From my crush on Aidan Turner to my childhood fondness for B*Witched, something about Ireland has always appealed to me. It felt natural that one of my closest friends in my first term at Warwick hailed from Dublin and I was heartbroken when she transferred to the city’s Trinity College.
The distance between our campus accommodations became the Irish Sea but nearly a year later, and thanks to a £30 return flight from Birmingham, I grasped the much-awaited opportunity to visit her and experience Dublin.
Set to arrive on Thursday night and depart on Saturday night, I had a mere 48 hours to drink in all that the Republic of Ireland’s capital had to offer.
The university is steeped in a rich history dating back to Elizabethan times…
The first thing that Friday had in store was a tour of Trinity College, Dublin. After Warwick’s 1960s landscape, Trinity College’s campus is a feast for the eyes. As well as the stunning architecture, the university is steeped in a rich history dating back to Elizabethan times, making it a must-see when exploring the city.
The highlight of the visit was the tour of the university’s Old Library, the largest library in Ireland; home to the 65-metre-long main chamber, the Long Room. Lined with marble busts of famous philosophers and writers, as well as endless shelves of antique books, the old-book smell of the Long Room alone makes it a bibliophile’s paradise. If that’s not enough, original works of Irish literary greats, including Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker, are exhibited in the library, as well as the famous ‘Book of Kells’; an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin widely-regarded as Ireland’s finest treasure.
The castle is still used as a location for important political occasions in Ireland…
I couldn’t visit Dublin without seeing the beautiful castle, the next stop on my day in the city centre. With its cobbled courtyard, medieval tower and twisting spires, the castle is reminiscent of a fairy tale or period drama; appropriate since it has appeared in numerous films and TV shows such as ‘Becoming Jane’ and ‘The Tudors’.
In addition to its aesthetic grandeur, the castle is still used as a location for important political occasions in Ireland, with it being the venue for state dinners as well as the inauguration of Irish presidents.
This makes the castle well worth a visit, be it for interest in Irish politics, or for the benefit of your Instagram account (my priority was the former, of course…).
Whizzing around Dublin can work up quite the appetite but, being a vegan, eating out in new cities can be tricky. However, this was far from the case. There was a plethora of options, but we settled on Cornucopia, a popular vegetarian restaurant nestled in the centre of the city. The food, which changes daily, was fresh and delicious and the portions were plentiful given the reasonable price we paid.
A pint of Guinness in hand (when in Rome and all…) and the sound of ‘Fairy tale of New York’ filling the room…
Following our delicious dinner, we spent our Friday night in Temple Bar, an area of Dublin packed with traditional Irish pubs and modern cocktail bars. We ended up in an Irish pub which was packed with revellers, live music from an Irish band, and the smell of Guinness. With a pint of Guinness in hand (when in Rome and all…) and the sound of ‘Fairy tale of New York’ filling the room, my night could not have been more Irish, and I would urge anyone visiting Dublin to spend an evening in this lively and welcoming part of the city.
Thanks to the Dublin Area Rapid Transit system (DART), it is easy to escape the bustling centre; and that is exactly what I did on Saturday by visiting Greystones, a coastal town south of Dublin.
With a stunning coastline and picturesque town centre, Greystones offered a perfect place to relax before my trip back home. The coast is beautiful and, with the main beach providing a perfect view across the Irish Sea (on a clear day you can see Wales), I cannot think of a better way to experience a more tranquil side to Ireland.
We feasted on mouth-watering delicious vegan croissants, washed down with the best almond milk cappuccino…
However, the best part of the day was undoubtedly brunch. We visited Greystones’ independent vegan café The Happy Pear, where we feasted on mouth-watering delicious vegan croissants, washed down with the best almond milk cappuccino I’ve ever tasted. Vegan or not, Greystones is worth the trip just for the visit to this charming café.
The DART ride back to the city centre was another highlight. It travelled along the Irish coast, giving an exquisite view of both the ragged cliffs and Greystones’ neighbouring seaside towns.
Despite only spending two days in Dublin, I took away so much from the trip. Leprechaun souvenirs and newly acquired fondness of Guinness aside, the trip proved to me that it isn’t necessary to spend a long time in a place to experience everything it has to offer, and I would recommend a whistle-stop tour of Dublin to anyone.