing I know, she starts beating me! With open hands! Like I stole something from her. I was like, “Hold up, Ike! What did I do to you? Why are you hitting me?” She responds that “repetitive smacking” motions help break up fatty tissue. Um, assault and battery help remove cellulite??? The hell? I thought that she would stop beating me after she finished working on my legs. I lay my head back down…still a bit rattled but determined to enjoy my massage. Next thing I know, she’s moved to my buttocks, pulled the sheet down then starts to smack my booty! I was like, “OH HECKS NAW!” This whole Chris Brown massage was not working for me. I had to let her know that she needed to focus on smooth motions and move away from my butt. That is not where I hold my stress. Stop beating me like I’m not singing “Proud Mary” right. Because believe me…this big wheel will keep on rolling. So, after we realigned expectations, the massage went better. But, my booty still stung. I felt like I was a kid again getting a whippin’ from my Dad – which always occurred for no good reason because I was an angel as a child!
Ha’Penny Bridge & the River Liffey
Just like the name sounds…there used to be a one and a half pence fee to cross over the River Liffey (which is a river that runs thru the center of town). I don’t even know how they worked that out to make change. What I loved most was this note on the pavement as you are crossing…
The Dublin Ghostbus Tour
In one word? AWESOME! It was so campy and I loved every minute of it. But, be ready to suspend belief. The bus had blackout drapes so it was pitch dark and it was decorated like a Haunted House inside! OMG, it was fabulous.
Our tour guide was Declan. He wore all black and talked very dramatic. Like our lives were on the line. You could die at any second. Fun fact…I absolute REFUSE to watch scary movies. But, stuff like this I think I can handle. As long as Sammy Terry doesn’t come out of the woodwork. Then, all bets are off. Get the Depends because my nerves can’t take it. But, I digress…Anyway, I felt like Vincent Price would be coming over the loud speakers at any moment. In fact, our bus music as we drove to different sites was “Thriller”. Michael Jackson and looking for ghosts? Winning! They also played “Ghostbusters” which was cheesy but you know I was screaming out, “WHO YOU GONNA CALL?” That’s right. Don’t act like you didn’t just say it with me. It’s mobile theater & karaoke!
We went to a cemetery that was supposedly haunted. Declan told us the story of a priest who was tortured then burned to death for refusing to convert from Catholicism to Protestant. It’s said that his ghost haunts the cemetery. He also tells us that Bram Stoker went to school in Dublin (at Trinity College) and the legend of Dracula was born here.
We pass different places with cool stories (i.e. the College of Physicians where we are told of the strange activities of Dr. Clossy, whose spirit is still seen walking the corridors carrying a bucket of human entrails — apparently, he lived at the College and used to have students steal corpses to use as cadavers for teaching them about the human body).
There are a lot of stories (it’s a 2.5 hour tour) but the one that stuck out to me was The Lady in White. Mostly because it didn’t make any logical sense and I need to understand why things happen. Declan tells us the story of a beautiful woman who married this wealthy business man. The man loved her more than the moon and the stars and the sunshine in the sky. Air wasn’t worth breathing if her sweet breath wasn’t on it. That kind of thing. He really amps it up by highlighting how much this man loves this woman…which will be important to remember later on. So, the morning after their wedding night, the husband reaches over to kiss is wife and finds her body cold. He assumes she has died and was like, “LAWD NO! NOT MY SWEET PEA! HOW AM I GONNA LIVE WITHOUT HER?”. He has a funeral and insists that his beloved (who I’m going to name Carla) be buried in her wedding dress with her trillion dollar wedding ring. Nothing is too good for his dead baby boo. But, Seamus (the guy burying Carla) was like, “oh, I’m gettin’ that ring and then I’m going down to the pub to make it rain”). After Seamus puts Carla in the crypt, he tries to take the ring off her finger but it won’t come off. So, he pulls out his pocket knife and tries to saw off her finger. That’s when Carla wakes up and is like, “Fool, what is wrong with you?!? You betta back up off me!” Seamus is like, “OH HELL NAW!” and he runs out. Comeback Carla is bewildered as to what has happened. Maybe she thought she took a long nap after all that good lovin’ her baby boo gave her on their wedding night? Who knows? Anyway, Comeback Carla leaves the crypt and heads back to her house. Now, let’s do a quick recap before I get to the end of the story. Comeback Carla & her husband Richy Rich are so in love. Carving “CC + RR 4EVA” on every tree they pass. Because their love is real. Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby…or so Comeback Carla thought. After a night of passion, CC appears dead, RR is “devastated” as he buries his beloved boo. Are we all on the same page? Good. Now, when folks die, they are usually buried in a matter of days. So, while Declan didn’t say specifically, we’ll say a week has passed since RR thought CC died. Well, CC shows back up at the house and when her husband opens the door, she’s like, “I’m back, baby! Give me some suga!” He slams the door in her face. I’m sure she was like, “I know this fool didn’t just shut that door in my face after I’ve been buried in a crypt with this heavy-ass wedding dress on while walking 3 miles to the house after having some fool try to cut my finger off. I know that didn’t happen. RICHY! OPEN THIS MF’IN DOOR…NOW!” But, Declan said RR couldn’t accept her. WHAT? That doesn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t he taker her back? Did he have a new boo? Was he just in shock? It was a week! What the hell happened? Did Comeback Carla turn into Bitter Betty? Was it an episode of “Snapped”? I was asking questions! He didn’t have any answers. He just said that RR never took CC back and ended up losing all his money and being buried in a pauper’s grave. What? I was like, “you need to work on this story and come up with a more plausible ending, Dec.” Seriously. I ended up Googling the story because I needed to know why RR wouldn’t take her back. Something had to have happened. There were at least 10 stories about a Lady in White in every city but Dublin. I’ll let you do draw your own conclusions.