Jake and I arrived in Dublin on the morning of March 16, just enough time to get our bearings before St. Patrick's Day the next day! We easily took the Air Coach bus from the airport to our neighborhood, Ballsbridge, and walked down the block to our next temporary home, 44 Pembroke! Our host, Mary, showed us to our room (our giant room), and after a quick break, we set out to explore. To our complete shock and surprise, our Dublin home was 5 doors down from the brand new, not even finished with construction yet, Eaton Corporation world headquarters! What a coincidence that we ended up staying just steps away from the new office of Jake's old employer! Ha!
The city was all a buzz with excitement over the coming holiday. And, little did we know, a festival had already been going on for almost a week with St. Patrick's Day as the grand finale! Within 10 minutes we were in the middle of it all; walking past a stage set up near St. Stephen's Green where live music was being played and a group ceili lesson (traditional Irish dance) was taking place for the hundreds of spectators, revelers were drinking Carlsberg in the park, street theater was happening down toe road, and Grafton Street was busy with locals and tourists taking in the scene. Green was everywhere -even the buildings around the city were shining bright green lights on the walls to "Green the City" by night! Jake and I felt like kids in a candy store, whipping our heads around whenever we heard another Irish brogue, great big smiles on our faces as we passed another small band on the street playing traditional Irish music, practically running through the doors of our first destination, O'Neills Pub, like it was Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. We're in Dublin!
O'Neill's Pub was, in a word, astounding! The place was HUGE and people were everywhere! Within the multiple stories, there were multiple bars and a carvery serving incredible pub food. We hadn't really eaten that day and we were STARVING, so we treated ourselves to some traditional pub fare. Even now, a week later, I'm still thinking about that meal. Maybe it was the magic of being there during the holiday, maybe it was the fact that it was all new and exciting, or maybe it was just THAT good, but that stuffed pork chop and beef stew, both with 3 kinds of potatoes and other veggies, washed down with Tom Creans lager and Smithwicks red ale was perfect. As we devoured our grub and enjoyed our beers, we started chatting with a nice German sitting next to us, Sebastian. We had so much fun talking with him that we plan to look him up when we get to his hometown, Munich, and grab another beer with him! You never know where or when you'll make friends!
Happy (and very full), Jake and I headed out into the cold evening air. We wandered the green lit streets and took pictures along the way. Dublin had already made us feel welcome, like we belong there, and we instantly fell in love with it.
The next morning we headed out to grab a full Irish breakfast and stake out a good viewing spot for the big parade.While none of the pubs we wanted to go to were serving breakfast when we needed it, we did get a taste of a good Irish breakfast at an order-at-the-counter type of joint called KC Peaches. We enjoyed our eggs, sausage, white and black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, and toast in the warm restaurant before heading out to claim our position at the barricades on the street outside for 3 hours.
It was great fun watching the area slowly get jam packed with responsible revelers, parade watchers, and early morning drinkers. And then, at 12:45, the parade had finally made it down the route to us! Now, my experience with parades is limited- the Rose Parade is what I compare all other parades to. The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin is NOTHING like the Rose Parade - this thing is very…weird! Of course there were some bagpipes and horses and some guy dressed as St. Patrick. And then there was also Dracula, lots of groups dressed up as various bugs, other groups dressed up as mad scientists, marching bands from American universities complete with cheerleaders and flag girls…It was certainly not what we expected! We had a blast watching all of the odd groups walk by. All of a sudden the parade was over, and all of the people retreated into the nearest pub they could find. So Jake and I followed suit.
We grabbed a pint at a pub called Bruxelles. While we were there we chatted with a nice couple from Donegal who were in for the holiday. They suggested we check out the Donegal Cliffs instead of the Cliffs of Moher. Thanks for the tip! But I'm not skipping the Cliffs of Moher! Maybe on the next trip. After we finished our pints, Jake and I wandered out into the fray. Confused by all of the very young, very drunk, kids we saw wandering about, we confirmed the drinking age in Ireland is 18. We wanted to see where all the young kids hang out, so we wandered down some small streets, crowded streets to Temple Bar!
Conclusion - I'm too old to be in Temple Bar. This place was CRAZY! If I were still in college this is DEFINITELY where I would be. Kids screaming "oggy oggy oggy! Oi oi oi", people falling over from sheer intoxication, smiles and laughter and kissing people at every turn. It was a mad house. Jake and I stayed long enough to take a picture and then went as quickly as possible back to Bruxelles, where the late 20s and 30s crowd was, more calmly, enjoying the day. This time we met a girl from San Diego who was treating herself to a little vacation and traveling alone, Allison. We shared stories with her for awhile, saw pictures of her adorable niece (I rarely will turn down pictures of cute babies and puppies), and then decided it was time to go home to take a break. And, we were hungry. So, since we were in Dublin, it was St. Patrick's Day, and we were so excited to eat what the locals eat…we got burritos. I know! I know- blasphemy! But all the pubs weren't serving food anymore and we didn't want to wait until restaurants opened up later. We got awesome burritos at some place that reminded us of Chipotle and enjoyed every, last, bite.
Kudos for us old folk! We actually went out one last time that night! We decided that we had to see how crazy everyone got on St. Paddy's night after a rip-roaring day. Turns out, not so crazy. Apparently everyone had gone out hard the night before since there was no school or work on the 17th. Ah, that makes sense. So, most responsible people were taking it easy. Jake and I still enjoyed the people watching at a local watering hole called O'Donaghue's- there was traditional music being played, girls who were trying to solve their boy troubles, and 22 year olds ordering Irish Car Bombs (seriously, and these were locals!), Jagerbombs (ouch), and Smirnoff Ice (the legal drinking age is 18 here, maybe that explains it)…ok, not everyone was taking it easy.
The next day we lazily wandered around the city, walking around Trinity University, St. Stephen's Green, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. We also made a short list of what to see when we circle back around to Dublin in 10 days - Guinness, 37 Dawson, and a few others. On the 19th, we picked up our rental car and headed out on our Irish Adventure! First Stop, Kinsale!