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Our 15-day road trip of Scotland and Ireland ended with an overnight in Dublin. We couldn’t resist checking out O’Donoghue’s Bar (15 Merrion Row) after reading Lonely Planet’s review stating it as “This, the most famous traditional music bar in Dublin, is where world-famous folk group ‘The Dubliners’ started off in the 1960s.”

O'Donoghue's Bar sign, Dublin, Ireland

O’Donoghue’s Bar sign, Dublin, Ireland

O'Donoghue's smoking section

O’Donoghue’s smoking section

O’Donoghue’s Bar is a great place to have a drink and listen to Irish music. The bar seems to attract locals and visitors alike. I noticed there were those in suits just coming from work and those in jeans/casual clothes. Interestingly, they stayed on different sides of the bar but the great equalizer was the smoking area where the two came together. Sort of ~ in the photo it still seems like suits on the right, jeans on the left.

Since I wasn’t thrilled with my previous visit to Dublin, I decided to scan blogs instead of the guidebooks for something to do prior to our late afternoon flight home to London. I was hoping to gain sage advice from a Dubliner and thankfully, I happened to find Arran Q Henderson’s blog post “Top Dublin Sights and Visits” (click here to read it). As soon as I read University Church as one of his suggestions, I knew I could trust his recommendations. Here’s what we ended up doing:

We walked through St Stephen’s Green to the Canal.

Fusillier's Arch, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland

Fusillier’s Arch, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, Ireland

Robert Emmet (1778-1803) Statue in St Stephen's Green, Dublin Ireland

Robert Emmet (1778-1803) Statue in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin Ireland

I was intrigued by the statue of Robert Emmet. Two things caught my eye: he died so young and the plaque read “Presented by The Emmet Statue Committee of the United States of America.”  I decided to research the life and legacy of Robert Emmet. Born to wealthy Protestant parents, he sympathized with the unfair representation the Irish Catholics had in Parliament. He became an Irish Nationalist who was executed by the British for plotting a rebellion. He was captured when he moved from his hiding place to be with his lady-love thus becoming not only an heroic figure but a romantic one as well in Irish history. Robert Emmet also sympathized with American Revolutionaries and, after his execution, his older brother emigrated to the US. There are towns in several states named after Robert Emmet and there are similar statues of Robert Emmet in Washington DC (Embassy Row) and in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Canal Lock, Dublin Ireland

Canal Lock, Dublin Ireland

Bikes and Bikes along the canal in Dublin, Ireland

Bikes and Bikes along the canal in Dublin, Ireland

Handsome Mallard, Dublin, Ireland

Handsome Mallard, Dublin, Ireland

Brisge over canal, Dublin, Ireland

Bridge over canal, Dublin, Ireland

As we left the canal and headed toward St Patrick’s Cathedral, we walked through a non-tourist neighborhood of Dublin. It was obvious to those around us that we weren’t from the ‘hood. A very nice gentleman chatted me up at the cross walk and he pointed out different interests in the neighborhood including telling me about a church which had been converted to apartments. Would love to see inside:

Protestant Church Converted to Apartments

Protestant Church Converted to Apartments

Tiki Heads (?) in Dublin, Ireland

Tiki Heads (?) in Dublin, Ireland

Mural in Dublin, Ireland

Mural in Dublin, Ireland

We finally made it to St Patrick’s Cathedral along with a large group of French teenagers (at least 40 of them). Couldn’t believe how many of them smoked.

St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Ireland

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Ireland

Always fun to find free WiFi

Always fun to find free WiFi

After spending more time in Dublin, I started to see more of its charms! I wouldn’t be adverse to another visit to the city.

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From Dublin, we drove through The Burren which is the region in North County Clare between Clare and Kinvara. The natural beauty of this area is breathtaking. We had reservations in a little town on the coast of The Burren called Doolin. We decided since we were leaving the city behind, we would opt for a small B&B called Kate’s Place. What a great choice. With only 3 rooms and it being brand new, we were treated to a very clean, charming little B&B with super friendly hosts, delicious & extremely filling breakfasts, and access to information about the area by someone who’s lived there all her life. We only stayed two nights but I was very tempted to spend the remainder of our vacation there (three additional nights).

Entering The Burren, County Clare, Ireland

Entering The Burren, County Clare, Ireland

Kate's Place B&B

Kate’s Place B&B

Driving into Doolin made me feel like I was back home on the Big Island (Hawaii). I know comparing Ireland to Hawaii sounds strange but the north part of County Clare has a similar landscape and feel to it. There are lots of wide open spaces, cattle grazing in the green fields, it’s a bit windy, hilly and, oddly enough, lots of surfboards on top of the cars. Although the Western Coast of Ireland is known for surfing ~ the air/water temperatures is where the comparison to Hawaii ends. It was still freezing when we arrived in Doolin.

Doolin's Narrow Road

Doolin’s Narrow Road

Church in Doolin, County Clare

                                                  Catholic Church in Doolin, County Clare

Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Narrow Road Driving to Doolin, County Clare

Narrow Road Driving to Doolin, County Clare

More Sheep in Doolin

More Sheep in Doolin

House in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

House in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Pier in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Pier in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Stream in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Stream in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Doolin is known for its traditional Irish music at the pubs and O’Connor’s Pub has nightly music at 9:30 pm. Since it was Easter Monday, they also had a small band playing at 6:30pm. While the local musicians played, a local Irish singer named Ted McCormac joined in and it was fabulous! Felt fortunate to hear him sing.

O'Connors Pub in Doolin, County Clare

O’Connors Pub in Doolin, County Clare

On the second night at O’Connors, we saw the owner of the B&B join in the band with his button accordion. The best Irish music is when the locals get together and join in randomly.

I didn’t drive while we were in Scotland but have since taken to the wheel. So far, I haven’t had any trouble with remembering to stay left when driving and shifting with my left hand instead of right is easy. In fact, I prefer driving to being a passenger…especially since John always asks “would you like “on-coming traffic side” or “stone wall side” ~ both choices are stressful.

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