“That’s Ireland,” The Nation in Images

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Of course, you would expect images of the Emerald Isle to show lots of green. And, indeed, we saw many verdant places on our trip, from city parks to pastures to seaside cliffs.

In this “part two” post of our trip to Dublin and parts beyond, you’ll see lots of green; but you’ll also get a perspective on the culture of Ireland and its people. (Here’s the link to “part one,” which has some images but more insight.)

Below are images of places you’d expect — pubs, the coastline, castles — and places you might not expect — a notorious prison and the outside of a discount store. But collectively, they represent the Ireland we encountered over nine days travelling by foot, bus, train and streetcar.

On a walk to the DART Sandymount station, I noticed a plaque on this handsome home. Looking closer, I learned it’s the boyhood home of famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

The Clayton Ballsbridge Hotel, built as an orphanage in 1881, was our home base. Lots of character and history.

The Dublin Horse Show was attended by thousands over its four-day run. Even non-equestrians would have been impressed.

The history of Ireland has its dark, dark sides, too. Here’s the inside of the Kilmainham Gaol, a prison built in 1796. It housed men, women and even children over the centuries. Now it’s a museum, and U2 filmed a video there.

Of course, there are lots and lots of cool pubs in Dublin. And, like this one in Temple Bar, they’re easy to find. Not sure whether the guy at bottom left wanted to be in the frame.

 

 

 

 

Sincerely doubt this was named after me. And, we not stop in for a pint. Bet I would have been treated like royalty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seaside town of Howth had lots of waterfront to explore, a tremendous old church and castle and, of course, great pubs. But my favorite part was the cliffs.

 

 

 

 

Of course I had a pint of Guinness while in Ireland. The one depicted here was hoisted during an awesome lunch of seafood chowder and crab claws in Howth.

Yes, Ireland has some spectacular castles. This one is in Malahide, a charming town along the coast. As you can ascertain, this is a real castle.

Not to diminish this more modest structure we saw in Dalkey. It’s a castle, all right. But more of a “starter” castle.

One day, we visited Belfast in Northern Ireland, still part of the United Kingdom. Yes, they’re on the British pound. This retailer is akin to our Dollar General.

The Crown Liquor Saloon (or the Crown Bar) is a Belfast treasure and part of the National Trust. Susan would concur: You will not find a cooler drinking establishment anywhere.

Looking west on May Street, Belfast does exude its British heritage. Those towers sit atop City Hall, which has a museum devoted to the city’s artists and statesmen and women.

On our visit to Galway, we encountered outstanding buskers or street musicians, like this guy, in the Latin Quarter. Look close and you’ll find Chicago among the sister cities listed on the mural.

A stroll through Galway had its magical moments. And, a visit to a local pub seemed to enhance the experience. Hey, we were in Ireland!

Galway’s a coastal town along the Atlantic Ocean. Caught a glimpse of these vessels at low tide.

 

On our final day in Ireland, I found solace and solitude along this beach in Malahide. No surfers or sun bathers, just sky, water and sand.

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“That’s Ireland.” Recalling the Land, the People and More

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

When questioned about the often spirited revelry that lasted well into the morning during the Saturday of the 2019 Dublin Horse Show, the manager of our hotel responded succinctly, honestly and effectively: “That’s Ireland.”

Attending the Dublin Horse Show, reportedly one of the top three equestrian events in the world, truly was a highlight of our trip.

Those two words encapsulated the recent visit by Susan and I to the island nation — specifically the capital city of Dublin as well as day trip visits to other cities and small coastal towns. The Ireland we experienced was a place of warmth and genuine hospitality, and the people we encountered were welcoming and truly enjoyed celebrating. And, as noted, sometimes the celebration lasted long into the night.

What follows are memories in the ongoing effort by The PRDude to share in words and pictures what was experienced and perhaps not found in a guidebook during our visits to new places around the United States and other parts of the world.

The People. From the man at the airport who helped us find our shuttle bus, to bartenders and servers at the many pubs we visited, to the guy on the DART platform who assured me I was taking the right train to Sandymount, virtually everyone we encountered in Ireland was cordial, giving and open. Casual encounters evolved into conversations. The Irish people are truly among its strengths.  Where else do people regularly thank the bus driver?

A visit to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells is recommended. Get there by 9 am to avoid the lines.

The Outlook. On a DART train ride to the fishing village of Howth, I looked to the east as the train passed over the River Liffey and through the Dublin city centre.  To the east I counted 28 construction trains; in other parts of the city, there were more.  Clearly the Celtic Tiger economy has rebounded. Dublin and other cities in Ireland are desirable and vital places, however, housing prices are soaring. Rental housing in the very upscale Ballsbridge neighborhood near our hotel, the Clayton Ballsbridge, are steep by any means, with some two-bedroom units listed at 4,000 euros.

The Countryside. Dublin, with its crooked streets, shops and pubs, street musicians and vitality, was delightful. But we wanted to see other parts of Ireland. So we traveled by train to the medieval city of Galway on the west coast, and headed up north to Belfast in Ulster or Northern Ireland. En route, we were charmed by the undulating — and yes, very green — landscape along the Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) routes to these cities. Every few miles there would be a small farm with what looked like very happy cows and goats. This was storybook stuff, unadulterated and real. Wish we could have spent time there.

The Customs House, an impressive edifice along the River Liffey, makes for a great photo.

The Language. Yes, the Irish speak English, but with an accent. And, some train messages and signage was in Gaelic — which is not at all like English!  But we picked up on some words and sayings we found fascinating. Note this list, then think of what they would mean here in America. Scroll to the bottom for answers.

  • To Let
  • Brolly/Umbrie
  • Clamping
  • Crisps
  • Mind the Gap

You may have wondered about whether we enjoyed the pubs and music.  Did we tour castles.  Oh yes.  Watch for the pictures in an upcoming travelogue post. But first, I was inspired early during our trip to compose this poem:

Dublin Rain

Cascades like a fond memory

When you can’t expect to find shelter

Somewhere on Grafton Street.

We laughed under an awning

Knowing we could make St. Stephen’s Green

Embraced by all that would not leave us wanting or caring.

Subtle bursts of blue skyward

Are somewhat welcomed, then summarily dismissed

Because you rarely hear Dublin rain and it’s not invisible.

We lingered longingly after the farewell encounter,

Hoping and envious for a reappearance

Somewhere on the next crooked, cobblestoned street

Now, for the answers:

  • To Let — To rent or lease. Think of “sublet.”
  • Brolly/Umbrie — We watched to see people were carrying these — umbrellas.
  • Clamping — Better not park your car illegally. You’ll get the boot.
  • Crisps — Otherwise known as potato chips — only the ones in Ireland were better.
  • Mind the Gap — Be careful when departing a train, otherwise you might fall into the gap between the car and station.

One more thing: Should you visit greater Dublin, take the DART south toward Bray and get off at Dalkey. This quiet town boasts many fine establishments, including Finnegan’s.  A source told us none other than Bono frequents this classic pub.  We looked in the window during our visit, but no sign of the U2 frontman.

A reason to return.