As I mentioned previously, I’ve broken my second trip to Ireland into several posts by location.
So, I’ll start where I started upon arrival to Dublin Airport. For reasons obvious, Dublin is much busier than the Shannon airport, with customs lines befitting a major city. We rented a car and drove to our VRBO rental in the city. I highly recommend this two bed, two bath apartment. Our hostess was so nice, leaving us with breakfast pastries, milk and coffee. It’s a bit of a walk to the more touristy areas of Dublin, but it was a great price and had free parking.
The next day, we drove to Malahide Castle, about 30 minutes north. DART, the Dublin train system, also runs to the town of Malahide, about a 10-15 minute walk from the castle itself.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, and probably the warmest all year, reaching near 80 Fahrenheit! Spring is amazing! Malahide Castle and Gardens deserve the better part of the day, so plan accordingly. The castle is 800 years old, with a beautiful interior, although décor tends towards the 19th century. The Talbott family occupied the castle almost continuously until they sold it in the 1970s. Aside from the castle, there are hundreds of acres of gardens, a butterfly house, visitor center, Avoca shop and restaurant, and the ruins of Malahide Abbey.
The Castle & Gardens admission ticket includes a guided tour of the castle. It’s about 45 minutes long, and provides interesting insight you would miss otherwise.
Avoca shops and cafes are all over Ireland, seemingly a staple. The restaurant at Malahide was a bit nicer, and much larger, than the one at Moll’s Gap in Killarney National Park. Everything was fresh and had a healthy inclination.
During my visit in May, the gardens were in full bloom, complete with parading peacocks! The butterfly house was my favorite. The last lord of Malahide served as an international diplomat and brought back many of the exotic plants from his travels. This same gentleman, Baron Milo Malahide, has a bit of intrigue surrounding his life, and death. Tutored by two scholars who were later revealed as Soviet spies, Malahide led a well-traveled life, but retired quite early after the scandal of his former tutors was revealed. Further, he died unexpectedly while on a Greek cruise. Allegedly, no autopsy was performed, and locals claimed they saw his sister burning papers at the castle immediately after his death.
Malahide Village is a short drive from the castle, with plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from. We stopped for ice cream before driving to the Howth Cliff Walk. The trail is about 3 miles long, but we only walked a short distance. The views are beautiful, and it’s hard to believe such natural beauty is only a short drive outside of hectic Dublin.
We cruised through the town of Howth, famous for its fresh seafood, but didn’t stop. The town was so packed restaurant lines spilled down the street, and there was no parking. I think all of Dublin turned out to enjoy the seaside on such a lovely day!
I summarized a few Dublin highlights in my earlier post, places we didn’t visit on the second trip. We did return to Trinity College, although not for the Book of Kells. Instead, we went on a college admissions tour! My sister considered Trinity during her junior year, so I tagged along. It was fun to hear about campus life, so different than what I experienced in the US, plus we saw university buildings we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Afterwards, we strolled over to the Molly Malone statue, which sits on the meeting of Suffolk Street, St. Andrew’s Street and Church Lane. A block away, pickup Grafton Street. The famous pedestrian shopping district, the street runs all the way to St. Stephens Green. The park is a nice respite from city life.
Our final day was spent at the National Museum of Ireland- Archaeology campus. Admission to all the national museum locations is free. The archeological museum focuses on ancient Ireland through the middle ages. The museum contains weaponry, jewelry, pottery and more. I was particularly excited to see the Ardagh Chalice and Tara Brooch.
A final trip through the Temple Bar, a return trip to the Queen of Tarts café for dinner, and we concluded our Dublin stay that evening.