Visiting My Ancestral Homelands (Part 7) – Touring Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is a wonderful tourist destination. Dublin knows that it is a wonderful tourist destination. And, there is nothing wrong with that!

My wife and I were a couple of the tourists from around the world when we visited Dublin just a few weeks ago.

Our great hosts, Terri and Aylish were former neighbours from Canada who had moved back ‘home’ to Dublin.

For my wife and I, it was a triple pleasure: we visited a great city, re-connected with great friends, and we walked in the footsteps of our ancestors.

We used the Dublin ‘Hop On Hop Off’ bus tour (2-day package) as our means of getting around the city and seeing the sights. There are two routes used by the tour buses and we enjoyed both. The longer tour, about two hours in length, covers the city proper while the second shorter tour, about 45 minutes in length, covers the docklands.

The great advantage of these bus tours is that your ticket allows to to ‘hop off’ the bus at any stop to explore the various museums, sights, or shopping districts at your leisure and then ‘hop on’ a subsequent bus to continue the tour. Buses come by each stop at ten to fifteen minutes intervals so waiting isn’t really an issue. Each of the bus drivers follows the same basic tour script but each also infuses their own form of Irish wit and humour along the way.

Many of the sights were related to the 1916 Easter Rising (or Easter Rebellion) which lead eventually to Irish independence from Great Britain. I was particularly fascinated by the bullet holes still visible in some statues along O’Connell Street left from that time. Certainly, next year there will be many commemorations and events marking the centennial of the uprising.

The Spire of Dublin

The Spire of Dublin

The Spire of Dublin, also known as the Monument of Light, is pin-like monument rising almost 400 feet above downtown Dublin. The monument was built of stainless steel as a millennial project and our tour bus driver noted that it wasn’t completed, in true Irish fashion, until 2003. The stainless steel was to ensure low cost maintenance but quipped our guide, the government spends about 40,000 euros every two years to clean the monument now locally known as the world’s largest stiletto heel.

Safety First for Pedestrians in Dublin

Safety First for Pedestrians in Dublin

Knowing that not every visitor to Dublin will be from countries with driving on the left side of the road, the Irish have painted signs at pedestrian crosswalks informing people of which way to look for oncoming traffic. It must have worked as neither my wife nor I had any problems safely crossing the streets.

Dublin Convention Centre

Dublin Convention Centre

The Dublin Convention Centre opened in 2010 and is now known locally as the ‘Tube in the Cube.’

Dublin cemetery

Dublin cemetery

As a genealogist, I was dismayed at the condition of some of the cemeteries I observed in Dublin during our tour. Although the cemetery above is well enclosed by stone walls, you can see the deterioration of many gravestones and general lack of maintenance of the grounds.

Monument to Benjamin Lee Guiness

Monument to Benjamin Lee Guinness

Benjamin Lee Guinness (1798-1868) was a Dublin native who became Mayor of Dublin and also served in the House of Commons as the Dublin representative. He was also known for his philanthropy, oh, and for brewing a beverage that bears his name! offices in Dublin, Ireland offices in Dublin, Ireland

This photo was taken as we passed by the office in Dublin. A good reminder of my love for all things genealogy!






Visiting My Ancestral Homelands (Part 6) – Off To Dublin, Ireland

On May 6th, we had to say so long to daughter Jenna and my ancestral homeland of Aberdeen. We were off to visit our ancestral homeland of Ireland.

My wife and I both have Irish roots. My Irish roots lay in the southern counties of Clare and Waterford. My wife’s Irish roots lay further north in County Fermanagh.

Although we did not have a chance to visit those places (maybe next time?), the real purpose of our too brief a visit in Dublin was to visit former neighbours, octogenarian (but going on 40) Aylish and her daughter Terri, now permanent residents in Aylish’s native Dublin.

After passing through the routine, yet still cumbersome, security check at the Aberdeen International Airport, we entered the duty-free shopping area. There, we were greeted by a woman at a counter offering free samples of six varieties of single malt Scotch. Try as many as you like, all free, she says.

I’m not much of a consumer of alcohol and rarely imbibe but, when I do, my preference is for single malt Scotch. Unlike her mother, my wife doesn’t like it at all (her loss in my opinion!). I took the counter lady at her word and tried a few of her samples. The wee drams were wonderful nectar and likely ensured that I had a relaxing flight over the Irish Sea.

My first impression of Ireland – it really is green! Although I’m not really certain that it is greener than anywhere else.


An aerial view of the Irish countryside as our plane approached Dublin

Dublin is a magical city to visit. A tourist Mecca where we encountered visitors from literally all around the globe. And Dublin caters to all of their appetites for all things Irish.

Our hosts, Terri and Aylish, greeted us at our hotel and provided a magical, whirlwind two and a half days of Dublin sight-seeing, shopping, storytelling and Irish lore.

Ellen with friends Aylish and Terri enjoying a moment on one of the main shopping concourses in Dublin

Ellen with friends Aylish and Terri enjoying a moment on one of the main shopping concourses in Dublin

A highly recommended treat and trip highlight for us was an evening out at the Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198. (For the reference of my children, should they ever someday read my blog, yes, that date is before I was born!).

The Brazen Head Pub, Dublin, Ireland (photo by Ian Hadden, 2015)

The Brazen Head Pub, Dublin, Ireland (photo by Ian Hadden, 2015)

An Evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies is an example of Irish entertainment and magic at it’s finest. Johnny Daly was our host and storyteller the night we attended the Brazen Head. A candlelit full Irish dinner mixed with live Irish music and storytelling of Irish history, especially the impact of the famine and diaspora times, Irish folklore and the still remaining beliefs in leprechauns and fairies.

If you have Irish ancestry, as I do, an evening such as this just might help explain a lot!