By Tom Lally
In my last article I wrote about my visits to Galway, Derry, and some of the other places we visited in Ireland. This time I’m going to share a little bit about Dublin, the last stop of the week. In college I spent a semester abroad there, in the fall of 2010. I can still remember leaving after my semester was over, reflecting back on what a great experience I had, and thinking that I would surely be back soon. But almost seven years passed before that actually happened, so our last few days – which we would spend in Dublin – were for me the most anticipated part of the trip.
My experience abroad was a little unique in that I didn’t study at a local university, instead I had a full-time internship. That internship was at the Oireachtas, the national legislature or parliament of Ireland. It took a little time to get used to seeing the Irish language. Although everyone speaks and most business is conducted in English, all official government documents are produced in both languages. Many significant terms, like Oireachtas and Taoiseach (prime minister) are taken from the Irish.
Friday started in Derry, where we had been for the last few nights, which we left first thing in the morning. We made a quick stop in Belfast, just long enough to visit the Titanic Museum and some of the “peace walls” built to separate historically Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. Then it was on to Dublin, just a few hours’ drive away, which put our arrival late Friday afternoon. Our hotel was in a great location, really close to the city center, which is fairly compact and walkable. The first thing I did was just walk around there, strolling along so many familiar streets and sights, with no particular destination in mind.
I had made plans to meet up that night with Simon. We worked together during my internship and have kept sporadically in touch ever since. He was having drinks with some friends, in a bar just off Grafton Street (one of the main retail areas), and graciously invited me to join them. And it was there – sitting in that pub with my Smithwicks, surrounded by regular Irish people – that for the first time on this trip I felt like I truly stepped outside of the tourist zone. I really enjoying catching up with him, meeting some of his friends, and being peppered with questions from them about all things American.
Saturday was spent hitting many of the major attractions: Guinness (a bit overdone but the top floor bar has spectacular views), Jameson (where Jameson and ginger ale became my new favorite mixed drink), Dublin Castle (much nicer on the inside, and underneath, than it looks from the outside), Christ Church Cathedral, and Temple Bar.
On Sunday, the group was going to visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells before leaving around noon for the airport and our flight back to Boston. But my father and I decided to get up a little earlier than we otherwise had to, so that I could show him around my old haunts, which aren’t far from Trinity. We saw Leinster House (where the Oireachtas meets) and my office building next door, as well as the government buildings on the next block. And we went by two of the main parks, St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square, the latter of which is home to many of the quintessential brightly colored doors that are so associated with Dublin.
The entire trip was fantastic, and I can’t think of a better end to it than Dublin, where I made my long-awaited return to the city I once called home.
The author of this article is Tom Lally, Wealth Manager Assistant at US Wealth Management.