Day 15 – Dublin (Saturday July 6th)
After two weeks of walking we decided to give our feet a rest and took one of the tour buses around the city to hit some widely spaced sites. It was a good and bad day for the bus tour. The good was the weather – no clouds and low 80s, which would have made for hot city walking. The bad was the bus route – we couldn’t go as far into Phoenix Park as normal because they were setting up for huge Justin Timberlake concert, and the main road - O’Connell St – was closed for a protest march. The Irish do like their protests.
The tour bus driver was entertaining as we made our way across the city, the best of the 4 drivers we heard during the day. Our planned first stop was Kilmainham Gaol, an important site during the Irish War of Independence and more recently an important movie set. The East Wing was similar to other jails around the UK, so is used in place of those other jails in movies. Besides being a place with really fascinating history, it was a great place to photograph.
From there we took the bus to Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed urban park in Europe, and meandered through it back to the edge of town where we found the famous ‘Nancy Hands’ pub for lunch. Just walking through to look at the woodwork in the place would be great. Back on the bus we took an abbreviated tour of the North side of town, thanks to the protest march. We walked around O’Connell Street a little before hopping back on the bus. A bachelor party joined us on upper deck and we thought they were going to be obnoxious, but a few minutes under the blazing sun and they faded! Many pints of Guiness + unusual summer weather = sleepy people.
We took the bus past our morning starting point and got off at St Patrick’s Cathedral. For 2 days in Dublin I kept asking, “Is that St. Patrick’s?” There are a lot of churches in Dublin. We paid to go inside and tour it, being mindful of the signs everywhere warning of pickpockets. Jonathan Swift was the Dean there for 32 years and his tomb is inside. After getting back into the sun, we rested on the grass in St Patrick's Park next door, along with 1/2 of Dublin.
Strolling back to our hotel, we stopped at the Bull & Castle Beerhall & Steakhouse, which has "one of Ireland's widest selection of Irish craft beer" for a pre-dinner pint. It seems that every place we visited was the "oldest" or had some other superlative value, once you put enough qualifiers around it. For our last dinner in Dublin we ended up in an Italian restaurant on the banks of the River Liffey; all the modern Irish places were booked up on a Saturday night.