Céad mile fáilte is Gaelic for “a hundred thousand welcomes.”
I felt nothing if not welcomed by Ireland from the moment my plane hit the runway. While I was expecting to be in English speaking country for the first time in months, I was happily surprised to find that the Gaelic language thrives alongside English. The country’s heritage is deeply woven into daily life in modern Dublin. The Irish lilt sounded pleasantly strange to my ears and provided a continuous melody for the city. Curses and cheers are tossed around with equal enthusiasm and the people are friendly beyond belief. Dublin is a gritty town with a rich history and filled with feisty people.
I arrived late in the evening with just enough time to grab a pint in a trendy yet perfectly unkempt pub and accidentally stumble upon the most delicious late takeaway of my life. Food, being the priority it is, was the first thing on my mind the next morning and at the recommendation of a local I headed to The Fumbally for what I was hoping would be a proper Irish breakfast. And that’s exactly what I got with the perfect twist. With only locally and organically sourced ingredients, the food is simple, fresh and healthy and I have reoccurring dreams of those fluffy eggs.
At this point of my 10 day escapade around Europe, I officially ran out of international data and wifi is hit or miss depending on which country you’re in. Dublin, however, has decided to be coolest city on the planet and offers free wifi spots across town. Which means I was snapping photos of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral while simultaneously mapping out directions to St. James Gate. I was surprised (in that I was used to walking in and taking a quick, free peek) to find entrance fees at most of Dublin’s cathedrals and so I relegated myself to simply appreciating their exteriors.
Next up was the Guinness Storehouse which I’d eagerly been looking forward to since my first taste of Ireland’s famous stout. And it just so happens that admission conveniently includes a pint. The best part was I even got to learn how to pour a proper pint for myself. If the whole historian/professor thing doesn’t work out I might have found my second calling. I tend to be wary of overtly touristy places but I will always think fondly of my afternoon at the brewery whenever I’m sipping on Guinness.
I could easily write an entire post on my topnotch meals in Dublin. The Bank on College Green was recommended to me for real pub food. I’m not the first to say it but always, always listen to the locals. Like my breakfast earlier that day, I found that traditional doesn’t always come packaged as expected. Turns out at one time the ornate Victorian building played host to the National Bank of Ireland. I don’t think there are many places where you chow down on amazing food in a pub decorated with such grandeur. I have no shame in saying that plate was shiny white when I was finished with it.
I spent the rest of my day wandering the city, walking along old paved streets and past a continuous rainbow of colored doors. Hidden throughout Dublin I found tributes to famous Irish literary figures from poets to playwrights. Print might be a dying medium around the world but books and their authors are cherished in Dublin in a way that can warm the soul of any bibliophile. It was then I was reminded of something James Joyce wrote in Dubliners a century ago:
“But real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad.”
His quote seemed appropriate while I was drifting through Dublin and even more so now as I write about my own time abroad surrounded by the familiar settings of my home.