MSMU Travels

Grafton, Guinness, & Good Craic: A Whirlwind Weekend in Ireland

Last weekend, Dr. Kennedy and I embarked on our 4-day trip to Dublin, Ireland to collect data for my Honors Project, capture content for this Travel Blog, and visit with the Mount students studying abroad in Dublin during their last weekend abroad. It was a whirlwind trip that will be difficult to summarize in this blog post, but I’ll try!

Our plane touched down at approximately 4:45 a.m. on Thursday morning in Dublin, which meant it was just pushing 12:00 a.m. in the United States. After proceeding through customs, baggage claim, and navigating through the airport, we found our AirLink Express bus which drove us into the city. From the bus stop, it was about a 5 minute walk to our hotel. Once we dropped our bags, we realized it was only 6:15 a.m. which meant we had the whole day ahead of us.

We quietly waited in the lobby of The Dean Dublin hotel to go to a restaurant called Sophie’s which was on the top floor of the Dean. The restaurant opened at 7 a.m. and we were able to have a nice leisurely breakfast while the rest of the city woke up!

After breakfast, we took to the streets of Dublin in the rain to visit the Wild Rover Tour Company office to pick up our Guinness Storehouse tickets, since that was our first tourist attraction on our agenda.

Once we reached the Guinness Storehouse, we quickly realized we could have dedicated a whole day just for this one site. Our tickets granted us access to the 7 floors full of Guinness, complete with information on the brewing process, the history of Guinness’ advertising, tasting rooms, and restaurants. The final stop on the self-guided tour was a ticket for a free pint of Guinness at the Gravity bar at the top floor of the Storehouse. The top floor features a 365-degree view of Dublin. Although it was cloudy, we were still able to glimpse a beautiful view of Dublin from the bar, while enjoying our pints.

After the Guinness Storehouse, we made our way back across to the other side of the River Liffey to meet Dr. Patterson at Griffith College City Centre, where I began my interviews for my Honors Project. I was able to conduct 11 interviews with Mount students who were participating in the study abroad semester in Dublin. Each interview lasted around 15 minutes and asked the students to reflect on how this study abroad semester has impacted them.

Dr. Kennedy and I standing outside Griffith College, which is where the Mount students in Dublin have been taking their classes!

After interviews, it was time to go back to our hotel, check in, and get ready for dinner. For dinner, we ended up meeting up with Mount alum Ian Carroll C’19 who was in Dublin visiting Sam MacDonald over the same weekend. Ian also participated in the Dublin Study Abroad trip during his junior year at the Mount. The four of us went to a traditional Irish Pub called Bruxell’s. I ordered a traditional Irish dish called Bangers and Mash, which was 2 large sausages served with creamy mashed potatoes that were topped with a yummy onion gravy.

After a long day of traveling and walking all around Dublin in the rain, Dr. Kennedy and I were eager to get a good night’s rest! Day 2 started with checking off a couple more bucket list items. After breakfast at our hotel, we walked through St. Stephen’s Green on our way to Trinity College.

Contrary to Thursday, Friday was sunny and a little warmer in Dublin. We first visited St. Stephen’s Green, then walked along Grafton Street on our way to Trinity College.

Trinity College was such a beautiful campus. We spent time walking around the grounds, before visiting the Long Room which houses a beautiful library and the Book of Kells.

After visiting Trinity College, we stopped by a local coffee shop called 9th Degree Coffee to warm up for a few minutes before heading back to Griffith to meet more students to interview for my research for my Honors Project. After the interviews were complete, we stopped by another cafe called MochaLand for an afternoon snack and some much needed WiFi. All throughout our trip we were posting content to @msmutravels which is the Instagram account associated with this blog. Our hotel’s WiFi proved to not be reliable, so every chance we had we found someplace with WiFi to keep our followers updated on what we were up to! After MochaLand, the sun was starting to set, so we made our way back to the hotel before meeting up with some Mounties at The International Bar, which had some live music, good sandwiches and soup, and lots of different local brews on tap.

Dublin sunset

Saturday started bright and early, because we booked an all-day trip to the West Coast of Ireland. At 6:55 a.m., we boarded our Wild Rover Company tour bus and drove all the way from Dublin to our first stop, the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs were absolutely beautiful and absolutely windy. We had to hold on to our sunglasses and hats (and Dr. K’s coffee) throughout our whole visit. However, battling the wind was totally worth it! We were even lucky enough to see a rainbow over the ocean while we were walking the cliffs.

After the Cliffs, we took a 2-hour bus ride to Galway City. On our way around the west coast of Ireland, we stopped to look at the Burren National Park where it seemed as though we were walking on the moon!

After we stopped to walk along the Burren, it was back on the bus again to Galway! We had about 2 hours to walk around and explore Galway before heading back to Dublin. We stopped in a local restaurant for a snack, walked along the main city center of Galway, and did some shopping!

After spending time in Galway, we got back on the bus for our final 3 hour ride of the day. Once we reached Dublin at 8:00 p.m., we headed straight for our hotel to get a good night’s rest!

Sunday was our last full day in Dublin. We started with a full traditional Irish breakfast at our hotel, and then went to mass at St. Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church, which was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel.

After Mass, we spent our last afternoon in Dublin walking around the city and doing some shopping. We had to make sure to get enough souvenirs for our friends and family and then, maybe even more importantly, we had to run back to our hotel to figure our how we were going to pack up our suitcases.

After packing, we headed to the Brazen Head, which is said to be the oldest pub in Ireland. There, Dr. Kennedy and I met up with some of the Dublin bloggers, Sam, Mason, and Eden to visit with them and get their feedback on their blogging experience this semester.

Pictured left to right: Sam, Dr. K, Emma, Eden and Mason

From the Brazen Head, we headed to the Grand Social to see Scythian, an Irish/Americana/Folk/Roots band from the D.C. area. They were ending their Ireland tour in Dublin on Sunday night with a free show, and we had a blast singing and dancing all night along with them! Now, we’re trying to figure out how to get them to come play at the Mount…

When the concert was over, we headed over to the Temple Bar area for our last night in Dublin. We had such a whirlwind of a trip, and leaving the city after 4 jam-packed days was not easy. We felt as though we did so much, but left with a longer to-do list of things we wanted to do the next time around!

The Temple Bar all lit up at nighttime!

After such an amazing and unexpected experience, now we find ourselves back at the Mount to wrap up the fall semester and to analyze the data for my Honors Project, with the results being shared with our campus community at SPARC in the spring. And over the next couple of weeks, Dr. Kennedy and I will share some of our favorite moments and other memorable take-aways from this once in a lifetime experience, and we’ll also be sharing the post-trip reflections of our Dublin bloggers who have already wrapped up their semester. Make sure to check back and continue to follow us on Instagram – @MSMUtravels.

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