Irish dancing, rowdy sing-a-longs, parades and a pint of Guinness – the Irish have always known how to party and celebrate St Patrick’s Day. This year I was able to celebrate alongside them, in none other than Dublin, Ireland.
Writing this post is bittersweet for me. Being born on St Patrick’s Day, I have always wanted to celebrate my birthday in Ireland. This year I finally made it to Dublin and a few months ago, I was beyond excited. I had my outfits planned out, a list of sites to see, I even purchased a really cute St Patrick’s Day headband. I was all set to go.
Fast forward to two weeks prior to departure and my excitement level went from 1000 to 1 in a matter of moments. After two years of endless fun, living together, travelling together, Luca has made the decision to start his own business, doing so without being in a relationship. I was devastated and the idea of spending my birthday in Dublin heartbroken was not something I fancied. The trip was already booked and Luca was very much set on us still going, convinced we’d have a nice time despite the breakup, and unsure of when I’d get another opportunity to go, I agreed. Here’s how it went.
What Went Wrong Did
For two years, Luca and I travelled with ease. We always lucked out with weather, food, accommodation, even activities we chose to do. Well, I don’t know what the universe was trying to tell us, but the second we travelled as a non-couple, things started to go wrong. I’ll explain more in the sections below, but let’s just say that the luck of the Irish did not rub off on our final trip together.
For me, it was very similar to London. Busy streets with a mixture of historic and modern architecture and a lively atmosphere where there’s always something to do. The only slight difference I noticed was more pubs and colder weather. Freezing weather actually. The minute I stepped off the plane, the icy winds cut through my body, and as I looked down at my ripped skinny jeans full of holes and tears, all I could think was I am so not prepared for this weather.
We stayed at an Airbnb in Malahide, which was a twenty minute train ride from the city centre. At £150 for two nights, it was the cheapest we could find for the St Patrick’s Day weekend. The houses that lead to our Airbnb were some of the cutest I’ve ever seen. Cottages with beautiful stonework, large front yards and vibrant flowers lining the porches. I could just imagine the families inside, warm and cosy, drinking tea by a roaring fire.
Arriving at our accommodation, it wasn’t the cottage style I had been admiring during our walk, but nice nevertheless. Stepping inside, we immediately knew the majority of the rooms were being rented by travellers, with two American girls and a guy from Scotland greeting us as we passed. When it came to our room, well there’s only one way to describe it… small. Teeny tiny small. Images of the show tiny houses flashed through my mind, only this was the tiny room edition. An attic room in design, I can’t even remember how many times we bumped our heads walking from the bed to the bathroom. Not to mention the floors had some kind of lacquer on it and we almost went down a few times. You couldn’t even stand upright in the shower. I mean, the room was lovely and extremely clean, but at 160cm tall, if I can’t even stand upright, then I’m not sure who can…
Trinity College Library Reading is my version of meditation and if I’m travelling to a place that has a beautiful library or bookshop – then I’m one hundred percent there.
It had been my dream for over a year to visit this library. The minute we got off the train, I practically ran there. Tickets in hand, our tiny accommodation forgotten, I was all smiles as we approached the entrance. Well, that was until I noticed a student protest blocking the front door. I think I died a little in that moment, because I could see that I was definitely not getting inside.
Not long afterwards, devastated and in need of some luck, I found myself in a tourist shop purchasing a four leaf clover necklace. I mean, it couldn’t hurt right? And maybe it was that, or the universe feeling sorry for me, but the following day, on my actual birthday, we returned to the library, no protesters in sight and managed to get in with our original tickets. I was beyond happy.
Tivoli Graffiti Located next to Tivoli Theatre, this car park features incredible graffiti work. Every month, the car park closes for a weekend, the walls are painted black, and new artists are invited to tag the walls and share their work. What we saw was amazing and I love that there’s a dedicated space for creatives in this field to show off their talent.
We had intended to see a lot more of Dublin, but after a car drenched us in water as it drove through a puddle, and the weather -2 degrees and dropping, we opted to spend our day inside a nice warm coffee shop. Or two or three.
Where to Eat & Drink
After one restaurant had no recollection of our booking and another being unexpectedly closed for refurbishment (which I wasn’t surprised the way our luck was going), we kept our fingers crossed that we would find somewhere to eat. After fifteen minutes of walking the streets, I’m pleased to say that we did.
Acapulco Mexican cuisine at its best. The minute I stepped through the front door, I was greeted by friendly staff and a décor of colourful chairs, unique lampshades and fairy lights hanging throughout. It was such a happy and vibrant atmosphere. We ate here for lunch as they were doing all meals for €10 and we definitely got great value for money.
Balfes The perfect combination of casual dining meets French elegance. We ate here for breakfast and the restaurant was buzzing. I’d definitely recommend booking a table if you plan on visiting. The menu options were great, very healthy and portion sizes were more than enough. I’m such a sucker for a good hot chocolate and the one served here, with a hint of orange, was by far the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.
Off Beat Donuts Who needs a birthday cake when you have donuts! Having just purchased a baileys donut from The Rolling Donut, we were happily eating this ball of goodness when we walked past another donut shop. This one had crowds of people lined up, fun quotes painted on the walls, music playing and the staff looked like they were having the best time. Wanting to know what all the fuss was about we stepped inside and immediately I was in donut heaven. Needless to say, I ate more donuts in two days than I have in the last two years. My favourite – the lemon meringue.
The Yarn Amazing cocktails, cosy yet vibrant atmosphere and they even sell pizza if you’re feeling hungry. I’m not much of a drinker but I had a mixed berry spritz here and it was soooooo delicious.
Kaph When you need a little sit down and a cup of coffee then this place will do the trick. It’s small but even on St Patrick’s Day we managed to get a seat upstairs. Green tea lattes being my go to if it’s on the menu, this place definitely delivered.
St Patrick’s Day
So I’m not a huge fans of crowds. All that pushing and shoving, trying not to lose the people you’re with or get lost yourself. But I know it’s something you have to endure if you want to experience these once-in-a-lifetime events, so off to the St Patrick’s Day parade we went.
As we walked along various points of the parade route, we realised that we had highly underestimated the amount of people who would be watching the parade. It was snowing and seriously cold, so we assumed that the crowds wouldn’t be very big – rookie mistake. There were people everywhere! Crowding around the barricades, standing on building ledges, bins and even plant pots just to get a glimpse of the festivities. I managed to see a few marching bands and floats, but we definitely got there too late in the day to really see what was going on. So, off to a bar we went and in all honestly, I was quite happy having a drink in the warmth whilst watching people decked out in green pass by. It was more the St Patrick’s Day atmosphere I was after, rather than the parades and activities, which I most certainly got.
All ‘things that went wrong’ aside, I still had a nice time and I’m glad that I can finally tick this off my bucket list. Next up for me, solo travel as a single independent woman and I can’t wait to keep you posted on how those trips go.
How do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? Anyone been celebrated in Ireland before?