Impressions of Ireland

By Stephen O. Addison, Jr.
This item appears on page 13 of the January 2013 issue.
Approaching the monastic settlement at Glendalough, we came upon this cemetery. Photo: Addison

From a vacation my wife, Paula, and I and another couple took in the Republic of Ireland, June 14-25, 2012 (Dec. ’12, pg. 14), I have a few attractions and impressions to share.

We feel that, in Dublin, the Chester Beatty Library (Dublin Castle, Dublin 2; phone+[353 1] 407 0750 — Open 10-5 Tuesday-Friday, 11-5 Saturday, 1-5 Sunday and closed Mondays. Free admission) is underrated. If you’re interested in early Islamic, Asian and Christian manuscripts and art, this is a “must see.” It took us two lengthy visits to fully experience its relatively small, but outstanding, collections.

There were excellent free performances by Asian dancers and musicians in the lobby of the library during our first visit.

We had some relaxing walks in scenic areas southeast of Dublin’s city center. I recommend strolling along Dublin’s Grand Canal and in the Ballsbridge neighborhood, with its tree-lined streets surrounded by grand houses and embassies (including the American Embassy).”

Dublin's Grand Canal.

But don’t spend too much time in Dublin. Ireland’s best sights and experiences are outside of the city.

Be sure you have plenty of time (and hope for good weather) for your visit to Glendalough. While the ancient monastic settlement is fascinating, its setting is simply gorgeous. It’s the one place we visited where I wished we had far more time to linger.

In Galway, be sure to allocate some time for a leisurely stroll along the Eglinton Canal and along the River Corrib.

Free WiFi was common in lodgings, although there could be little or no signal in guest rooms. Free WiFi was surprisingly common. It was offered in the excellent tourist offices on Suffolk Street in Dublin and in Galway, at the Dingle Peninsula’s Great Blasket Centre, at the visitors’ center for the Cliffs of Moher, in the café at the ferry landing on the north bank of the Shannon and at Dublin’s airport.

Free (and clean) WCs were readily available at visitors’ centers, attractions and motorway service areas, in restaurants and pubs, etc. The public WC at the Dublin Castle is highly recommended, if you’re in that area.

Approaching the ancient Glendalough monastic settlement in County Wicklow, Ireland.

While you don’t go to Ireland for the cuisine, our meals were consistently good. Dublin, in particular, had a large collection of ethnic restaurants that provided pleasant alternative dining.

The country was more sparsely populated than we expected. Even Dublin never seemed crowded. The total population of the entire Republic of Ireland is less than the population of the greater London area.

Lastly, we happened upon the occasional palm tree in Dublin, Galway and other places in Ireland. Who knew?

Charlotte, NC