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A pretty dawn of soft grays and blush pinks fell over Dublin as I flew into the city, and upon touching down on the tarmac I saw hundreds of bunnies hopping around in the airport grass– this combination of beauty and slightly odd but very endearing charm was the perfect welcome to a city that has an abundance of both characteristics.

I couldn’t sleep on the plane, but I wasn’t tired at all as I got my luggage, bought a 3-day Leap card (a convenient bus pass for the city) and hopped on a bus to my family-friend’s apartment near Heuston Station. That first Sunday in Europe I was awake for at least 30 hours straight, but the excitement of travel and my determination to beat jet lag kept me moving just fine.

  Stunning ceiling in the foyer of the National Museum of History and Archaeology

Stunning ceiling in the foyer of the National Museum of History and Archaeology

The first major site I visited was the National Museum of History and Archaeology, which was absolutely amazing. It houses several bog bodies, which are preserved corpses from people who died thousands of years ago. The bodies were fascinating– visible stab wounds, a lock of red hair– but also incredibly haunting– there was one curled hand so lifelike I swore its fingers could stretch at any moment, and one face that seemed to be frozen in suffering.

The museum also had among its collections delicate Celtic gold jewelry, Viking skeletons, and Egyptian artifacts. It is definitely one of the coolest museums I’ve ever visited.

  A close-up of a cell in historic Kilmainham Gaol

A close-up of a cell in historic Kilmainham Gaol

Monday morning, I embraced the spirit of Dublin by bracing the rainy weather and walking to Kilmainham Gaol. It was amazing to learn about the bloody and tragic history of the Irish independence movement from a place where so many leaders of that movement suffered and were even executed. In the connected museum was a “Last Words” exhibit honoring martyrs of the cause, and there was one particular letter from James Fisher to his mother on the night before he died that was particularly heartbreaking.

  Looking inside the peep-hole of Grace Gifford’s old cell, you can see a beautiful painting of the Madonna she created with smuggled paints. Grace Gifford married her fiancé Joseph Plunkett only hours before his execution for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Looking inside the peep-hole of Grace Gifford’s old cell, you can see a beautiful painting of the Madonna she created with smuggled paints. Grace Gifford married her fiancé Joseph Plunkett only hours before his execution for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

That night, I visited the Cobblestone Pub for authentic Irish music! It was fun to see dozens of locals all with different instruments (and a glass of beer each, of course) sitting in a circle and playing upbeat, beautiful music.

  Located in one of Dublin’s oldest neighborhoods, the charming Cobblestone Pub has live music every night.

Located in one of Dublin’s oldest neighborhoods, the charming Cobblestone Pub has live music every night.

Definitely worth seeing is Merrion Square, home of the Oscar Wilde Statue. While St. Stephen’s Green gets all the buzz, Merrion Square is serene and rather lovely. Oscar Wilde lounges wryly on a rock, looking stylish and slightly sloshed– the friend I visited in Dublin said she stuck a “Yes!” button on him when the referendum on gay marriage occurred a few months ago there, and I like to think Oscar would be pleased with the more open-minded attitude of the city now.

  Oscar Wilde Statue in Merrion Square

Oscar Wilde Statue in Merrion Square

Even with a student discount, Dublin Castle was a little overpriced– however, a guided tour is definitely worth the few extra euros as opposed to a self-guided one. I enjoyed seeing the oldest part of Dublin in the medieval excavation site– it was cold and damp and smelled of old earth and older stone. The church was also impressive of course, as well as the beautiful interior design inside the “castle” itself.

Located inside Dublin Castle’s grounds is the spectacular Chester Beatty Library. It was created from the mind-bogglingly huge private book collection of Chester Beatty, who collected gorgeous manuscripts from all over the world: exquisite calligraphy in Muslim prayer-books, richly painted images in ancient bibles, and beautifully illustrated Japanese surimono prints. My favorite exhibits were the ones that displayed finely carved covers of ancient books, with filigree detailing and embossed binding. The place really is a bibliophile’s dream.

Dublin is a vibrant city infused with plenty of charm alongside its historic sights. I snapped a lot of cute and colorful photos of things that caught my eye while exploring the city, from the quirky to the beautiful. I just wanted to share the things that made me smile, as well as some fun shops and food places to boot!

The photos above are from Folkster, the cutest clothes shop I saw while in Dublin! The pieces were stunning and vintage-inspired, and offset by lovely home decor. It took all my willpower not to buy something (I’m on a budget) but I’m definitely going back one day.

 

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I visited a cool coffee shop called Accents. While the chai latte I ordered was suboptimal (apparently iced coffee only came to Dublin 6 months ago, and the chai latte probably arrived with it– if you order these drinks, you’ll likely not get what you’re expecting) but the shop was interesting because it has shelves filled with books you can read while sipping coffee. There was also a really large map (pictured above) that contains tacks representing where each tack-wielding customer came from! It was amazing to see the tacks cover so much of the world, from small islands in the Pacific to remote Siberia.

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