A Long Weekend in Dublin

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Although many swear by solo travel, traveling with company certainly has its benefits. Even traveling with family, which, granted, can be a bit stressful, can also be an incredibly enriching experience. Today’s guest poster, Rita Foley, co-author of the newly released book, Revolutionary Retirement. What’s Next for You walks us through her special weekend in Dublin while traveling with her son, Nat.

I have two sons, and I am always thinking of ways to connect with them. It used to be sports, but my aging body just can’t keep up. Video games – no way. Besides food, I find one of the best ways to connect with my sons in my retirement is through travel. I take them and their girlfriends away for a week, usually at Thanksgiving. Then I invite one boy a year to travel alone with me.

That’s how Nat and I got to spend four of the most memorable days together in Dublin this past autumn. I use a cane these days, but Dublin is a compact, easy-to-navigate city. Many of our activities were within walking distance of our hotel. Cabs were plentiful, friendly and reasonable.

Guinness Storehouse
Nat on his way to Guinness Storehouse

With a 29 year-old son, the first stop, of course, had to be the Guinness Storehouse Museum. It’s situated amidst the cobble stone streets and old imposing buildings of the still functioning Brewery. I found it one of the cleverest museums I have ever visited. There are large video screens everywhere with actors playing the roles of founders explaining all the processes of brewing. After visiting the tasting room, we had lunch at the pub. Be sure not to miss going to the top floor Gravity Bar, which has a 360-degree view of Dublin.

The next day, we had a guided tour of Hugh Lane Gallery, a charming building that houses modern and contemporary art, including the entire contents of Francis Bacon’s studio. We were then invited by friends to dine with them at the majestic St Stephens Green Hibernian Club, also just around the corner from our hotel.

Following our art stop, we toured the Leinster House and the Irish parliament. Perhaps the highlight of this day,though, was the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. What a fun way to visit the city’s historic pubs in the company of two actors who introduce you to some of Dublin’s most famous writers. Joy, Behan, Becket, Yates and more…I loved the intimacy and felt as if I was back in the period of those writers.

On Saturday, we took a guided walking tour of old Dublin, visiting several of Dublin’s most historic and well-preserved buildings. The tour included St. Patrick’s Cathedral,Marshes Library and Dublin Castle.

We then headed over the Chester Beatty Library, which houses rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe that open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world.

Trinity College
Nat at the gates of Trinity College aka Hogwarts

From 2:30 to 4:30 we had a guided visit of the Old Library and the Book of Kells at Trinity College. My son wanted his photo taken at the college gate and some of the scenes where the Harry Potter movies were made. We loved learning about the college and visiting some of their awesome buildings, such as the engineering building and the exam hall. We were both then awed by seeing the Book of Kells and all the other hand-painted and gold-gilded manuscripts.

Trinity College
Nat and I on the steps of the Engineering building, Trinity College

Before joining some friends for dinner at their home, I stopped at one of the local pubs to watch the Hurling cup finals on TV and the crowds cheering on their favorite team. If you have never seen Hurling, the Irish national sport, go to a game if you can. It’s fast and amazing. Nat chose to go out with kids his own age. Someone we had just met on the trip connected him via text to her daughter, who invited him to join her and a group of friends from Trinity College Medical School. Nat had great fun at dinner followed by visiting some of the trendy clubs in the downtown area.

Powerscourt Estate and gardens
Powerscourt Estate and gardens

On our last day in the Irish capital, we decided to explore a bit of Coastal South County Dublin. We took a guided scenic coach tour of North Wicklow, which included Sandymount, Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Bray, the Sugarloaf Mountain and Powerscourt House and Gardens. And scenic they were! The Powerscourt gardens date from the 1730’s and include the Italian garden, the Japanese garden, Tower Valley and the Pepper Pot Tower, terraces and the informality of the sweeping herbaceous border. powerscourt.com

After a day of sun, blue skies, green hills and strolling in some of the most beautiful gardens in the world, we were tired and opted to order room service for dinner. And of course there was even US Sunday night football on TV for my son. We didn’t have time to take to take in a game of Irish football, but if you do, consider a visit to Croke Park, Dublin’s 82,300-capacity stadium for Celtic football. Gaelic games commenced there in 1884.

Have you had an active family trip to Dublin you’d like to share? Come join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook. Or send me an email with your thoughts.

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