Dublin. Sigh. Whether I was born a McGinn or not, I think that Ireland would make me feel innately at home. To the Irish, life is all about living...ok....and drinking. Their cuisine is minimal. Their historic sites are crumbling Celtic ruins. Their people? They are truly priceless.
Their unique outlook places a low value on material possessions unlike many other "Westernized" nations. From the devastation of the Potato Famine in the late 19th century to the terror from the IRA throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, Ireland's people have experienced their fair share of hardship and loss in recent times.
Yet, despite their sorrows, Irishmen manage to be flirtatiously friendly and happy-go-lucky. Their playful self-deprecation is rampant and – while at times, exasperating – it can charm the socks off of any American girl. Consider yourself warned.
FYI it WILL rain.
Let's be real, the Irish aren't known for their culinary prowess. Expect lots of meat and few greens when you're trying out traditional fare. Fortunately, once you've had your complete fill of bacon and blood sausage, there's a booming Asian restaurant scene to check out. In fact, the best Indian food I've ever eaten was in Dublin, so don't be bashful about embracing other cultures' cuisines while you're there.
- Brazen Head: the oldest pub in Dublin. Go for one of their storytelling dinners.
- M.J. O'Neill's: try their Guinness Stew.
- Porterhouse: for food, beer sampling, and live music.
- Ruposhi: for insanely good and affordable Indian food.
- Hop House/Kimchi: solid Korean grub.
Dublin is a hoot. From its hilarious mix of characters to its live music scene, the city's culture and energy can easily win over anyone's heart. But Ireland's countryside is absolutely breathtaking, so a day trip outside of the city is a necessity. Luckily, the country is so small that this is totally doable by public transportation.
Though super touristy, the Guinness Factory is another must-see. Sipping on a perfect pint while taking in sweeping views of Dublin is worth waiting in line for. However, many of Dublin's other popular attractions like Dublin Castle and The Book of Kells – though, Trinity College where they're held is worth checking out – leave a little to be desired.
Truth be told, when in Ireland, we drink. List of watering-holes along with other worthy attractions provided below...
- Flannery’s Bar, The Old Storehouse, The Market Bar, Capitol, and Bernard Shaw Bar (if you're missing Brooklyn) for brews.
- Bray Cliff Walk: for a half-day trip outside of Dublin's city proper. Accessible by DART.
- Howth: also outside of Dublin. Be sure to grab some seafood and go to Howth Cottage Market while you're there. Also accessible by DART.
- A futball game at Aviva Stadium or Gaelic games at Croke Park.
- Kilmainham Gaol
Before you go
I personally am particularly fond of Irish literature and music. Maybe their persistent themes of manhood melodrama is what really gets to me. Joyce, Yeats, and – of course – Bono manage to maintain a certain masculinity in their highly sensitive and symbolic pieces of work.
From the complexity of the characters in Dubliners to the forlornness of When You are Old, and the haunting, ambient sounds of Joshua Tree, there's a certain spirituality and nostalgia about Irish art that I find so raw and appealing.
- If you want to be in the thick of it, this Airbnb for up to four in Temple Bar area at $101/night.
- This Airbnb for two at $93/night.
- Or this Airbnb for two by the Liffey for $100/night.
- The Russell Court Hotel