Part of what drew us to Ireland was family – several of our ancestors emigrated from Kilmore and Loughgall, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. They came to the United States in 1736, long before Ireland earned its independence. Despite The Troubles, Northern Ireland remains a territory of the United Kingdom and not a part of Ireland proper. I am not sure if this makes us technically of Irish descent or technically of English descent, but the roots called.
To examine some reasons why the Irish emigrated and the larger impacts of Irish emigration and influence upon the world, I highly recommend a visit to the EPIC museum.
One of the first visuals that greets you is a physical representation of the many, many ships and planes that departed the country for other areas of the globe.
Seeing the number of brave people who took risks to venture out of their comfort zone in search of finding something better is inspirational. The admission is affordable, the layout very intuitive, and there are many interactive activities to engage with, including a stamp-able passport for each exhibit area. This is a stop on the DoDublin HOHO bus.
For a more sobering discovery of the force behind a lot of emigration, steps outside the museum you can find the Famine Memorial. Erected in 1997, the memorial is a graphic (and disturbing) reminder of the Great Famine that occurred mid-1800’s. During this time, Ireland’s population decreased between 20-25% due to starvation from potato blight and emigration. That’s 2,000,000 people who either died or left – in four years.
It’s about a half-hour walk back to Temple Bar area from the EPIC and famine statute area, but if it is a nice day, you are walking along the docks and can take in more of the city’s lovely and unique bridges.
For simplicity and a central location, I orient many attractions by distance from Temple Bar area. We stayed west of that area – about 15-20 minutes walk – at StayCity Aparthotels on Saint Augustine street. This location is close to stops for both HOHO and AirLink, and we had a full suite with kitchen, washer, dryer, and separate bedroom for a fair price. There is a convenience store just around the corner and grocery stores about a block away. Room blocks surround a central courtyard, and the front doors are staffed and locked after dark, accessible only to guests and employees. I would definitely stay here again without hesitation.
After checking in, we made the walk a few blocks to The Brazen Head. This is the oldest pub in Ireland, originally established in 1198. The staff is welcoming, the beer cold, and the food good. Try the mozzarella and pesto sandwich coupled with a local lager in the courtyard on a nice day.
Pubs are not the only thing Dublin has a lot of: the city also has a large number of churches. One of the most beautiful is Christ Church Cathedral, a short walk from both Temple Bar area and our home base of StayCity. The HOHO bus will also drop you here. Christ Church has served as a place of worship for nearly 1,000 years. It is a splendid example of European architecture with a towering spire, intricate tile floors, and beautiful stained glass. There are multiple smaller altars and opportunities to light a memorial candle and offer a moment of silent reflection for lost loved ones.
As you wander about the city, you will likely notice the front doors – colorful and different on each building. Urban legend has it that a prominent citizen once accidentally wandered into the wrong home after a long spell at the pub and after that ordered each door to be different than its neighbor. You will, however, see a common theme on many Dublin doors. I don’t know how effective these requests are, but I certainly appreciate them and am considering adopting the practice!
Dublin is a bustling and vibrant city, one where you have so many opportunities to make your own memories. I can’t wait to get back and make some more!
Have a favorite Dublin memory? Tell us about it!