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Dublin & Giant's Causeway, 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.


This post is a continuation of my time in Dublin. You can click here to view Part 1.

Day 3 - May 23rd

When I’m planing a trip somewhere, I don’t like to cram too much into a short period. It starts to get exhausting, so breaking things up can be really nice. After the long 13 hour tour I had the previous day, I kept day 3 local, and accessible via foot.

Guinness Storehouse

First up was, of course, the Guinness Storehouse. After all, what trip to Dublin would be complete without it?

The storehouse was a bit of a walk from my guesthouse, about 40 minutes, but it seemed like good exercise so I figured why not! Google maps seemed to be giving me some odd directions and I thought it was bringing me to some dodgy area, but eventually it looked like I was indeed on the right track.

Guinness Storehouse Sign

A few more steps and I was finally here!

Guinness Storehouse Door

The Storehouse opened to visitors in 2000, and since then has welcomed over 20 million visitors! I didn’t initially realize the St. James’s Gate location was the original location, assuming it was purpose-built for tourism. That said, it’s original purpose was as a fermentation plant.

The actual tour is self-guided, so you are left to your own devices and walk around at your own pace. You can opt for the audio guide if you like, but I just went with the cheaper option that included only the map and info about the various parts of the storehouse.

Inside the Storehouse

There was a lot about the history of Guinness and the storehouse spread over several floors, including how the barley and hops are processed, and other interesting info about the whole brewing process. There were also some massive original tanks and barrels on display that were used in the past!

Fermentation tank

I headed up to the 2nd floor where there’s a tasting room, with entry at timed intervals, as it’s a guided experience by members of the staff. In the tasting room, there are several barrels set up with scent nozzles in them, to allow you to smell the different key flavours that make up a Guinness. You’re then given a cute little tasting pint glass to sample the final masterpiece.

Mini Pint

Next I headed up to the 4th floor, to learn how to pour a pint of Guinness.

How to Pour a Pint

I wasn’t aware before learning to pour a Guinness that the Guinness tap levers actually have multiple forward angles to set the pour speed/volume, as well as a backwards angle for the final top-up!

After I poured my own pint, and got my official certificate, I headed up to the Gravity bar on the top floor to check out the 360 degree views. The bar was actually quite packed, and it wasn’t a particularly clear sunny day, so the views weren’t overly spectacular.

Gravity Bar View

I met some tourists from Australia and chatted with them for a bit, but then headed down to the restaurant to grab a quick lunch because I had a 1:30pm ticket reservation for Kilmainham Gaol.

Kilmainham Gaol

Google maps again seemed to be giving me some very odd walking directions, but this time they really didn’t seem to make sense at all. I had to make some of my own judgement calls to figure things out, but eventually made it there in time.

Interesting tidbit - “Gaol”, as in Kilmainham Goal, is the Irish (Gaelic) spelling of the English word “Jail”, and is pronounced just like you would pronounce Jail in English. It isn’t pronounced with a hard-G!

The tour started in the old courtroom, where the guide explained in detail how the sentencing used to work, as well as the different sections of the courtroom and their purpose, but the main attraction were the cells - old and newer.

Old cell corridor

A lot of info was given. Info about the terrible conditions of the old cells, female prisoners having to sleep in the corridors, how even children as young as 7 weren’t safe from being imprisoned. If you’re not at all familiar with the history of Irish prisoners during the revolution, which I wasn’t before this trip, then you should know that it didn’t take much to end up imprisoned, and many innocent people were.

Prisoners spent most of their time in the cold dark cells, with only a candle for light. It was quite depressing to be honest, but I mean it’s a jail … not really meant to be humorous is it?

Here we see one of the old cell doors, with that tiny little hole to see into the cell:

Old cell door

And here’s a close-up view looking into the hole in one of the closed cell doors:

Old cell door peep hole

We continued on to other old, but newer sections of the jail, which were added when Kilmainham needed to be expanded due to overcrowding.

After that we moved on to the newest section, which certainly looked a lot more modern, although I doubt it was any consolation for the prisoners who would end up filling the cells.

Newer cells

Once we finished touring the new cell area, we headed outside to view where some prisoners were executed. A cross was present for final prayers.

Execution area

I left felling a bit somber. Tours like these are absolutely worth it, and shed a powerful light on how harsh life was for some back in the day, but they certainly leave you feeling a bit glum.

Carvery & Bubble Waffle Factory

After the tour was over, which lasted about an hour, I needed something to cheer me up. So I headed back to Temple Bar to meet up with Nick again, where we headed to a carvery for some comfort food, and then stopped for some insanely good bubble waffle ice cream at Bubble Waffle Factory to finish off the night.

Bubble Waffle ice cream

And that brought day 3 to an end for me. I had another long guided tour the next day, so I headed back early to get some sleep.

Day 4 - May 24th

Day 4 was my final day in Dublin - well, actually not really in Dublin since I booked another all-day tour, so technically I was out of Dublin for most of the day. But it would be my last night sleeping in Dublin before heading off to the next city.

Giant’s Causeway tour

Once again I was up early, and headed off on foot to Parnell Square North to meet the tour bus for my Giant’s Causeway tour. Unlike last time though, I made sure I had enough time to get there and was actually one of the first tourists to arrive, even getting there before the tour bus itself.

For this tour, we’d be heading north from Dublin, into Northern Ireland. The drive before reaching our first stop was about 3 hours, during which time our guide told us the legend of the Giant’s Causeway and Finn McCool (Fionn Mac Cumhaill):

A giant named Benandonner, otherwise known as the Red Man, was believed to roam Scotland. Mac Cumhaill and the Red Man did not see eye to eye and Fionn challenged his Scottish nemesis to a fight while they shouted and threatened each other from across the water.

Building the Causeway so he could reach his biggest enemy, Fionn moves rocks from Antrim into the sea and completes his new pathway only to find that Benandonner is his biggest enemy in more than one way. Benandonner was, in fact, much larger than him. Instantly regretting his trash talk, Mac Cumhaill hopes to run back to Ireland and go unnoticed by the Scottish giant. Unfortunately for Fionn, it isn’t long until he is spotted and Benandonner gives chase to the Irish hero’s home in Fort-of-Allen in Co. Kildare.

As Fionn runs as fast as he can back to his homeland, he loses a boot and unfortunately there is no Cinderella story in this case, as the boot was to remain exactly where it was and is still visible at the Causeway today.

We stopped near Dunluce castle to stretch our legs and take some pics. Unfortunately it was far enough away that I couldn’t really get any decent shots with my mobile phone cam.
After about 5-10 minutes, we were back on the road again, on our way to the trip’s main highlight - Giant’s Causeway!

It didn’t take long to get from Dunluce Castle to Giant’s Causeway, so not really sure what the point of stopping there was. But in any case, we had arrived!

Giant's Causeway

… or had we?

We got off the bus, and I saw people going off in the distance, and some coming back as well, but I couldn’t really see where they were heading or coming back from. The guide hadn’t come out with us to visit the Causeway, so we were on our own to explore.

I figured I’d just follow the crowds and see where that got me, and eventually it looked like I was at the right place.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

When you see the rock formations, you could swear they can’t be real and must have been man-made. Not because they look fake mind you, but because … how?

Well the “how” of course is science!

Some 50 to 60 million years ago there was intense volcanic activity in the region. The volcanic activity caused molten basalt to intrude through chalk beds. When the lava later cooled, contraction occurred, leaving behind the rock columns we see today.

Giant's Causeway

After looking around at the different spots with the rocks formations, and getting in a few selfies where I look like I couldn’t be less impressed … apparently I hadn’t yet got the hang of taking selfies, I headed through another section that split off into a bit of a hiking path.

There were some more rock formations along the way, including some really tall formations.

Giant's Causeway

But after continuing on, climbing up along the mountainside and passing around a corner,

Giant's Causeway

there ended up being some really nice views of the mountainside and the water down below.

Giant's Causeway

After that, I headed back to the tour bus, and we shortly made our way to the next stop.

Carrick-a-Rede bridge

Originally built for use by salmon fisherman, the bridge has been rebuilt many times, and hasn’t been used for fishing in some time. According to Wikipedia, the bridge spans 20 meters, and in 2018 alone saw over 485,000 visitors!

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

There’s a bit of a walk to the rope bridge from where the tour buses let everyone off, and as I got closer to the bridge I saw there was quite the line-up to cross it but I couldn’t see why. I just assumed there were that many tourists.

When I finally got to cross the bridge myself, I realized the bridge is quite narrow, and they only allow one at a time to cross. So they’ll let a bunch of people cross from one side, one at a time, and then let the people who crossed previously come back, one at a time. You’re also not really given time for photos due to the line-ups of people waiting to cross.

Once I crossed over to the little island the bridge attaches tp, I had a look around.

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

The surrounding water and natural land formation is really quite beautiful, and the grass on the island is quite lush. I sat down near the edge of the island for a while to stare off into the distance, with the sound of the seagulls flying around and of the water below.

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

I’m sure it would have been really relaxing to just lie back and enjoy the cool breeze and sounds of nature for longer, but I had to make my way back at some point to get back to the tour bus.

The Dark Hedges

Next up we were headed to the Dark Hedges. For those that haven’t seen Game of Thrones, the hedges make an appearance in the 2nd season.

The Dark Hedges

The hedges were nice, and I suppose they were on the way anyway? I loved Game of Thrones don’t get me wrong - re-watched the whole series about 3 or 4 times, but I don’t think I’d have made the trek out just to see them. I got a few photos for the memories though, so I guess that’s a plus right? 😜

The Dark Hedges

After that we headed off to Belfast.

Belfast for a quick pint

A tour mate and I had a quick look around, but we only had an hour and change in Belfast to visit, and we wanted to grab a pint.



So we went on the hunt for one of the pubs recommended by the tour guide, The Jailhouse, and chilled there for a bit. On the way back, we checked out the market at our meeting point, but realize our tour bus was no where to be found! Seeing as it was the time we were supposed to have been leaving, we started to get nervous. We ran around Donegall Square from different sides to try to locate the bus, and finally I was able to find them. They were just about to leave since we hadn’t shown up on time, but luckily we had just made it in time.


And thus our tour came to an end. The tour lasts for ~13 hours, but the time just flies by when you’re on the go. Then again, the 5 or so hours of transfer time from Dublin and back doesn’t help I suppose eh?

Tour Verdict

I really enjoyed the Giant’s Causeway tour, and I think it was well worth the money. The tour guide was great, and the sights were amazing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Dublin or Ireland, whether as part of a tour or on your own!

Madigan’s Pub

We were pretty tired by the time we got back to Dublin, but my tour buddy and I were hungry and decided to find a pub near Parnell Square to grab a bite.

We found Madigan’s Pub, and it looked pretty nice, so we headed in to relax and eat.


After that I called it a night, headed back to my guesthouse to pack and prepare for the next city and one that would end up being my favourite city in Ireland, Killarney.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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