Latitude 34 Guide To Ireland
Visiting Ireland has always been pretty high up there on my bucket list. Coming from Los Angeles, I was always drawn to the history and the lush green countryside that contrast the concrete city I am from. While in Thailand, Jeff and I became good friends with an Irish couple that is our same age. When they invited us to come visit them in Ireland we jumped at the opportunity.
Ireland is such a beautiful country and we learned so much about Irish history during our 8 days there. If you haven’t seen the movie “Michael Collins”, we highly recommend you do before your trip to Ireland. It helps explain a lot about the vast history and importance behind Irish pride.
In summery, Ireland was controlled by the British from 1800-1912 until they fought for their freedom in xxxx. Many Irish fought and died for the idea of the Republic of Ireland and eventually that may or may not have become a reality depending on who you ask. The British agreed to end the war as long as they kept control over what is now Northern Ireland, which today remains loyal to The Queen and British controlled while Ireland is their own republic. Many Irish didn’t like this arrangement while others just wanted the war to be over and saw this treaty as a stepping stone to their independence. Due to this disagreement, a Civil War ensued splitting the two countries even further. There still remains some hostility in Northern Ireland by the NRA who are always fighting and trying to complete the ideal of a true Irish Republic.
Things To Do-
With so much history in Ireland there are so many things to do and experience. Although we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to here are some of the things we did that we really enjoyed!
The Guinness Storehouse
Visiting the Guinness brewery, which is called The Guinness Storehouse, is a must even if you don’t drink. The Guinness Storehouse is set up almost like an amusement park and has a lot of information about how the famous dark stout is made and about how Arthur Guinness invented the popular Irish beer. The inside of the building is the world’s largest pint glass which consumes all of the seven story building. If this glass was to actually be filled with Guinness it would take 14.3 million pints to do so. At the top of the Storehouse there is a gravity bar where you can enjoy a free Guinness and overlook the city of Dublin. In order to enter the Guinness Storehouse and see everything it has to offer, it cost €16.50 ($22.49 USD) however if you purchase your tickets online it only costs €14.85 ($20.24).
If you end up going be sure to check out the Tasting Experience. Not only do you get a small glass of Guinness, but you are lead into a room that resembles something inside of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The room is all white with 4 smoky towers and a bar with, of course, Guinness on tap. There they will explain the 4 main ingredients which are the 4 towers of vapor, each giving off the sent of the ingredient. Then you will be lead into a darker room where they explain the correct way to drink a Guinness and experience the full flavor of the beer.
Next be sure to check out Newgrange which is located in County Meath. It is the oldest monument known to man. It was built around 3200 BC making it older than the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge. It is a large dome shaped monument perched perfectly on a lush hillside. Although not too much is known about why Newgrange exists, we do know that it is a tomb and is believed to have been used for religious significance. The most interesting part of Newgrange is what happens here during the Winter Solstice. Every year during the Winter Solstice, the dark tomb is filled with light when the sun light shines perfectly through a small window in the entryway illuminating the entire tomb. This only happens once a year for just a few minutes. Despite what time of year you visit the monument, they will explain the light and recreate it so you can see what it would be like. Entry into Newgrange is €6.00 ($8.18 USD).
Located right in Dublin is the Kilmainham Goal or jail which is the largest unoccupied jails in Europe. The jail was first built in 1796 although it has been altered many times since. In the early history of the jail, public hangings where common in the front of the jail and today you can still see the holes in the side of the building right above the main doorway where the gallows stood. The jail has old cells as well as a more modern design that allowed the inmates to have personal cells and keep order. The round design of the Victorian Wing, or the East Wing, was the first design that allowed guards to see every cell and every inmate at all times. There have been many famous prisoners here and many of the men and women who helped fight for Irish independence from Britain were once jailed here. Also, many men, women and children were jailed here during the Irish Famine. During this time anyone caught stealing food was arrested and jailed, most of them in Kilmainham.
Entry to the jail costs €6 ($8.18 USD) for an adult and €2 ($2.73 USD) for a child or student and is just 3.5km from the center of Dublin. Entry includes a guided tour (you cannot explore without a guide) and they explain all the history and discuss a few famous prisoners.
If you have time to take a trip up to Northern Ireland, we would highly recommend visiting Giant’s Causeway. Located 262km north of Dublin (about a 3 hour drive), Giant’s Causeway is a beautiful place to spend a day. Situated on the North Atlantic Ocean with beautiful cliffs, Giant’s Causeway is a landscape to remember. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption. Many consider Giant’s Causeway to be one of the greatest natural wonders in the UK. The beach is full of hexagon shaped stones as well as towers made of these stones, the tallest of which is 39 feet hight.
For centuries many have been inspired by its natural beauty. You can hire a tour guide or just come and explore on your own. If you are a whiskey fan, the Giant’s Causeway is located in Bushmills where the famous Bushmills Distillery is. Don’t forget that Northern Ireland is part of the UK and doesn’t use Euros like they do in Ireland. Northern Ireland uses the Northern Ireland Pound, a slightly different looking version of the GBP, however they do accept the British pound and vise-versa.
***While the Irish are known for their drinking and their cozy pubs there are a few things you should know coming from America. Irish pubs in America aren’t the same as the pubs in Ireland. While the decor and Guinness are the same, don’t be mistaken. You cannot ever, not even as a joke, walk into a pub in Ireland and order a “Irish Car Bomb” or a “Black and Tan”. If you know anything about Irish history this would make sense, but since they are such popular drinks back home you may not think about it. Since there is still a lot of unrest in Northern Ireland, ordering a drink called “An Irish Car Bomb” wouldn’t go over very well. Furthermore, ordering a “Black and Tan” would get you in a bar fight pretty quickly considering that the Black and Tans where the name given to British Death Squads that were responsible for many Irish deaths back in the war. Not only do these drinks not exist in Ireland, they would be an insult to their history and could get you into some trouble with the locals.
Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.
As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.
Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.