I think everybody is aware of the significance of St Patrick’s Day to the Irish, and so when myself and two friends discovered we could fly to Dublin and back for £17 and experience the party in Ireland’s capital, we figured ‘why the hell not?’
Being university students, the aim was of course to spend relatively little. With this in mind, we thought it best to just skip booking accommodation all together, hoping that if we wrapped up warm we’d easily make it through the night- the beer blanket would undoubtedly help too. This also meant that there would be no bags to check in on the way or pick up upon arrival; we could get straight the pub and join the celebrations. After quickly stopping to grab food and some ridiculously bright green t-shirts reading ‘St Patricks Day, Ireland’, this is exactly what we did.
We started by venturing towards the busy ‘Temple Bar’ area, with the eponymous pub filled to the brim, and the ensuing queue getting ever longer. Despite the apparent impossibility of us actually getting in, the street was packed with locals and tourists alike, giving it a distinctly special atmosphere and making us already glad we came to share in it. Eventually we managed to squeeze our way into a bar along the strip called ‘Buskers’ and order our first proper pint; we’d had a drink whilst roaming around the streets but we didn’t really count that as our first. Having been to Dublin before, I’d mentioned to my friends how the taste of Guinness in Ireland was far superior to the stuff we get in the UK and I hoped they’d agree. Luckily they did. We finished our drinks and managed to smuggle out our glasses as a memento of our first pint in Dublin on St Paddy’s Day- the only souvenir I really wanted.
Following this, the three of us decided we would have another wander of the streets, which were now filled with the largest amount of drunkards I had ever seen. We quickly found another pub in which to wet our whistle and this time we were joined by three Americans from the University of Alabama- a guy and two girls- presumably over in Ireland for the same reason as us. Being of a similar age with similar interests, it was easy becoming acquainted with them and we soon found ourselves going from bar to bar as a collective, despite one of the girls being so drunk she was refused entry on one occasion. Soon we found ourselves in a music bar where the six of us met two French students. It was here we spent a considerable amount of time talking, drinking and watching the live music- before we knew it, it was 2 o’clock in the morning.
This was the beauty of St Patrick’s Day. We arrived as a party of three young Englishmen and before we knew it we had more than doubled in size and now consisted of three nationalities. Everyone was there for the same common purpose; to have a good time. The atmosphere was friendly and enjoyable; all of Dublin seemed filled with people just looking for fun.
As I have already mentioned, we didn’t think it necessary for us to book accommodation. This hadn’t been a problem until we came to leave the music bar in the early hours of the morning. Hoping to be granted somewhere to sleep, we walked with the Americans back to their hostel and thanks to a mixture of concealment and pretending that we too had the required wristbands, we were smuggled into their hostel. Their plan was to house us in the communal lounge but unfortunately for us it closed at 1:00AM, meaning that we soon found ourselves back outside wandering the streets again.
Everywhere was still bustling with people but despite the eventfulness, the cold was becoming a little too much for us. We had researched all the places near the centre that were open 24 hours a day beforehand, and opting not to go for the local snooker clubs, we made our way to a reliable safe haven- Mcdonald’s. Considering it was 4 o’clock in the morning, this was without a doubt the busiest Mcdonald’s I had ever encountered. It was also arguably the rowdiest as it contained a host of intoxicated customers and napkins concealing the vomit that had decorated the floor.
Night was swiftly turning into day and we decided we wanted to watch the sun come up from the Dublin docklands. In a rather groggy and lazy manner, the three of us followed the river from the city centre down towards the docks. At around 6:30AM, we looked backwards towards the centre of Dublin and saw the sun come up. We had somehow made it through the night.
Given that we still had the entirety of the day ahead of us before our 19:45 flight back to Birmingham, we figured now would be best time to do some of the major attractions such as St James’ Gate Storehouse. For anyone who has previously done this, you’ll no doubt be aware that the end of the Storehouse experience provides you with a complimentary pint of Guinness- something we were not too keen on this early in the morning after the night before. We decided therefore to visit Kilmainham Gaol first.
Though the jail was originally built at the very end of the 18th century, it is perhaps most famous for its housing of the 1916 Easter Rising criminals. This intriguing claim, alongside the €2 entrance fee for students, meant it was somewhere we did not want to miss in our short time in Dublin. I’m certainly glad we went if not for the Victorian wing alone. It was a graphic reminder of how the prison itself functioned and the restrictive measures imposed upon the inmates. It seemed to me that it belonged more in a period drama than in reality and so it was fascinating to see up close and personal. It’s no wonder that sites such as Trip Advisor have rated this the top attraction in Dublin.
We then decided to follow this with another of Trip Advisor’s top 10 recommendations in the Guinness Storehouse at St James’ Gate. Though we of course enjoyed this experience, in truth, our current state and lack of sleep meant that we somewhat drifted through the first half that explained how Guinness was made in favour of getting to the second half. The tasting. This certainly perked us up a bit.
With the tasting done, we soon swapped the small, pint shaped shot glasses for a properly sized free pint of Guinness at the gravity bar atop the storehouse. The only thing better than a pint, is a free pint. It was pretty extraordinary enjoying a distinctively Irish beverage whilst looking out at the entirety of its capital from above. The novelty of course had to end at some point, so we filtered down alongside the other tourists before heading back to the airport in time for our flight.
The grand total of 25 hours 45 minutes we spent in Dublin was a truly unforgettable experience down to a combination of factors. Not only were we able to combine year round tourist attractions with the annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations, but we were also able to do it in a hugely affordable manner. It was a couple of days I’m not likely to forget and something I’d recommend to anyone.