If you’re not sick of Ireland posts yet, here’s how I put together outfits from my carry-on suitcase over 9 days (including travel) and everything from tourist sites to hiking to wedding festivities. Buckle your seatbelt, we gotta lotta pictures in this post!
Day one – Dublin
My traveling/wandering-around-Dublin-on-no-sleep outfit, in front of the Táin Mural near Nassau street (hey Queen Maeve!):
To save suitcase room and travel comfortably, I flew and toured the first day in my pj shirt and pj leggings (not shown under my jeans). If you’re wondering, that’s Hope and Will, the mascots of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where I was a chaplain resident.
We ate breakfast at Hatch & Sons, a cozy and charming restaurant that feels like eating at your grandma’s (if she lived in a plastered thatched roof cottage):
Vegetarian Irish breakfast was very reasonable at €5 and eminently tasty. The full version is pictured here:
We wandered around and took silly pictures with the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Park until it was time to check in at our Air BnB. Our host Aoife was absolutely lovely and as a food writer gave us all the downlow on good vegetarian and pescatarian restaurants as well as ideas on things to visit (this is how we found out about the Dublin Flea Market).
That expression on Oscar’s face is priceless.
Then it was time to meet Joe, our host for City of a Thousand Welcomes. This free program is genius: if you are a first-time visitor to Dublin, all you have to do is sign up for a date/time and tell a little bit about yourself, and you are magically whisked off by a native Dubliner for a free pint (or tea/coffee) while they regale you with stories about Irish history and recommendations for Dublin places/events/activities that fit your interests.
I neglected to get a picture of Joe, who charmingly brought us guide materials in a TJ Maxx bag from his last visit to see his sister in California because he thought it would make us feel welcome! But here is the Merrion hotel, where he took us for pints:
Quite fancy, no?
When you’ve done the City of a Thousand Welcomes, admission to the Little Museum, which sponsors the programs, is also free! And you also get 10% off your bill at Hatch (if only we’d known). I’m telling you, this is the best and cheapest way to start off any trip to Dublin.
The tour at the Little Museum was a lively 30 minutes and gave us a great overview of Dublin’s history from the 1916 Rising on. Everything inside was donated by Dubliners, including the current exhibit on U2. Super fascinating!
Room 2 of the tour:Source
We spent the rest of the day wandering the picturesque streets. The signs are all in Irish, then English:
Lots of design shops where all the contents are by Irish designers:
A taste of at least one political view:
Busty Molly Malone and a piper:
Dinner that night was at a vegan restaurant called Sova Vegan Butcher which had some tasty points but also some not-very-well-seasoned bits, and thus felt a bit pricey for the fare. Afterwards we walked down the street to Devitts where people our age or younger were in charge of the traditional music (flutes, concertina, guitars) and no one was shy about dancing. We may have ended up with a tile from the floor of the pub kicked loose by a drunken Irishman who insisted we take it home to America as a souvenir from an “authentic” Irish pub…
In the morning we hit up the Dublin Flea Market (pictures/writeup here) before wandering lots more through the streets and taking care of a few thank-you presents for folks back at home.
After a delicious and affordable falafel lunch at Umi, we popped over to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells (no photos allowed). While that was quite interesting, I think the price of admission was a bit steep. Good thing it included the Long Room right above the Book of Kells:
I wish I could somehow share with you the smell… the whole place was infused with the aroma of old books. Glorious! 200,000 books from the 14th through 18th centuries are stacked in those two-story alcoves. One of the security officials was quite a ham and teased us when we asked when it stopped being an active library and became a museum: “I didn’t get the memo!” Turns out you can still take books out, albeit just into a special reading room.
Oh hey, it’s the harp that became the symbol of Ireland!
And an original printing of the 1916 proclamation declaring Ireland a free country:
Dinner that night was at an Indian restaurant called Pickle, with quite spicy and tasty dishes – I got a veggie mix with asparagus in it, which was fun, and the Spouse went a little more classic with chana masala and puri. A bit expensive; the marquee-sized Bollywood posters were great fun.
Day 3 – Glendalough
We took a day trip down to Glendalough, a valley in the Wicklow Mountains that is home to a 6th century abbey started by St. Kevin (don’t you just love that there is a St. Kevin?) and to numerous walking and hiking trails.
First up, the awkward outfit shot with the spouse cropped out:
I layered my silk long john shirt and my bamboo tech shirt under my rain jacket and my leggings under my jeans. The jeans got a bit muddy but luckily we had laundry facilities at our next accommodations.
Ruins of the cathedral: On the right is the bell/defense tower, where the monks would ring the bells for prayers but also hole up inside if invaders approached.
We made a quick pit stop…
And then got hiking. I thought the little sprinkling of white was some kind of lichen…but no, it’s snow. (It snowed for a few moments while we hiked!)
An abandoned mine is tucked back in that valley:
I expected to see a hobbit pop out at any time.
It was stark and so beautiful, almost tundra-like. We picnicked with bread, cheese, and apples at the top of the boardwalk-style path above and felt on top of the world. Waterfalls little and big were everywhere, and every time we turned a corner there was some new astounding view… Since we took a wrong turn and hiked on a timber road for half the journey, we had the forest all to ourselves for a good while. It was such a different landscape from what I see at home and what I expected from Ireland. This was probably my favorite thing (tied with the Burren) we did all trip.
Day 4 – Galway
That outfit pose where you’re trying to look awake! And excited! This is the navy blue turtleneck under the polkadot vest paired with my cream corduroys and navy Puma sneaks (and yes I’m still wearing leggings underneath):
We ate at Hooked for dinner after our late arrival the night before:
The beach right next to the park commemorating all who sailed away from Ireland via Galway during the height of the Potato Famine:
A local harvesting mollusks of some kind:
A side branch of the River Corrib, and schoolgirls who thought it’d be funny to pose in our tourist photo (it was):
Our AirBnB host Rosemary was a treat, inviting us to share Pancake Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras) with her friends, meeting us out for a pint, and giving us more great restaurant recs including the best meal (in my opinion) we had in Ireland at the Quay Street Kitchen (pr. “Key Street” for all you Americans – or maybe just me? – tempted to say “kway”).
She also explained all the ribbons tied on the Wolfe Tone bridge over the River Corrib – they had just popped up in the last few weeks as a sort of Pont des Arts love locks thing, with people writing messages on over a hundred ribbons flying in the wind:
That copper dome in the middle is Galway Cathedral, which we visited next. Built in the 1960s on the site of the city’s former jail, it was such a beautiful combination of stone and wood, classical architecture and modern stained glass, and light play:
My spouse was totally into Jesus’ rainbow comet trails due to stained glass:
So on the left is Pádraig Pearse, one of the Easter Rising martyrs and an Irish nationalist, and JFK is on the right. Y’know, just chilling, praying to Jesus in an Irish cathedral. (JFK was EVERYWHERE in Ireland. Those people are seriously proud of the first U.S. Irish-American president.)
Father P(eter?) Rabbitte has an office here:
Then more wandering…
…into Irish design shops – this time some lovely jewelry:
…past a random medieval castle turned into a bank:
…and ending with some pretty solid buskers whose music we enjoyed with a cup of delicious hot chocolate and some cappuccino:
Day 5 – Galway
I wore the same clothes as Day 4 so we could wash and air dry stuff that was dirty. No judgment.
This was Ash Wednesday so we started off with an intimate service at St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, where the parishioners were very welcoming and didn’t mind us peering over their shoulders to share prayer books. Then we sat in on part of a tour being given to local students and learned a thing or two about the church’s history and architecture. St. Nicholas is the largest still-functioning parish church (aka non-cathedral) in Ireland and was built by Galway’s powerful merchant families (one of whom, the Lynches, owned the castle above) in the middle ages.
I loved the yellow walls and ceilings which made the inside glow like the daffodils decorating the church:
Like many churches in Ireland, you can see evidence of Cromwell’s soldiers’ destruction of all human-like images, considered by the overzealous Puritans of the 17th century to be idolatrous:
Ironically, the church is now Church of Ireland (meaning Protestant, not Catholic) – so I guess Cromwell got his way?
The Church of Ireland shares space with two Orthodox congregations, who have marked off sacred space with an altar screen featuring lovely icons:
A beautifully ecumenical thumb in the eye of Cromwell, who probably would have hated these as well even though icons aren’t seen as graven images in Eastern churches.
A little thank-you-gift hunting at O’Maille – they have a great online store full of luscious Irish yarn and woven/knit garments. Look at the colors on this Donegal tweed blanket! I die.
And at Wooden Heart, three delightfully narrow stories full of wooden and hands-on toys tucked into a 440-year-old building:
Then lunch at Ard Bia in another ancient edifice:
And off to the (free!) Galway city museum, which featured exhibits on archaeology, the city’s fishing industry, Galwegians in WWI, and the Easter Rising, both historical and in contemporary art. One of the coolest things was this set of interactive maps of the city from various eras, each with blue dots marking famous sights which you could pull up in contemporary images or vintage postcards:
The sword and scepter of Galway given by the English monarch, which William Randolph Hearst just *happened* to own for years and then returned to the city (imagine that guy’s attic):
A hooker, the classic Galwegian fishing vessel (it says “Galway” in Irish):
Somewhere in there we stopped by Gourmet Tart Co. for delicious raspberry & custard tarts:
Wandered some more, noticing fun window displays:
It’s a shoe shop. Go figure.
We stopped for a flight of Irish whiskeys at Tigh Neachtain, and spent an hour gabbing with our AirBnB host who had come there with a book to read. Thus we learned that in Ireland pubs are basically coffee shops.
This was the night we ate at Quay Street Kitchen, just across the street. Afterwards we caught a free singer-songwriter (well, two were bands) showcase at Roisin Dubh (pr. “Ruh-SHEEN Dove”), a famous music club with (of course) a pub attached. Loud but lively!
Day 6- Drive through the Burren to Spanish Point
This outfit is exactly the same as Day 4 (and 5) but with a camel sweater. And yes, I did change underwear. And yes, I did get these cream pants quite dirty by the end of the trip. But they washed clean!
Dunguaire (pr. dhoon-GOO-irra) Castle in Kinvara. Y’know, when there are just random castles on the side of the road…
Next we drove through the Burren, more of which will be pictured below since it was raining this day. We stopped at The Burren Perfumery which makes all of its perfumes/soaps/lotions/etc. from local botanicals through processes that preserve the fragile Burren ecosystem. They also have a free tea room where you can sample their herbal teas (and where we ate our supermarket picnic with soda bread, smoked salmon, local cheese, and apples. Yum!):
Children who had come to the tea room drew charming pictures representing their visit:
Day 7 – Cliffs of Moher and a Wedding in Spanish Point
The weather didn’t mess around Day 7 and neither did I – silk undershirt, tech shirt, and the thickest sweater I’d brought (and had not yet worn) prepared me for a rainy, windy morning at the Cliffs.
Here’s a sneak peek of the weather as we drove through Lahinch, a renowned surfing spot, on our way to the cliffs. Impressively several surfers were out braving the 40 degree temps and the sizable waves:
The cliffs in their misty, 700+ feet glory:
O’Brien’s tower, built for tourists in the 1800s:
We made it back just in time to shower and dress for the wedding. I’m a goober and didn’t take any pics (I was busy officiating, okay?!), but here’s a pic of my outfit in terrible lighting:
I’m making the W for our alma mater.
Here’s the dress in better light, a pic from when I first bought it as a possibility for another wedding:
Day 8 – Lahinch, Hike in the Burren, drive back to Dublin
It was cold enough that this, plus jeans, is all I showed to the world. I wore the same leopard-print sweater underneath. Apologies for disembodied spousal hand:
We returned to Lahinch in better weather on our meandering drive back to Dublin:
Particularly to get my sister a gift from a woman-owned, designed, and printed T-shirt shop:
I took a class on screen printing in highschool and was madly impressed with the intricacy, color, and cleanness of her prints. You can see/order them here.
What a difference a day makes – this is the same beach as before:
Surfing spectators. There was definitely a surfing subculture going on here that I would never have associated with Ireland – which shows you how little I know about surfing, particularly in colder climes!
We stocked up for lunch at a small grocery shop and headed back to the Burren to enjoy a day hike in much better weather than when we first drove through. First though some obstacles in the road:
Below is where our 3-mile walk began. The seemingly barren limestone landscape is called karst and was created in large part due to humans overgrazing livestock in the Stone Age. Ironically this now-tundra-like environment is home to a fragile ecosystem full of rare wildflowers (hence why the Burren Perfumery set up shop there) for which there is a considerable conservation effort. Human influence on the world around us is so complicated…
PS check out that limestone wall:
Karst, worn away by wind and rain, up close:
We walked around a turlough, a kind of seasonal lake that occurs when the karst can’t drain rainwater fast enough:
Overgrown walls (I’m sensing a bovine/wall theme here):
Did I mention we had canine companions herding us for the entire 3 miles? No nipping, just gentle herding whenever I stopped too long to take a picture (which was frequently):
One of the karst hills in stark contrast to neighboring green fields:
A cow we surprised when we had to pull onto the verge to let another car squeak past (driving on narrow-to-the-point-of-one-lane Irish country roads is not for the faint of heart!):
Stream next to Dunguaire, which we passed again on our way back to Galway/the highway:
And that’s the end! We drove three hours back to Dublin, scarfed some Pakistani takeout, and crashed into our final AirBnB before getting up at the crack of dawn to catch our flight back to the States. What a grand adventure!
Gold star if you made it to the end. I hope you enjoyed looking through the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. :)