Last year, Taylor and I spent New Year’s Day in our Nation’s Capital. We enjoyed the trappings of Washington D.C. and cherished the time spent with friends. Our 2018 New Year’s trip was much the same. Cork County and the capital city, Dublin, hosted a week full of old friends, new friends, and wonderful experiences.
We reached Dublin city on the morning of December 30th and paid for an Aircoach bus to Cork City. Taylor’s sorority sister and her boyfriend were waiting to take us to our Airbnb in Ballincollig. Once our bags were put away, we headed for a bite to eat at The White Horse Restaurant. A fine Irish meal of Bangers and Mash and Fish n’ Chips prepared us for a night out at Tradehouse Central Bar and Kitchen. After a night of dancing to our favorite American music, "Taco Fries" from Drumbstix satisfied our late night appetites before the ride home to get some sleep.
New Year’s Eve began with Taylor and I moving our luggage to Allie and Rob’s apartment. Allie and Rob were more gracious hosts than we could have ever expected. A delicious breakfast prepared us for a drive out to the fishing village Kinsale to see some of Ireland’s famous cliffs and wander around the fishing town. Night began to fall as we drove back to Ballincollig to prepare for the New Year.
Our first destination in Cork City was The Courtyard on Sober Lane to join Rob’s family for a celebration of his brother’s engagement. After meeting a score of brilliant people, we walked the streets of Cork City to An Spailpin Fanach, where the four of us greeted the New Year with local music and boisterous laughs.
The damp New Year’s Day found Taylor and I exploring the Blarney Castle. After a couple of hours of wandering the beautiful grounds, we returned to Ballincollig to prepare for another night out. We were invited to a celebration at the Ballincollig Gaelic Athletic Association and it would prove to be one of the most enjoyable parts of our visit. The night ended with great burgers and fries at Lennox’s .
The second day of January would see us discover several Cork county jewels. The Drombeg Stone Circle is a little further than an hour away from Ballincollig but worth the drive to see the ancient Druid megalith. After a morning in the countryside, we drove back to Cork City. The fabled English Market was our first stop in Cork where we found shelter from the rain and marveled at spreads of vibrant veggies and choice cuts of meat. The recommended restaurant upstairs from the market was closed, but we were taken to O’Flynn’s Gourmet Sausages for a phenomenal Irish sausage dog once the rain had eased.
Our next and last stop in Cork city was the Blackrock Castle to see the planetarium and tour the old gunnery. Rob’s parents were kind enough to have us all for an exquisite dinner before we took advantage of the opportunity to rest up for Dublin.
After spending a few days in County Cork, Taylor and I took the train from Cork City to Heuston Station in Dublin. After walking our luggage to the Airbnb before venturing to the Christ Church Cathedral near the River Liffey. Visitors were required to pay for tours, so we walked the grounds and stood in amazement of the incredible architecture.
Wonder soon again filled us at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral where we learned about the underground River Podle that feeds the fountain in St. Patrick’s Park. We discovered a toll to enter the church and decided to walk to The Guinness Storehouse to meet a friend.
We caught up with one another and enjoyed the rich taste of Guinness before moving our conversation to The Stag’s Head. Soon after, we were invited to join in on a bus ride to Celbridge for a more quiet atmosphere. The Village Inn was the pub of choice, and Thai food from Delhi Darbar complemented stimulating political discussion. A taxi couldn’t be hailed quickly in Celbridge at two in the morning, but the wait was well worth the time spent in Celbridge.
The next day in Dublin was filled to the brim with planned events and a few stumble-upons. To start the day, Taylor and I wandered the halls of Dublin Castle. After the tour, we worked up a fierce appetite that was soon quelled by an unbelievable breakfast from Hatch and Son’s.
Our ravings over breakfast were soon replaced with quiet enjoyment of a perfect walkabout of St. Stephen’s Green. A stroll down Grafton Street on our way to the splendid Trinity College was filled with window shopping and music from a few street performers.
We marveled during our tour of the Book of Kells exhibit and wandered up and down the immense Long Room library before pondering the remainder of our night. The first move was toward Merrion Square to see the relaxed statue of Oscar Wilde before the gates of the park closed
Nearby we found the sprawling exhibits of the Natural History Museum and National Gallery of Ireland. A touch of hunger reminded us of the time, so we decided to find our taxi driver’s recommendation from the night before. Trocadero is a fine dining restaurant that Taylor and I weren’t exactly dressed for, but the three course meal fueled the remainder of our last night in Dublin.
A short walk to The Temple Bar involved crowds and relatively expensive pints, so we took a longer walk to O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub. Surrounded by frames from the past, Taylor and I enjoyed the local scene and music at O’Donoghue’s until it was time to rest up before our early morning flights back to the States.
Both Cork and Dublin County proved to be welcoming sites of intrigue, history, and beauty. Taylor and I never failed to be astounded by the offerings of Ireland and the kindness of her people. I speak for both of us when I say that we are already looking forward to our next visit to the Emerald Isle.