How to start with this one? At the moment I’m sitting in a café in Columbia University in New York. I figured if I’m going to be sitting in a café writing on my laptop I should do it with some people who might exude some brilliance in my direction.
I first travelled to Ireland around 5 years ago on a family holiday and it always stayed in my memory as a place I wanted to return to and visit the places that were missed the first time. That first holiday neatly covered the lower half of the country so it only made sense to cover the northern half this time. Growing up in the 90’s I had a pretty good idea that for a good part of history the whole northern half of the country was one big shitstorm and my dad, having done some trips in the middle of that, painted a pretty bleak picture of what to expect if things hadn’t improved much. Luckily knowing some friends who had lived there I knew this wasn’t the case and I went into Ireland expecting to have a 2 week party.
Arriving in Dublin I was absolutely scattered. For some reason, probably just from travelling so long, I was still having on and off insomnia. I think when you don’t have a set sleep routine your body just puts itself into a ‘fuck you, I just won’t let you sleep then’ mode. Luckily when I did get to sleep I slept well so I just decided to roll with things and see how it went. This was my second time in Dublin and there were some pretty big attractions I didn’t see the last time I was in town. Right away I got into things and headed for the Guinness factory, which was incredible and would recommend as the first thing to do to help get into the local spirit. At the top of the factory is a bar where you can have a pint of Guinness (or 2 if your ticket machine screws up like mine did) and just take a break and admire the view. After this with a bit of cheer under my belt I had a wander down the river and explored Trinity College to wind down the afternoon. Back in the hostel I met a couple of Aussie fellas (surprise) and we had a good night out in the bars watching football. The best part about the pubs in Ireland? Every pub is an Irish pub.
Moving on from Dublin I hired a car (see my vent about Europcar at the end of Ireland) and hit the highway heading north to Derry. On the way to Derry around 45 minuted north of Dublin I stopped at one of the coolest prehistoric sites I’ve ever been to, called Newgrange. Newgrange is made of up dozens of smaller prehistoric ruins scattered over a huge area of land in a river valley. The ruins which consist of houses, ceremonial buildings and burial mounds have been dated to at least 6000BC and it could easily take a whole day to explore the area if you have the time. The most incredible site of all is the biggest burial mound. It’s around 80m across and sits on top of the highest hill in the area. On the shortest day of the year sunlight beams down a tunnel leading to the centre chamber of the mound and fills the whole space with light. There are also blocks of rock that weigh up to 10 tonnes that have been transported from 30km away. Keep in mind this was about 4000 years before the wheel was invented so it’s basically the Irish version of the pyramids, built 500 years before the pyramids. I guess that means they win right?