Ireland was a pending destination for years. What better time to take a break than the celebration of St. Patrick's Day, the national holiday of the Republic of Ireland. Surely we have all heard phrases such as the world dresses in green or the day everyone feels Irish. Well, the festival of Saint Patrick is, beyond the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.
It is the manifestation of a people who feel proud of their traditions, their capabilities and achievements. It is a showcase in which they show them. Throughout the country and all the places scattered around the world in which there is an Irish presence this festival is celebrated with celebrations and parades. The most important of the Saint Patrick's festivals is the one that takes place in the city of Dublin.
Day 1 in Dublin
We arrived in Dublin on a flight at 22:20. We moved to the hotel in Ballsbridge, a residential neighborhood of mostly single-family houses in which several embassies are located. The hotel is well connected by bus lines to the center of Dublin or for a pleasant walk in half an hour on foot.
The first thing we did, despite the time, was to take a walk around, to stretch our legs and for a contact with the Irish pubs. Nearby, around the block, at the junction of Huddington Road and Shelbourne Road we found several restaurants. We see fast food outlets and most importantly, several pubs of different environments in which we tasted our first Irish pint.
While getting back to the hotel we passed next to the Aviva Stadium, where the Rugby and Soccer competitions are held. In it the competition of the so-called Irish Sports competitions is not allowed. Two of them are the Irish Footbal (which allows limited use of hands) and the Hurling, the Irish sport par excellence, with its female version called Camogie.
I had the chance to see a Hurling video and it's spectacular. An important fact is that the players of Hurling and Camogie do not charge a penny for practicing this sport. It is absolutely amateur and the Irish liking for these sports is impressive.
Day 2 in Dublin
After an excellent Irish breakfast, we go to the nearest stop to go to the center. Shortly after starting the trip I realized that we were going in the opposite direction. Since it was not too much to know a little more of the city we went to Blackrock. After getting off and taking a walk through the small town, we took the bus return to the center.
Once in Northside Dublin, in O'Connel Street we wander aimlessly, but with the aim of heading to South Dublin, to the center of the city. We reached the Liffey River, which divides Dublin in two. We cross it by Grattan Bridge, following the walk in front of the Town Hall, the Dublin Castle, and various alleys that led us to the statue of Molly Mallone and Trinity College. There was already a party atmosphere. Many people were in the streets in green clothes.
It was a very pleasant walk and after taking the bus on Nassau Street, where most of the lines stop, we return to the hotel to meet our guide. Fearing another mistake like the morning, and so as not to end up in Northern Ireland, I asked a boy who was at the stop of the bus that would take me to my hotel near Aviva Stadium.
I confirmed it and we both climbed to the first one that came. Well, at the stop before mine came he told me that the next was mine and to take the first right for my hotel. Something would have to see my English accent of the Celtic peoples, or that really the Irish are very friendly people, as we could check these days. At the stop before mine came and told me that the next was mine and that I took the first right for my hotel.
With our guide we attended an Irish whiskey tasting. The truth is that we really liked that whiskey, with a delicate flavor and is very soft in comparison with other Scottish malt or American bourbon. We savor some appetizers.
In the afternoon we take a guided tour of the city, with special attention to the Saint Patrick's Cathedral. It is the oldest cathedral in Ireland. Along with the Christ Church Cathedral it is one of the two cathedrals of Dublin. Both are Anglican, although they originally belonged to the Catholic Church. St. Patrick's Cathedral is the largest in Ireland and is the final resting place of Jonathan Swift. It has an impressive choir with the seats of the Knights of St. Patrick, with their coats of arms and banners.
The beautiful remodeled Lady Chapel, behind the main altar is dedicated to the Irish combatants killed in the wars of Crimea, China and Burma and to the men and women killed in the World War I and II. On the walls we can see the flags of the old regiments and some more modern battalions of the RAF. In this chapel there is a sculpture dedicated to the combatants of the IGM.
Then we continue with the visit that ended at Christchurch Cathedral and the Viking vestiges of the primitive Dublin. We dined at the restaurant. It was not cheap, but was worth it. At first I had a fish cake that tasted great. After a couple of Guinness pints we returned to the hotel for a good night's rest.
Day 3 - The Wicklow Mountains
We plan to visit the County Wicklow located to the south of Dublin and in it there are the Wicklow Mountains, that are not of highest of the country. There are three of more with Carrantuohill (1,038 m), Beenkeragh (1,010 m) and Caher (1,001 m). The lowest mountain is the Lugnaquilla with a height of 925 m. They are rounded mountains carved by glaciers, with numerous passes and glacial lakes. Its slopes are covered by marshy areas and the Wicklow Mountains National Park with 3,700 hectares is also located here.
Our first stop was at Kilruddery House & Gardens, a beautiful mansion that belongs to the Brabazon family since 1618 and for sixteen generations. It is a beautiful mansion with one of the best gardens in Ireland and beautiful walks. The mansion houses many rooms and halls that can be covered in a guided tour and that house antiques brought successively by their guests.
There are tea rooms lined with tissue paper brought from the East, antique clocks, precious and precious furniture, to an interesting outdoor room. The Orangery has a glass ceiling and statues inspired by The Crystal Palace, where we enjoy a tea with pastries and freshly baked scones.
In this house and gardens have been filmed numerous films. Next we headed to Glendalough, a few kilometers to the south. Glendalough is a valley that soon became a center of pilgrimages. It had an authentic city, with a cathedral, several churches, a circular tower 30 m high and numerous buildings, whose remains can be seen today.
The place is charming, and walking through its ruins and surroundings is an authentic delight. The monastic complex is located on the shores of the lower lake and the Glencalo river. In its vicinity lie several hiking trails. The most popular one leads to the upper lake from where there are some beautiful views.
There are several hiking trails in the area, and the best known is the St. Kevin's Way that leads from Hollywood to Glendalough. The Wicklow Way Trail leads from the south of Dublin to Clonegal, crossing the most spectacular areas of these beautiful mountains.
We leave this wonderful place and along a mountain road we cross at Wicklow Mountain Park to go to Hollywood, where we have a light lunch. The road allows us to enjoy the landscape. We see several abandoned mines. The minerals that were extracted were mainly lead and zinc, along with small amounts of silver.
When we reach the highest areas the landscape is rounded mountains covered with heather and grassland, with an abundance of mosses and lichens. They are very similar to the Scottish Highland. We finally arrived in Hollywood. The first thing that catches our attention is a sign with the name of the town, on a hill and surrounded by sheep grazing.
The town is small, but charming, and we headed for lunch with a tasty vegetable soup and some less prominent sandwiches. We are surrounded by numerous photographers of directors and famous actors, whose passage through this town is due to the great number of films shot in this county, known as the European Hollywood.
From Hollywood we went back to Dublin crossing the spectacular route of the Blessington Lakes. These lakes were formed in 1947 with the construction of the Poulaphouca reservoir, which produces electricity and in turn supplies water to Dublin.
On our way back to Dublin, we took a new tour of the city, which already had a festive atmosphere in St. Stephen's Green. There was a large box with traditional music and hundreds of amateurs enjoying the show. We also enjoyed dinner with the pleasant company of the traditional Irish music group. After dinner, and of course a few pints, we retired. Tomorrow is the parade or as they call it there St. Patrick's Festival Parade.
Day 4 - St. Patrick's Day Parade
Since March 14 throughout the city hundreds of events of the most varied have taken place. There are street theater, musical performances, and activities for children and families. There are also boat races, treasure hunts, exhibitions, performances. There is also helf the Irish beer and whiskey festival, film festival, bagpipe contests and most of them are free to enter. But the culmination of these celebrations is the parade.
The parade is the manifestation of the pride of being Irish and a sample of the identity signs of Ireland. At breakfast in the hotel we agree with a group dressed in the traditional kilt. They belonged to the Bagpipe Band of the Saint Patrick's Battalion in Mexico City, and that they had come to take part in the Parade.
In reference to the kilt, known as Scottish/Irish skirt, it seems that it was actually introduced in Scotland in the seventeenth century. This garment has its origin in the Irish Lein-croich, a long robe of about 5 m surrounding and tied to the waist as a skirt. The rest was placed on the shoulders in different ways according to weather needs, and held by a brooch.
The traditional Irish colors used to be darker than the Scottish and there are representations and sculptures that show that it was already used in Ireland before the 16th century. We headed to the center of the city to enjoy the parade and take photographs that gave graphic testimony of this great event.
In the first place, we made a brief tour of the place where the festival was being prepared. We were able to see the preparations and trials of the groups up close. The atmosphere throughout the city was really festive. Thousands of people are on the streets in green clothes.
The most popular, of course, the leprechaun hats (kind of Irish goblins), but closely followed by shirts, shirts, hats, scarves, and as many clothes you can imagine. And of course almost all with the clover symbol of Ireland. Tradition tells that the Patron Saint explained to the faithful the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
In this year's edition of the parade, eight main groups of floats from various locations in Ireland participated, in addition to several smaller ones. There are groups of Bagpipes and Drums and March from Ireland, USA, Mexico and Germany. In addition to an Irish army company and a body of riders, and several more that I will leave in the pipeline.
The parade leaves the vicinity of St. Mary's Place in North Dublin and crosses the river by O'Connel Bridge. It passes before the town hall and ends next to St. Patrick's Cathedral after a trip of 3 km completely crowded with people in the street. People climb to monuments, in windows, balconies and even roofs, all of them applauding and enjoying the event.
Many young people of all nationalities, but older people and families with children tremble. I have to say that even baby green bodies were sold in souvenir shops. Once the parade was over, we resumed our efforts with a buffet lunch at Exchequeur Street. We have a tasty Irish Stew (stewed lamb) watered with a few pints of Guinness to regain strength.
Then we take a new walk through the city and a break until late afternoon when we were invited to a cocktail party at the hotel. The cocktail party we were invited to was held ina beautiful room above the entrance of the hotel, overlooking St. Stephen Green. At the head of the table there were two chairs, each with a drink in front, in which no one sat.
As a farewell to Dublin, since we flew home early in the morning, we dined at one of the best seafood restaurants in Dublin. It's not cheap, but the food is worth it and the portions are super-rich. Of course accompanied by some pints of Guinness.
In summary it was a very pleasant experience to be in the celebration of St. Patrick's Day in Dublin. Ireland and Dublin in particular are a very interesting destination. The Irish people are cheerful and very friendly and the folklore and Irish food highly recommended. Of course, there is the Irish beer and whiskey.
I'm already starting to plan my next trip to Ireland to tour the country and do some of the wonderful hiking trails there, especially the fantastic Wild Atlantic Way.