After slugging my bags back to Dublin Airport and greeting my mom and sister, we hopped in a cab to where we were staying in Dublin, a guesthouse above O’Neill’s Pub. It was clear that they both didn’t have the greatest in flight sleep, but naturally I dragged them out as soon as our bags hit the floor of our room.
I’m what one would call a die hard New Yorker. I was born and raised there and while I have about 80 countries to go on my travel wish list, I’ve always said that I refuse to live permanently anywhere else. Until I spent my first day in Dublin, that is. There’s something about Dublin, and I came to find this applies to a majority of places I visited in Ireland, that the minute you arrive, you feel home.
We had a couple of iconic Dublin attractions on our sightseeing list, all in a similar area, which included the Dublin Famine Memorial and the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship. Both attractions go hand in hand and add to the history lesson that is the Irish Potato Famine; and if you have any Irish roots this will be an especially interesting and also somber experience. The faces of the statues that make up the Famine Memorial are completely haunting, but also seem to say, due to their upward and forward glance and thin arms filled with some belongings, “We don’t know where to go, but we can’t stay here.”
The Jeanie Johnston is also a huge history lesson in itself, should you choose to enjoy one of the great guided tours through the inside as opposed to just snapping a photo. Using wax figures to depict scenes in quarters that remain largely unchanged, it almost feels as if you took a step back into time. Despite the fact that the ship was designed to help the Irish escape from their terrible situation, the Jeanie Johnston is not only known for making 16 voyages, carrying 2,500 emigrants safely to the New World, but was also known for not losing a single life. As far as coffin ships go, a nickname used for these ships due to the significant loss of life, the Jeanie Johnston was not one of them.
But one of the absolute highlights of our trip to Ireland, was an attraction we hadn’t even heard of planned to see, but stumbled upon. EPIC Ireland is an interactive visitor experience and if you ever make it to Dublin, especially if you have even some Irish roots make sure to add this as an attraction to your list.
After entering you receive a mock “passport” which you get stamped while exiting each segment of the experience. FYI, make sure you give yourself time as you can easily spend two or more hours here. Segments include areas such as “Leaving Ireland” where you get to watch dramatized footage of different people talking about where in Ireland they came from and where in the states they went, all the way to Irish Music and how it influenced us here in America, which includes headsets to listen to various music by Irish bands or artists with Irish roots, and a follow-along step-by-step Irish Step lesson drawn on the floor. Overall, just an amazing way to learn about all the Irish culture present back home. But you’ll also feel a much closer connection to ancestors you may not have even known.
After a bit more sightseeing around Dublin City Centre we headed back to our guesthouse which, remember, is also a bar but also serves some of the most delicious food. Not a bad trio, plus if you have too much Guinness nothing is better than only having to trek it up one flight of stairs. And, as only right, that’s exactly how we ended our night.
Read about the rest of our Ireland Adventure:
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