This summer I made a trip that I had been dreaming on for a while: Ireland and Scotland. I don’t know exactly when my obsession for these two countries began, but it was kinda of a dream come true. I wish I could have spend more time outside Dublin, but time was restraining and the scenic road trip was planed to in Scotland. Nevertheless, Dublin surprised me in a very good way.
First day we arrived we went straight to The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland (or at least that is what they say). But, you know, the problem with these kind of the-oldest-in type of restaurants, they are really touristy and sometimes is very hard to get a table; also, sometimes is more about the place than the quality of the food itself. But The Brazen Head, in spite of its touristy label, was a great Irish pub. I ordered a pint (by the way, I love that every time you ask for a beer is implied that you want a pint) of the very classical Red Ale Smithwick’s. I also ordered a Beef and Guinness Stew (so cliche!) and the classical Lamb Irish Stew. I must say, the lamb stew was perfect, nothing sophisticated or fancy, but instead gave you a warm home-made feeling. In fact, the whole place gives you this warm, hygge (in the Irish way) vibe. A top for The Brazen Head: was not expensive! A tip: Portions are huge! consider sharing your plate with someone else.
Dublin is divided by the Liffey river. Then, is South Dublin and North Dublin. The Temple Bar zone is located in Southside, as well as Grafton Street, The Liberties Neighbourhood, St. Patricks Cathedral and Trinity College. The Northside, however, include very important historical places related to the Easter Rising (aka Easter Rebellion). This rebellion took place in 1916, and it was intended to end the British rule and establish an Independent Irish Republic. It also took place during the First World War, because Irish People didn’t fully agree with the war. They never felt like it was their war, for them was just about British interest. So, after months of careful planing, a bunch of rebels marched until the General Post Office, located in the O’Connell Street, and the took the building. The Rebellion was an incredible failure, in the short term. It lasted 6 days until the Irish rebels surrounded to the British Army, and they were later executed. At the end, was a short term fail, but a long term victory since this insurrection serve as inspiration for others to keep pursuing their independence. They finally did it tho, and the Independent Republic of Ireland was proclaimed on 18 April 1949.
And, after this huge historical break, what I wanted to express here is that: is a bittersweet feeling to walk in the Northside Dublin! There is a huge difference between the South and the North; in the South everything is clean, stores and pubs seem well preserved and the ambiance in general feel more safe. But in the North, there is garbage in the streets, buildings are dirty, stores are trashy. I was expecting to walk in the heart of The Rebellion, and see all these historical places as monuments!.. or as museums!, cause at the end, The Easter Rising truly influenced Ireland independence. But this was not the case, at all; not even the General Post Office was well preserve… and it had some trashy stores aside. Was a huge disappointment for me 😦 .
Leaving behind the Northside, I also went to the Guinness Storehouse, also targeted as a tourist trap. I’m not gonna lie, it is a touristy trap, but is a nice one if you like beer. The Guinness Storehouse is not a tour through the facilities to look how they brew their delicious beer, but is more like a museum that walks you through the process of making the beer. I was already familiar with the beer-making process but I felt curious to go… and one thing I learned that surprised me was that, since 1959 Guinness changed their recipe and introduced nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide. Nitrogen bubbles are much more smaller than carbon dioxide, and that is why the foam of the beer has this smooth, creamy texture.
After the Guinness experience, and after a pint of Guinness ( ❤ ), we had lunch at Arthur’s Pub, which again, surprised me. Food had a good quality-price balance (tho a bit fatty but in general all food in Dublin was fatty). Here, I ordered a Shepherd’s pie. Dishes were again huge! so I would also suggest to share dishes if you go here.
But, one of the biggest exports from Ireland to the world is of course…. the Irish Pub. Ireland is famous for their Pubs with live music and tons of beer (they also have serious alcoholism problems), but you can definitely see this in the streets of Dublin. The Porterhouse is an Irish Pub that was highly recommended by some friends. I honestly think is one of the best places I ever been for a beer. The whole place is huge! it has four floors, it has a small stage where every day of the week there is live music (and good live music I mean!) and they brew their own beers, which are really delicious (yes I taste them all!). The Porterhouse has two very famous stouts: Oyster and Plain, but Plain has been awarded continually as the “best stout in the world”. There is also another very good beer here, the Nitro Red, which is a typical Irish red ale. And by the way, I did taste them all because I ordered a sampler, don’t worry mom!
And, lastly, I did went to the typical Temple Bar Pub, in a corner.. with the mythical with the red wooden front. We were aware that this place was overpriced and touristy, but to be honest, a pint of beer costed exactly the same as in any other pub (well, maybe a few cents more). The bar was really crowded, but it was not annoying at all… and the music was also great! In this bar I ordered a Beamish (stout) and a Guiness Dublin Amber Pale Ale. This last one was actually a surprise, because is only brewed for Irish pubs.
In the The Temple bar zone there is also a famous hotel, The Clarence. This hotel is owned by one of the U2 members, Bono, and the legend tells that he used to play right in front of the building and that’s why he bought it. Sounds romantic… but unlikely to be exactly true. I don’t really like U2, and people in Dublin seem to dislike Bono… but you know what they say, is hard to be a prophet in your own land.
Something I dislike about the city (because nothing can ever bee perfect, just Edinburgh, that city is perfect but Ill get to that later) was the urban road system. Cycling in Dublin can be a extreme sport for sure! Cars are not exactly respectful with the pedestrian, cycle roads are not clearly indicated… and this makes it really dangerous. For pedestrians, traffic lights last an eternity in red, and one second in green! is crazy because it takes you a lot time to get to some places just because you have to wait and wait and wait for the green light.
But well, just some minor details. Overall, this city was a very pleasant surprise. Is a MUST city for beer lovers! The city is so vibrant, people is genuinely nice and kind, is not too crowded, there is good music everywhere! What else do you need?
PD: don’t forget to also try whiskey!