Excursion to Dublin Highlights

<Originally posted by Ashlyn Keil, an English major at CSU currently studying abroad in Galway, Ireland.  Visit her blog page at https://ashlynabroadblog.wordpress.com&gt;20160207_153057(0)

I went to Dublin as part of the first CEA Study Abroad Program Excursion, and here are all the fun places we visited, along with as many pictures as I could take!

Guinness Brewery Tour

This was the first stop on the tour — and I mean literally. We got off the bus and it was straight to the huge Guinness signs.

And the tour was impressive.

There were 7 floors of information and exhibits — all the way from what the ingredients that are used and the whole process of making Guinness, its entire history (marketing, transports, the famous horse, etc), to a Guinness Academy where you can learn how to pour Guinness properly and receive a certificate.

Oh, and the best views of Dublin that you can get on Floor 7 – the Gravity Bar, which is a circular room lined with windows where ticket holders can get a free pint (or soda, but who would do that on the Guinness tour?) and check out the city from above.

The favorite part of the tour for me (not being a beer lover) was, of course, the cooking section, where I snagged two recipes for Guinness Chocolate Truffles and Guinness Chocolate Mousse.

All in all this was an impressive tour that increased my appreciation for how much care and thought and effort is put into making every barrel of Guinness, even if I won’t be the one consuming it.


National Leprechaun Museum

This was a fantastically entertaining visit that was right near the center of the city on our first day — how we could not go the National Leprechaun Museum?

Our tour guide was the best I’ve ever had in terms of knowledge, confidence, and all-around enthusiasm.

She yelled, danced, told creepy Changleing stories, and took us through multiple rooms in the museum that depicted different Leprechaun-themed places. If she hadn’t been so great it wouldn’t have been half as fun of a tour.

She taught us about how the stereotypical, international green-clad Leprechaun came out (apparently viewers of the “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” film didn’t remember that the king of the Leprechaun’s was dressed differently than the traditional ones that followed him, and Lucky Charms followed suit, and the image hasn’t changed since).



Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle (or the remaining part of it anyways) was pretty nice, especially in the morning sunlight — our Program Coordinator let us know a little of the history and told us that there are still government offices in use today in parts of it (and the new parts that were built attached to it).

According to the official Dublin Castle website, the remaining south-east Record Tower “functioned as a high security prison and held native Irish hostages and priests in Tudor times” (dublincastle.ie).

I was thinking how long it would have taken to build such a perfect circular turret by hand (the castle was completed by 1230).


Viking Splash Tour

This was also one of my favorite experiences this past weekend, even though it was quite chilly in wintertime, cloudy Dublin.

This was a new experience for me:  I’d never heard of or even seen a DUKW, which is basically a boat and 4×4 truck developed by General Motors for use by soliders in WWII. The one we rode in was quite old (I forget the date exactly at the moment) but it was in fantastic shape for how old it was.

Go check out their website for all the history on these fascinating contraptions:  http://vikingsplash.com/about-viking-splash/history-of-dukws/

I, sadly, don’t have any pictures for this particular event, since my hands were covered in two pairs of gloves and I didn’t really want to freeze my fingers off taking them off to take a picture with my phone. But that’s what Google Images is for, right?

Our tour guide was fantastic! Hilarious and very well-versed in every site he had taken us to see. He had obviously been doing the tours for some time.

And the best part of this was the Viking yell we had to do (with fists up and a nice, terrifying roar) to each of the “kinds of Celts” that we would encounter while on the road:

  • the Lost Celts (tourists looking at maps)
  • the Unsuspecting Celts (people walking along with their backs to us, not paying any attention)
  • the Cappuccino Celts (people sitting outside enjoying coffee/tea)
  • the Competition Celts (those on the the other tour buses going around Dublin)

Needless to say this was a fun time for us and for the laughing pedestrians that looked up to see us (a lot in cheesy, plastic Vikings caps) “roaring” at them. Best part:  we actually scared a young girl, who laughed and held her hand to her chest as she watched us go by.

National Museum 

This is where the “Perserved Bog Bodies” comes in:  our Program Leader decided that we couldn’t not go see the National Musuem’s exhibit on them.

It was pretty amazing:  actual preserved bodies that had all been murdered in some kind of nasty way (axes, decapitation, you name it) and thrown into bogs only to be found and now put on display.

Visit http://www.museum.ie/Archaeology/Exhibitions/Current-Exhibitions/Kingship-and-Sacrifice for mrore fascinating info!


Overall it was a great, busy weekend full of fun experiences, and I hope to return to focus on a couple specific places and spend even more time in Ireland’s capital.


Tastes of Ireland

Laura Althorpe is a senior at CSU and will be exploring her English heritage at University of Leicester for the Spring semester of 2014. You can visit her blog directly here: http://leicesterlass.wordpress.com/.

[Originally posted on April 12, 2014]

I’m back! I know that my frequency of posting has gone down but I endeavor to make up for that this weekend. I’ve been on spring break for 2 weeks now and so far it has been quite the adventure The first week of spring break I visited Ireland and Scotland- two very different but equally amazing places. Unfortunately all I really saw in Scotland was the inside of my hostel because I was so sick. I came down with an upper respiratory infection the week before break and had just started to feel better when I began traveling. I felt so-so in Ireland but by the time I got to Scotland I was sick with a cold all over again. I had to cut my stay in Edinburgh short by one night because I was honestly too sick to go see anything. The furthest I got from my hostel in Edinburgh was a pharmacy, Nando’s, and The Elephant House which was right around the corner. Luckily I had the dorm in the hostel mostly to myself so I didn’t get anyone sick/keep anyone awake with all of my coughing. So I left Edinburgh a day early and got a train down to Northampton where I have been staying with my Aunt and Uncle for the past week. They have been so wonderful to have me stay with them while I’ve been recovering and I am happy to say that I am much better and ready to jet off to PARIS TOMORROW. Yikes! 😀 More on that later- for now though, let’s talk Ireland.


Grafton Street, Dublin

Dublin was a whole lot of fun and not at all how I pictured- but in a really good way. It’s a really busy little city and there’s so much to do and see there. Although my hostel was not the best in a few different aspects, where it did win out was its location. I stayed at Barnacles Temple Bar Hostel which was literally right above the Temple Bar. I arrived in Dublin on a cool Sunday morning at around 9am (my flight from London was at 6, yikes) and it was the quietest I saw the city the entire time I was there. It was actually really cool to be able to see the city so deserted before I got all caught up in its bussle. After a little confused wandering around I found my hostel, dropped off my bags and went to explore the city. My options of things to see were a bit limited because not only was it Sunday but it was also Mother’s Day so even more things were closed. I found this adorable little pastry shop called the Queen of Tarts, had a yummy breakfast and took off for the Guinness Storehouse.


Blackberry and apple cruble, so lovely

After that little slice of heaven I took off to the Guinness Storehouse which is basically a massive ambush of all things Guinness. Don’t get me wrong it was really cool, it was just A LOT of Guinness everything. There are something like seven floors in the building, all with a different theme. The first few are all about how Guinness is made and what goes into the fermenting process, ect. After that is a tasting room where they teach you how to taste Guinness properly which was actually pretty fun. The floor after that has a bar where they teach you how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness: You get a certificate and everything.


When I was at the Storehouse I ran into my friend Min who lives in my house in Leicester. It was a complete coincidence! She was there with a friend of hers and we had no idea we were both in Dublin, so it was a lovely surprise to see her!


The view from the Gravity Bar

At the very top of the Storehouse is the Gravity Bar which gives you a great panorama of Dublin. Did anyone else know that Dublin has mountains? Not me, so now you do too! There’s your fun fact for the day. 🙂


After the storehouse I wandered down to Grafton Street to find the Captain America Bar I had heard about (shout-out to Kris for telling me where it was) and while I was at it I had a walk around St. Stephen’s Green Park which is at the end of Grafton Street. It was a really nice mild evening and there were so many people around and it had a really cool vibe. Although I did at one point see a guy who was creeping rather shiftily through the bushes so I steered clear. Other than that, and a guy who tried to approach me asking for money, I didn’t run into any problems of the people variety in Dublin.


After a quick dinner out (because eating alone really is no fun) thus ended my first day in Dublin. I decided last minute to book a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher on the West coast of Ireland so I set out bright and early the next day to do just that. More on that later my lovely readers!