In the last post we left off in Clifden, now it’s time to go clear across the country back to Dublin!
After another hearty buffet breakfast, we checked out of Abbeyglen and headed east. I want to see a ghost at some point before I die, and Ireland seems like your odds would be pretty good. So I managed to convince Jeff to let us stop about halfway between Clifden and Dunboyne in a place called Aughrim.
The Battle of Aughrim was the deciding battle of the Williamite War in Ireland, and it was one of the bloodiest ever fought on Irish soil (a.k.a. it’s known for being one of the most haunted sites in Ireland.)
Travel Tip: The Battle of Aughrim Interpretive Center isn’t open year-round and is cash-only. It was closed when we went, so we didn’t get to see the artifacts and displays inside.
Over the centuries, the village of Aughrim has grown around the battlefield, so there’s not one central point to visit. There are numbered plaques around town indicating various specific sites. It was raining again and we weren’t wearing our hiking boots, so we didn’t walk around long. We drove around a bit and then got back on the road to Dunboyne. No ghost sightings–phooey!
Dunboyne is a suburb northwest of Dublin, and Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa is definitely the most modern castle hotel we stayed in. None of the guest rooms are in the old part of the building. I’m not sure if it’s offices, event spaces, or what.
Once we checked in, we were starving, so we walked to a nearby restaurant to pick up some dinner. Once we got back to the hotel, we started looking into Aer Lingus’ cancellation policy because we really didn’t want to fly to Donegal. We had already driven a comparable difference from Clifden to Dunboyne with no issue. Our travel agent was technically correct that the flight itself isn’t refundable, but the taxes and fees are, and that’s the bigger portion of the total ticket cost. We tried cancelling the flight ourselves, but since she booked it, she had to do it. For future trips, we’re probably going to book our own local transportation so that we have ultimate flexibility and control.
After a tasty buffet breakfast, we walked to the train station that was about a mile away and caught a train to Connolly Station in Dublin. True confession: most of the day when we were walking around the city I was singing “One Short Day” from Wicked in my head. (“One short day in the Emerald City…”)
First we walked over to Dublin Castle. We didn’t feel like paying the admission price, so we didn’t go in, but we certainly admired the architecture.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Then we walked to the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was absolutely worth the admission price. The architecture, the history, the stained glass…we were nerding out so hard. If you ever get a chance to go, absolutely do it!
Jameson & Guinness
I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, and I hate beer, but Jeff loves both of these things, so we made the necessary stops. 🙂 We walked over to the Jameson Distillery on Bow St. The tour didn’t interest us enough to spend the time or money, so we just stopped in the gift shop for Jeff to buy a special bottle only available at the distillery and then left.
On our walk to the Guinness Storehouse, we learned from a local that the north side of the river where Jameson is located is the dodgier side of town and is best avoided. When we got to Guinness, we learned that you can’t even go into the gift shop or any of the restaurants without buying an admission ticket (as much as €25 per adult).
Travel Tip: The price of admission varies by time slot, so check ahead of time. If you book a slot and show up late, you have to pay the difference if the next slot has a more expensive price. However, if the next slot is cheaper than what you paid, you don’t get refunded the difference. The walk-up rate is €25 per adult, regardless of what time it is, so that’s up to you to decide.
We hadn’t planned on buying a ticket and taking the tour until we found out you couldn’t even go in the building without paying for admission. Since I don’t even like beer, we debated on whether it was really worth it, but in the end we sucked it up and paid the walk-up rate. Ugh.
Anyway, we learned about the brewing process and got some fresh Guinness beef stew, which was tasty. The Gravity Bar on the top floor has windows all the way around, so you get a gorgeous panoramic view of the Dublin rooftops and the Wicklow Mountains in the distance. We didn’t stay long because it was too crowded to get much of a view.
Before we left, I used the WiFi to finally talk to our travel agent on the phone. She cancelled our flight to Donegal, but she said the refund could be tricky. Sigh. At least we saved ourselves a lot of hassle and baggage fees. Worst case scenario, it’s an expensive lesson learned. Those are hard to forget.
All in all, unless you’re a total die-hard Guinness fan that HAS to make the pilgrimage to the Storehouse before you die, skip it and go buy yourself a few rounds at a local pub with the money you would have spent on admission.
Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest surviving university, established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. It’s been on our bucket list ever since we saw the Long Room its Old Library on a Buzzfeed list of 19 libraries you have to see before you die (or something like that.) You get to learn about and see the Book of Kells, and then you get to see the Long Room in all its glory.
Travel Tip: Buy your tickets online ahead of time. You get to skip the queue, and the adult ticket prices range from €11-€14 each, depending on the time slot. We went at 4pm, one of the cheapest slots, and it still felt kind of crowded.
St. Stephen’s Green
After admiring the architecture of the buildings for a little while, we walked a few blocks to St. Stephen’s Green to rest our feet and do some people watching. In a way, Dublin felt like an older and smaller New York City. You had that city grime and your tourist traps, but it had a certain charm to it. The people weren’t quite as friendly as they were in smaller the country towns and villages–I guess some truths are universal.
Once we mustered up some energy, we walked back to Connolly Station to catch the train back to Dunboyne. On the way to the hotel, we picked up some take-away, and then we were happy to get cleaned up and get some rest.
Up next: County Donegal–we’re over halfway through!
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