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Dublin & the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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Article author: michael
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This is the 1st part in my Ireland 2019 series.

You can view my overview page with links for all the cities I stopped at.


Dublin was of course an obvious choice for my trip to Ireland. I mean, is a trip to Ireland really a trip to Ireland without a stop in Dublin?

And since Dublin airport handles a lot of the flights through and throughout Ireland, it made sense to make it my “home base”, and make my round-trip ticket there.

Day 1 - May 21st:

I arrived in Dublin on May 21st at around 10:40am.
The flight from Montreal to Dublin isn’t particularly long, but because of the time difference and connecting flight I had to take, I basically landed in Dublin on zero sleep, and had a whole day ahead of me!

Thankfully, while planning my trip, I pre-booked a few things, including a round-trip bus ticket on the DoDublin Airlink Express, which took me within a few steps of my guesthouse. It only set me back €11, and saved me from having to figure things out after arriving.

Note: If you book a bus ticket with DoDublin, they have a few different routes/options available, so make sure you choose one that passes near your hotel/hostel/guesthouse.

Harvey’s Guesthouse

While travelling, I wanted to have the hostel “experience”, but I’m not really a sharing-my-space kinda guy, and prefer a separate space to unwind and sleep. So when searching for bookings, I was looking for places with private rooms and en-suite bathrooms.

In Dublin, that ended up being Harveys Guesthouse, which of course is a guesthouse, not a hostel.

Harveys Guesthouse

As I was travelling on a budget, I opted for one of the cheaper rooms with no included breakfast. Aesthetically it wasn’t anything special, and the room I got was all the way at the top - several flights of stairs up, but it was quiet and had what I needed.

My room

While I realized in retrospect that it was probably further from Temple Bar than I initially would have liked, it was a really pleasant guesthouse with a really welcoming host. If you’re like me and enjoy being able to sleep in a nice quiet environment, Harveys should fit the bill quite nicely.

I mentioned it was probably further from Temple Bar than I’d have liked, as it’s probably about a 20-30 minute walk from Harveys to Temple Bar, but it turns out the tours I had booked all left from about a 5-10 minute walk from Harveys. So, not that big a deal after all.

Free Walking Tour of Dublin

After checking-in to my room and setting my stuff down, I took a quick 15 minute rest as I felt like I was about to pass out from the lack of sleep, and then quickly started my 26 minute walk to Barnardo Square, next to the Town Hall. That’s where the free walking tour of Dublin I booked was starting from.

Once everyone was at the meeting point, our guide Adam started the tour and we headed off to the Dublin Castle Courtyard.

Dublin Castle Courtyard

From there we walked through to the Chapel Royal, which unfortunately was under some repair work at the time.

Chapel Royal

We next walked passed Christ Church Cathedral, which is an absolutely stunning piece of architecture, but that I wasn’t able to get any decent shots of thanks to my single-lens non-wide-angle mobile phone camera.

Christ Church Cathedral

Next up we headed to Dubh Linn Gardens and Garda Siochana Memorial Garden, where we learnt about their significance.

Dubh Linn Gardens

Garda Siochana Memorial Garden

We then stopped in front of the Chester Beatty Library for a bit before heading through a passage at the corner of Ship Street Little and Ship Street Great to learn about the myths of the spooky side of Dublin!

The original name of the street was Sheep Street, but over time, and with the Dublin accent, Sheep Street became known as Ship Street!

Ship Street Passage

Afterwards we headed to Temple Bar, where our guide Adam explained to us the reason Temple Bar is so named, and how it has nothing to do with the Pub named “The Temple Bar”.

The Temple Bar in Temple Bar

It is generally thought that the street known as Temple Bar got its name from the Temple family, whose progenitor Sir William Temple built a house and gardens there in the early 1600s.

After walking around Temple Bar (the area, not the pub!), the tour was done. Our guide Adam continued to answer questions about central Dublin, as well as provide us with ideas on where to grab some food and snacks before we all went on our own ways.

Tour Verdict

It was a heck of a fast-paced tour, and the 3 hours just flew by! Adam was absolutely hilarious and fantastically loaded with all sorts of interesting info about Dublin, and I honestly don’t think I could have had a better guide.

All in all, I’d absolutely recommend booking a free walking tour as one of your first stops in Dublin or any city in any country that offers them. It’s a great way to get an initial feel for the city, and the guides are motivated to give a great experience as your donation at the end is how they get paid.

The Counter Burgers

After the tour ended, I was hungry and was craving a burger, so I headed over to thecounter.com on Adam’s suggestion.

One thing I didn’t previously know, coming from Montreal where some restaurants allow you to specify the doneness of your burger, is that in Ireland all burgers must be cooked well done. I generally like my burgers medium or medium rare, so I was a bit surprised to this find out. In any case, I went for the “Build Your Own Burger” option, and it was indeed quite tasty, and really hit the spot!

My custom burger

Ice Cream Time!

After my meal, and being in Ireland, I had no choice to but to grab some ice cream at Murphy’s Ice Cream!

Murphy's Ice Cream

I had a few samples first to decide which flavour to go with, but in the end went for a mix of two: Irish Brown Bread and Dingle Sea Salt.
I generally prefer soft-serve over scooped ice cream, but man oh man was it ever delicious! I’d say the flavours were subtle, but it was super creamy and luxurious, and definitely didn’t disappoint. If you’re visiting Ireland, I can’t recommend trying Murphy’s ice cream enough!

Walking Around Temple Bar to Complete the Day

Knowing how tired I’d be on day 1, I purposely didn’t plan anything specific to do to end the day. So since I was already in Temple Bar, I figured I’d just walk around a bit to get a feel for the area, as well as pick up some sandwiches at the Tesco’s on Fleet street for the all-day tour I had the following day.

Temple Bar Entrance

Temple Bar Streets

Quays Bar

Day 2 - May 22nd

Cliffs of Moher Tour

Day 2 saw me up bright and early for a 13 hour Cliffs of Moher tour I had pre-booked while still back home.

As I noted earlier in the post, I was thankfully quite close to the bus tour’s starting point, which was on Parnell Square North, right in front of the Abbey Presbyterian Church. I was actually running behind schedule and barely made it on time … I was the last one to board with just a minute or two before I’d have missed the bus. Yeesh!

It was a 3 hour ride before we hit our first stop, Kilmacduagh Monastery, in County Galway. During that time, our guide came to life to keep us all entertained and get to know us a bit.

He pointed out some of the sights in and out of Dublin we may or may not have already had a chance to see along the route, and we also got a chance to see first hand how skilled Irish drivers are! Turns out a lot of roads in Ireland are freakin narrow, and therefore skill is required when passing other vehicles, as can be seen here:

It’s a little hard to make out in the video, but the two buses were literally, not figuratively, less than half an inch apart from the side-view mirror of the other bus to the edge of ours. It was pretty unreal, and I was so sure there’d be some damage. But nope, I was wrong! Haha

Kilmacduagh Abbey & Monastery

After a bit of a decent stretch of road and some joking around, we arrived at Kilmacduagh abbey, or rather the ruins of, and had some time to explore them and the area around it.

Kilmacduagh Abbey & Cemetary

Kilmacduagh subsidiary church

Founded in the 7th century, and then expanded later on, it’s pretty amazing how much of the ruins are left after all this time.

Kilmacduagh Abbey

I won’t go into details about the abbey, but if you’re interested in more details about these gorgeous ruins, Monastic Ireland has some great info.

Cliffs of Moher

Back on the bus, and another ~1 hour later, we reached our main stop and one of the absolute highlights of my trip to Ireland - the cliffs! The weather was holding out quite well for us, despite some cloudiness from time to time.

The cliffs were formed over 320 million years ago, and stretch for almost 14 kilometers! So it’s a decent hike that takes probably at least 2 hours if you’re walking at a slower pace.

Cliffs of Moher

I can’t quite remember what I knew about the cliffs before coming to Ireland, but I certainly didn’t realize that the cliffs have two sides.

If you’re there on your own, not as part of a paid tour, you’ll have the time to hike across both sides, which I absolutely recommend. As I was there as part of a paid tour however, I was limited to only 1 hour and a half.

Myself and a couple of the guys I met on the tour immediately headed out towards the north side, which is about an 8 km hike to the tip, where the cliffs rise to a max of 214 meters high.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

I think what was most surprising to me is how close you can get to the edge, as there’s nothing to stop you from falling over!

Cliffs of Moher

I veered out here and there, getting close-ish, but still far enough away from the edge to stay safe - it would be all too easy to slip on the dirt at the edge and fall down 200-ish meters! As can be seen in the pics above however, there is a spot where the cliff is all rock, where you can get really close to the edge to get some crazy views down! My heart was definitely pumping fast when I walked (well, crawled more like it) close to the edge on that section to get some pics.

We weren’t sure how long we’d have to make it back, and wether or not we’d have time to hike the south side, so we rushed back but only had time to take a few steps towards the north before we had to get back to the tour bus.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

As luck would have it, it actually started to rain a bit while we waited for our bus, so thankfully we got our hiking done with mostly clear skies.

The Cliffs of Moher were absolutely one of the highlights of my Ireland trip, and I hope to return one of these days. It’s one of the places you have to visit if you’re coming to Ireland, it’s beauty not to be missed.

Burren Walk

I was sad to leave the cliffs so soon, but on to the next spot we must go!
The next stop was Burren walk, which was almost slightly reminiscent of the cliffs, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Burren Walk

We only had a quick 15-minute photo-opp stop here though, not really enough time to hike and fully appreciate the Walk. Turns out, there’s quite a bit of hiking you can do at Burren Walk, much more than I realized when I was on the tour. Mind you, after the amazing time I had at the cliffs, I didn’t mind much that our stop here was a short one.

Burren Walk

Burren Walk

Galway for a quick pint or two

After Burren, we hopped back on the bus and headed to Galway.


Galway has quite a history, as can be seen on the Galway Tourism site, and was a trading port before becoming more of a tourist destination.

We only had 1 hour to spend in Galway, which isn’t enough to explore the area in depth, but it gave us a bit of time to explore downtown Galway and stop for a pint or two, which was nice.

Stopping for a Pint

After that, it was time to head back to Dublin. We had a 2.5 hour trip back from Galway to Dublin, towards the end of which it started pouring like crazy! Looks like the weather was really on our side for the tour that day. Lucky us!

Tour Verdict

I absolutely loved the tour, and would recommend it to anyone visiting Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are a must-see, and the tour was a great way to see them, as well as a few other spots along the way.

F.X. Buckley Steakhouse

Back in Dublin, I met up with Nick, a new buddy I had just met at the airport in Montreal before coming to Ireland. He’s Canadian too and was travelling at the same time, but he started his Ireland trip in Cork instead of Dublin.

I met up with him at the Temple Bar pub, where his uncle had surprised him by flying in from the UK. I was pretty hungry and wanted to grab some food, but Nick’s uncle, apparently a bottomless pit when it comes to beer, wasn’t having any of it. Apparently, I needed to get a few pints in me first!

So we found another pub, where the drinking continued, and Nick’s uncle chatted up all the ladies … old and young! Quite the party animal, and apparently not much of an appetite for anything but beer. 😂

Nick and I decided we needed to get some non-liquid calories in, so after a few pints we headed off and left Nick’s uncle to hold down the pub for us. We walked around a few streets, but Nick had spotted a steakhouse earlier in the day he wanted to check out. After walking for a bit we found it - F.X. Buckley, and damn, the prices weren’t cheap.

FX Buckley

I was thinking more like cheap burgers or something, as I had to make my money stretch, but Nick was really keen, so I said screw it and we went inside.

I decided on the Foie Gras with apricot chutney and toasted brioche starter, and a sirloin steak cooked medium-rare. Nick had never had foie gras before, but decided to give it a try, and had a filet minion for his steak. we paired that with a nice red wine, although I hate to say I can’t remember which one! I had asked the Sommelier to suggest one for us, as he would certainly know best, and the one he suggested paired perfectly with the foie gras and steak.

Foie Gras

The foie gras was … abso-friggin-lutely outstanding! So delicious and creamy, and with the apricot chutney and toasted brioche was just divine. Nick also seemed to have discovered his love for foie gras that night!

After that, our steaks came.

Sirloin - Medium-rare

Apologies for the terrible picture … my camera was shyte for low-light shots, but I assure you, the steak was worth every penny.

How do you describe perfection? Because these steaks were melt-in-your-mouth, juicy, full of flavour, just all around perfect steaks. I promise I’m not paid by F.X. Buckley for this, the steaks were just that good! If you’re a steak lover and in Dublin, I urge you to give them a try.

To this day, we both swear these were/are the best steaks we’ve ever eaten, and we both agree we made the right choice splurging on them!

After dinner, we headed back to the pub where we left Nick’s uncle and to no one’s surprise he was dancing with a bunch of women, and still drinking. Of course, the minute he saw us come in he had the bartender put up a few more pints for us! After a couple of pints I’d had my fill, and the pub was kicking us out as it was somewhere past 1:00am. I decided that was my cue and left Nick and his uncle so I could make the ~30 minute walk back to my guesthouse and get some sleep.

Join me for Part 2 of the Dublin series, where I explore more of Dublin, and go on the Giant’s Causeway Tour!

Until next time,
michael 😀

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