I fell in love in Ireland. Not many people get to say that, but I do. It was a dream come true.
But before I get around to that, I must apologize for the two weeks it’s been since my return – I got a lot more hours at my retail job than usual the past two weeks AND I had to research and buy a new car since I got into a nasty accident the day before I departed for Dublin. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt, but my car was smashed up pretty bad and it was worth more to fix than it was worth so it was totaled. Anyway, I digress. This post is going to be a bit long, so be warned!
On October 15, I left Ohio for a week in Dublin, my first time there since I spent the summer there 2 years ago. I got to the airport in Columbus two hours early, so I could charge up my phone and have a celebratory mimosa before the first leg of my journey, which was Columbus to Chicago O’Hare. Easy flight. However, whenever I’ve flown to Chicago in the past, I almost always have flown to the Midway airport there as opposed to O’Hare, which is massive and was kind of confusing. The international terminal was aways from the main terminal and I had to figure out where to get the shuttle, which I did with the help of several friendly airport employees. I found my terminal, charged my phone, and got food and drinks during the course of my 6 hour layover before catching an 8:20pm flight from Chicago to Dublin. I was lucky enough to have an aisle seat, but sadly was unable to sleep because I was too excited. I listened to a lot of U2, The Pogues, Riverdance, Thin Lizzy, and the Script. Especially U2.
The flight arrived in Dublin about half an hour early, which was awesome, and customs was a breeze. I had sadly spilled coffee on the plane all over my clothes, so after getting my luggage, I went to the washroom to change. After changing, I went outside and caught a cab – while cheaper, Dublin buses confuse me sometimes (I only ever took the bus once when I lived there two years ago; I walked, took the DART, or took cabs everywhere). I was at my hostel, Isaac’s, by 10:15am. I couldn’t check in til 2pm, so I just stored my luggage there and went out into the city I love most. I had agreed to meet my guy there, Dara, outside of Trinity College at noon, so I had time to kill. I went to a Starbucks on O’Connell Street and had a bag of Keogh’s Salt & Vinegar crisps for breakfast. I REALLY missed and love Keogh’s (along with Tayto of course!). I spent some time walking around the city center and getting reacquainted with my old haunts and favourite streets. Before long, it was noon and I headed over to Trinity….AND THERE HE WAS!! I basically ran into his arms, kissed him, and was wrapped in the biggest hug I have ever been given. Words don’t describe how amazing it was to finally be with him! He took my hand and we just started chatting and walking up Grafton Street to St. Stephen’s Green, where we found a park bench to take in some scenery and cuddle. We soon got hungry, so we went to a pub called Stag’s Head in Dame Lane to get some food. I had been there before to drink, but I had never eaten there, and I had a pretty tasty pulled pork sandwich. We ate there, had some beer, and cuddled in the snug we were seated in before heading back out into the day. We spent most of the day just walking, talking, cuddling, and getting to know each other. We hung out in Park of Remembrance for a bit (named for those who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising), and went to a pub called Lafayette, where we snagged a couch on the terrace, drank a few pints (I had Bulmer’s here), and cuddled. We went to a place called Gourmet Burger Kitchen (a chain in the UK and Ireland) for dinner, and I had a pretty great cheeseburger and chips. After dinner, we went to a hardware store/pub called Mary’s for a nightcap, as I was already getting sleepy since I hadn’t slept on the plane. It was a cool and funky little spot, and I quite enjoyed it. After a pint of Guinness, it was 9:30pm and I was extremely tired, so Dara took me back to my hostel. He gave my hugs and kisses goodnight and made sure I was inside before leaving. I had managed to check in during the afternoon, so my stuff was in my room already. I quickly got ready for bed and fell fast asleep. I slept for around 11 hours that night because I was so exhausted.
The next day, Dara and I planned to meet at the same place and same time as the day before. I was up and rolling at 9:30, so I had time to kill. I went to Starbucks, charged my phone, texted my parents/friends/coworkers that I was alive and happy, and grabbed a latte and chocolate-peanut bar. The stuff in Starbucks in Ireland is superior to what American Starbucks’ have. After my phone was fully charged, I walked around Grafton Street and Nassau Street and popped into a few shops and browsed around to kill time. At noon, I went to meet Dara and we walked hand-in-hand to this pizza by the slice joint near Temple Bar. I think it was called DiFontaine’s or something along those lines. 4 Euro for a slice but it was Temple Bar, and it was the size of my face, so I didn’t mind paying that. We decided we wanted to visit a relatively new museum (new since I was last in Dublin) called the Irish Rock & Roll Museum Experience, since we both love rock music that’s come from Ireland (primarily U2 and Thin Lizzy). We bought tickets for a tour that was an hour after we purchased them, and it had then started raining, so we popped into a pub across from Trinity called Doyle’s to get out of the rain and have a quiet pint. That day was the only day it rained during the whole week I spent there – I was a VERY lucky girl. After the pints (I had Guinness), we went back to the museum for the tour. It was really cool and informative, and I learned a ton about various Irish rock acts and about who recorded in the studios that were there (the Temple Lane Recording Studio). My personal favorite part of it was the room dedicated to U2 (full of records, photos, and other paraphernalia), as well as the video we watched that was an overview of popular rock, trad, and pop music that had come out of Ireland in the 20th and 21st centuries, which to me was really cool since I hadn’t heard of some of the acts talked about. Dara had booked us a hotel room for the night in the Kildare Street Hotel, so after the tour, we went to my hostel so I could grab some stuff for the night and then walked to the hotel to check in, and we just spent a couple hours just cuddling and talking and watching the TV. I changed and got ready for the night and we headed to a bar called Sam’s on Dawson Street for happy hour. It was a really nice and beautiful bar, with tons of space to boot. After our drinks, we walked to my favorite restaurant in the world, the Port House on South William Street, which is a very trendy area to eat and drink. On our way to dinner, I saw a guy in an Ohio State (my alma mater) sweatshirt and I yelled “O-H!” at him. Dara looked at me as if I had grown another head and then the guy yelled “I-O!” back to me. I quickly explained to Dara that it was an Ohio State thing. I love seeing fellow Buckeyes during my travels; wherever I go and whatever I do there will always be Buckeyes. We got to the restaurant, and since it was a Monday, it was not very busy, so we were able to get my favorite table, which is in kind of a brick cave. The Port House is dark and romantic, so it was the perfect table for us. We got a pitcher of their sangria, which is actually to die for, and we split 6 tapas (‘small plates’), which included meatballs, pork belly, calamari, and a few others. Dara loved it, which made me very happy. We then went to Ryan’s on Camden Street, which is both his and my favorite pub. We were there for several hours. We took selfies, cuddled, drank, kissed, and sang along to some of the songs playing from the jukebox. After a bit, we went down the street to another pub we both like called Flannery’s to hang out, dance, and listen to some live music. We went back to the hotel at around 2am to listen to music and hang out.
We had a very lazy morning on Tuesday. We left the hotel at around noon and went to my hostel so I could drop stuff off. Neither of us wanted to spend much money, so we decided that day that we would go to his home in a suburb called Templeogue and I would meet his family. Before heading out, we got lunch at a pub called Madigan’s on O’Connell Street, not far from my hostel. We then got the bus to Templeogue, which was about 45 minutes. We arrived to warm greetings from his parents, and I realized I had nothing to be nervous about. His parents are very warm, funny, kind, and hospitable, and I immediately felt very comfortable around them. We chatted for a bit about various things (where I’m from, what I do, the election, etc) and had tea before Dara and I went into the TV room and got cozy on the couch for a day of Netflix. We spent the day watching “Last Chance U” and “Art of the Deal”, eating pizza, and cuddling. I spent the night, so when we were done with Netflix we spent the night in his room (which is basically an AMAZING shrine to U2) hanging out and sleeping.
The next day, we had another lazy morning, and we got into the city center at 1:30 or so. While on the way in the cab, he mentioned his friends wanted to have dinner with us and meet me, which was cool. We got lunch at Trinity Bar & Venue on Dame Street, where I had a pint of Bulmer’s and this yummy chicken pesto sandwich, which I am pretty sure was the healthiest meal I had during my week there. We then went to the hostel so I could change my clothes, made a pit stop at Penney’s, the world’s best store (quality at ridiculously cheap prices, aw yeah!), and headed to the National Leprechaun Museum, which I didn’t realize was an actual thing until Dara mentioned it in one of our FaceTimes prior to my trip. It was AWESOME. I learned a ton about Irish mythology, and it was really fun. If you go and Alice is your guide, you are in for a treat! She was fabulous. After the museum, we headed to Bruxelles, a pub just off Grafton Street, for a pint. Not long after we sat down, his friends Paul, Paul, and Eoin met us there. We drank for a bit and hung out before heading to dinner at Captain America’s (lol) on Grafton Street, which yes, is an American-style restaurant. The menu was like what you would find at an Applebee’s or Chili’s. Burgers, wings, steaks, sandwiches, salads, etc. I had a burger and sweet potato fries, and Dara and I shared wings to start. Which we shouldn’t have, because I could only stomach a couple bites of my burger before I was stuffed. Afterwards, we went to a pub between Dame Street and Temple Bar called the Foggy Dew for a few pints with his friends. I really liked his friends. They’re very nice and very fun, my kind of people. Then, Dara and I went to a bar called O’Reilly’s, located along the River Liffey under the Tara Street DART station. We found a couch in the corner where we cuddled and had a pint before he took my back to my hostel. It was at O’Reilly’s where I truly realized I had fallen completely in love with Dara, and that he was my world, my lover, my best friend, everything. There were a lot of emotions that night.
The next day, Dara and I met at Trinity at noon, and had a bite at a Mexican place on George’s Street called Acapulco. I had a quesadilla with chicken, cheese, and avocado, and it was delicious. After lunch, we had our big date to the Dublin Zoo, located in Phoenix Park. I hadn’t been to a zoo in over 10 years, so I was very excited about this. We spent several hours wandering around the zoo arm-in-arm, looking at the cute animals, and taking pictures. We even got matching stuffed monkeys at the gift shop wince monkeys are a thing for us and he calls me ‘Monkey’. After about 2.5 hours, we headed out and over to the Guinness Storehouse. I make it a point to go there every time I am in Dublin, and I have now been there 4 times. It was already decorated for Christmas (this was on October 20), which was funny. We walked through the exhibits, which are really informative and high-tech, and headed up to the Guinness Academy on the 4th floor, where you can learn to pull your own pint of Guinness. I had done this before, but Dara hadn’t (he’d never done really touristy stuff before I came to visit), so we decided to pull our own pints. He poured the best pint of our group, as he is Irish and had an advantage over the rest of us. After we pulled our pints and got our pint-pouring certificates, we headed up to the 360-degree Gravity Bar at the top of the storehouse. The Gravity Bar is cool because of the amazing panoramic views of Dublin and its surrounding areas that it provides. We took some couple-y pictures with our beer and hung out for a bit before heading to a bar called Frank Ryan’s, located over the river in an area called Smithfield (where the original Jameson distillery is). Dara likes the Guinness that comes in dark glass bottles, and Frank Ryan’s is the only spot he knows where one can get them. They were very good, but I think I prefer Guinness draught. We were getting hungry, so we walked back across the river and to Dame Street to find a place to eat. We settled on Yamamori, a Japanese place I had been to a few times when I lived in Dublin that I knew I liked. I had sushi, and I forgot how big the rolls there are. I couldn’t finish them! After dinner, we planned to meet up with my friend Colum that I keep in touch with, and we met up with him and soem of his friends at the Lord Edward, across from ChristChurch Cathedral. We spent an hour or two there having the piss and hanging out, and while we were there, Colum, who works at Trinity College, offered Dara, myself, and my friend Christina arriving the next morning free admission to see the famous Book of Kells at Trinity College the following afternoon, so of course we said yes. After pints at Lord Edward, Dara and I went back to our beloved Ryan’s, where we stayed until 3:30am before getting a cab back to Templeogue.
The next day, we didn’t have a lazy morning, we got a cab into town at around 10am, which was when Christina’s flight arrived in Dublin from London, where she attends graduate school. We got crisps and a drink at a Spar (convenience store) across from Trinity and walked around the campus and found a bench to cuddle and people-watch on. We stayed there until 11:30am, when Christina met us at Trinity, and it felt SO GOOD to be reunited with my best college friend, former roommate, and hetero life partner. I’m also glad she was able to meet Dara, because I really hoped she’d like him (she likes him a lot and apparently ‘ships’ us). We got lunch at Bruxelles and a pint at Mary’s, which was a good time for Christina and I to catch up as well as for her and Dara to get to know each other. After lunch and a pint, we headed over to Trinity to see the Book of Kells, which is a must for anyone visiting Dublin. The illuminated manuscript, written by monks in the 800s, is truly stunning, as well as the Long Hall library with which it shares a building. After Trinity, Dara went home for a few hours to rest his feet and get some work done on a project he was editing so Christina and I could have some girl time. We did some shopping at Boots, since she had toiletries confiscated, and did the Irish Rock & Roll Museum since she was very interested in that and loves the music, especially U2. We also went to a gourmet grocer called Fallon & Byrne to stalk this guy she had met when she visited me in Dublin two years ago, but he was not there. We then went to the Irish Rock & Roll Museum because she wanted to see it herself, and she bought some gifts for her dad at the Harley-Davidson store since he rides Harleys. We went back to the hostel to get ready for the night, and then headed to dinner at the Port House again since she loves it too. It was delicious as always. After dinner, we went to a craft beer bar called Against the Grain on Wexford Street to have a pint with Sandra, the woman who organized my internship program in Dublin two years ago. She is truly a queen and is fabulous. I want to be like her when I’m older. Dara met us all there, and we had a nice time chatting. Sandra considers Dara and I her second ‘success story’, in regards to girls who do her program finding Irish boyfriends. Apparently another girl who did her program a few summers before I did met a guy there, fell in love, and now lives in Dublin so she could be with him. #Goals. Afterwards, Dara, Christina, and I barhopped for a while, going to Stags Head, Dame Tavern, Hogan’s, and the No Name Bar. It was great craic and Dara and Christina got on fabulously. No one felt like a third wheel and we definitely had a Three Musketeers vibe going, which was perfect. At around 1am, Christina and I headed back to the hostel for our early morning.
On Saturday, we left the hostel at around 7:30 to get Starbucks before getting our tour bus. We had booked tickets to do a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare which also included stops in Kinvara, Doolin, the Burren, and Bunratty Castle in Limerick. I slept most of the first leg of the trip to Kinvara, a small fishing town on the southern side of Galway Bay which is home to Dunguaire Castle, the most photographed castle in Ireland. Apparently a family actually lives there and they hoste medieval feasts you have to book at least three months in advance. In Kinvara, we went to the bathroom and walked around the water and took pictures. Luckily, we had a sunny day and blue skies. After Kinvara, we headed to what it called ‘the Little Cliffs’, just north of the Cliffs of Moher, to take some pictures. it was beautiful. We then went to the famous village of Doolin for lunch. Doolin is known for being the home of traditional Irish music, and hosts a huge trad music festival every summer. I definitely want to go to that one day. We ate in a famous place called Fitzpatrick’s, and I had the best salmon I’ve ever had. Ireland has my favourite seafood on the planet (along with South Africa). I got a couple souvenirs at a local shop before we got back on the bus to finally get to the Cliffs of Moher. On our way to the cliffs, the bus driver gave us an overview of the cliffs, the visitor center, the paths you can take along the cliffs, and some cautionary tales about people dying from falling off the edge of the cliffs. As someone who is a bit of a klutz, that was not what I wanted to hear before the cliff walk, but I had been to the cliffs before so I knew I’d be okay. We spent an amazing 90 minutes at the cliffs taking pictures and taking in amazing views at one of the most beautiful places in the world. After we left, we headed to Limerick to check out Bunratty Castle. I had been to Bunratty before and taken the whole tour, so I just hung out in the cafe there and charged my phone. After about half an hour, it was time to head back to Dublin. At around 8, we arrived back in Dublin and went to our hostel to change for the night and get dinner. We went to a place across from Port House called Eden, and it was fantastic. The cocktails I had there might be the best I have ever had. The Coconut Mojito and Strawberry Bliss were really world-class. We also had hummus that was AMAZING and pizza; Christina had smoked salmon pizza and I had pesto portobello pizza. Sublime food, drinks, and atmosphere made Eden a winner in my book. After dinner, we went to Ryan’s, where Dara was waiting for us with Paul, Paul, and his other friends Brian and Ethan. We spent a couple hours there hanging out and having the piss, and throughout our time there more friends of Dara’s popped by to say hello and to meet me, which was really nice. Everyone I met was cool; Dara has good taste in friends. After hanging out at Ryan’s for a while and upon seeing that the line for Flannery’s was incredibly long, we all decided to just go straight to Copper’s. Copper’s, or Copper Faced Jack’s as it is formally called, is an infamous club in Dublin where everyone ends up drunk at the tail end of their nights out for some debauchery and hopefully a hookup. We drank a ton, danced a ton, and closed the place down at 5am. Christina found a guy she wanted to hook up with, so she went home with him while I went back to Templeogue with Dara, where we had an emotional and sweet chat before we fell asleep.
We woke up at around 10 the next morning, and my man cooked me breakfast. He’s a keeper. We then went to the hostel, where I changed my clothes and checked out. We met up with Christina on O’Connell Street, where she had done a bit of shopping after she got back to the hostel early in the morning. We then all went back to collect our luggage from the hotel, and the three of us piled in a cab to the airport. As we arrived at the airport, Dara and I had our emotional goodbye hugs and kisses. It really sucked to leave. Dublin is my happy place and is home to the guy I love, and when I boarded my flight, I was crying. I even cried myself to sleep that night as I fell asleep in his t-shirt cuddling my little monkey from the Dublin Zoo. The first few days back were particularly sucky, but I’ve settled back into my nightly FaceTime routine with Dara. He plans to visit in March, and I am planning to go back this summer for two weeks since one was not enough. I already can’t wait until my next adventure!