On Monday I returned from a 3 days, 2 nights weekend break in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. To celebrate half term, and a break from children and lesson plans, my friend and I found really cheap flights, £20 return, from Birmingham to Dublin through a CheapOAir offer.
We were very unorganised and barely managed to change our currency in advance, but we had researched some hostels and booked ourselves in to Barnacles Hostel, slap bang in the centre of the Temple Bar area of the city. This cost us €65 (around £53) for two nights, for two people, in an 11 bed dorm room. Certainly not the cheapest, but with its location and free breakfast we were sold.
From the moment we arrived I knew this trip was going to be epic – as I gave my name at reception, we were informed that we had been upgraded, for free, to a 4 bed dorm room! Cheers, Barnacles!
The room had an ensuite shower and toilet too! The only issues we experienced with the hostel was how cold the room was when we got in at night, and that the wifi did not reach our room. There was a great common room on the floor below, however, that had decent wifi reception.
We left Leicester at 5am, and were in Dublin central by 10am. We dumped our bags at the hostel and headed out, with our hop-on, hop-off bus ticket in hand. This was €24 for two days of the bus (including live audio commentary from each bus driver), and included our airport transfer too.
The first place we headed to was Kilmainham Gaol, after reading that it is best to get there early. That was good advice to follow – we got into a queue at the front of the gaol, and were told the next tour we could buy a ticket for was not for another hour and half! We decided that while we were there, we might aswell wait, and after the whirlwind of taxis, planes, bus transfers and navigating Dublin for the first time, we could do with a little break for a cup of tea. Student tickets to Kilmainham are only €2, led by an enthusiastic and very knowledgable guide (Ruaidrí), and lasting around an hour. Highly recommended.
Next, we were heading off to the Old Jameson Distillery, somewhere I was particularly looking forward to visiting having toured the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee too (I’m beginning to think of myself as somewhat of a whiskey connoisseur!). This tour cost €10.60 with student ID, and again we had to wait a while for our allocated tour time. The tour itself was somewhat disappointing, mainly due to the factory no longer being in use, so everything was displays and fake machinery. I could also compare the experience to the Jack Daniels tour (which I must write about at some point!), which was far more interesting and informative. However at Jameson, unlike JD, we were given a free drink at the end. This could either be straight whiskey, or a blend of Jameson and ginger ale, and it was damn good. They also run a whiskey tasting experience for a lucky, chosen few at the end of each tour. On our tour of around 40 people, eight were selected to take part – and I was one!
We were given half shot portions of Jameson, a scotch and an American whiskey (which turned out to be Jack Daniels), informed how to taste them ‘properly’, and then watched by 32 other people as we sipped them down. This was an excellent experience, and we got a ‘Qualified Irish Whiskey Taster’ certificate at the end.
By the time we’d finished at the Jameson Distillery, we just about had time to grab a shower, get changed and head out for the pub crawl we’d signed up for…to come in the next post!