Dublin – A Day Out On The DART
This was our fourth trip to Dublin in as many years, so we tried something different and it worked out better than we could have hoped. I booked the trip as a surprise part of Amanda’s 40th birthday celebrations. We both love Dublin and Amanda would have liked everyone to come over for the weekend, but with the cost and the travel we stuck with York for the birthday pub crawl the previous weekend. So, for my surprise trip, it was a fairly obvious choice and Amanda pretty much worked it out before we even left home.
The trip from Scunthorpe to Manchester Airport is fairly straightforward, apart from the inevitable traffic issues, but this time it was more complicated. Amanda had to be in Edinburgh with work the night before we were due to fly out of Manchester. No great issues I hear you say and I guess it shouldn’t have been. The plan was for Amanda to let the train take the strain, going up to Edinburgh on the Thursday and meeting me at Manchester Airport mid-afternoon on the Friday, with me driving across as normal. Complicated became a potential travel disaster! The weather turned nasty, with storm Gertrude hitting Scotland hard, resulting in blanket train cancellations. The weather and the additional road traffic meant that hiring a car to drive down to Manchester in time for our flight was far too risky. There was no other option but to head to Edinburgh Airport and fly direct to Dublin and meet me there…Amanda’s version of ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’.
After meeting up and getting into Dublin centre, we checked in at the hotel and wandered across the road to The Ginger Man pub for a few beers before bed. This place was heaving. It’s a relatively small pub made up of lots of different seating (standing in our case) areas on multiple levels. The atmosphere was buzzing and the punters appeared to be mainly locals. The Guinness was good and the sharing platter we ordered was massive, full of chicken wings, mini spring rolls, onion rings and potato wedges. It was by no means à la carte, but it filled a hole and was very welcome after a long day.
We stayed for two nights at the O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel, which was lovely and highly recommended. As we’d already done most, if not all, of the tourist hotspots in Dublin on previous trips, Amanda came up with the idea of buying two DART tickets and head along the coast in search of new adventures. The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is the rail line running along the coast of Dublin, from Malahide and Howth in the North to Greystones in the South. We decided to head South and hop off at Dún Laoghaire (pronounced Dunleary). We took a stroll down the East Pier, which featured in the 1996 movie ‘Michael Collins’ with Liam Neeson. The wind was strong and thankfully the short sharp shower passed over quickly. At the end of the pier we found a guy playing his guitar, not really busking for money, just hunkered down behind the sea wall enjoying himself…maybe his wife hates his singing!
After a short stroll around the town and a new pair of shoes for Amanda (now becoming a ritual on such trips), we popped into The Forty Foot Wetherspoon’s pub to plan our next section of the day. We decided to walk further South down towards Sandycove Point, site of the James Joyce Tower and the real 40 Foot, a promontory from which people have been swimming in the Irish Sea all year round for some 250 years. Originally, it was a gentlemen’s bathing place, although women and children are now allowed. In fact, an older couple were just drying off after a swim as we walked down to the waters edge…it must have been freezing!
After Sandycove, it was another short walk into Dalkey, a thriving seaside suburb and home to many celebrities including Bono and Van Morrison. We ventured into five pubs (McDonagh’s, The Queen’s Bar, The King’s Inn, The Magpie Inn and Finnegan’s) and had a fabulous afternoon drinking the ‘Black Stuff’ and chatting with the locals…although we never saw Bono.
One guy we met, reckoned he’d spent some time in the UK at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ for his part in a large brewery heist. I Googled Willie McCann, but failed to find any records to corroborate his story. It’s not necessarily untrue, just more likely that his gang was not as infamous at the Richardson’s or the Kray’s. No matter what, he was a character and made us feel very welcome in his local boozer. One pub to probably give a body swerve is The King’s Inn or, as we now like to call it, Heaven’s Waiting Room! Even the clientele in our local Wetherspoon’s pub are young in comparison.
As we headed home, we both agreed that we’d made the right decision in trying something different to the usual Dublin attractions of the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar and other such places. Plus, the next time we visit the area, we are likely to repeat the process, heading North up to Howth, which we’ve been reliably informed is very nice and well worth a visit. Has anyone been?
Well that’s another trip in the history books and up next is the surprise trip Amanda has booked for my 50th birthday…where will we be heading? I cannot wait…