Day 14: Dublin, Ireland and Day 15: DUB to ORD

Friday, March 25, 2022

Friday was our full day in Dublin, and unbelievably, our last full day of our trip (not counting the travel day home!). I was happy our flight into Dublin on Thursday was early enough to allow us a good chunk of time to start exploring, because ~1 1/2 days in Dublin is really not quite enough.

As I mentioned, our hotel was not located in downtown, but rather over near the airport. We got up and got ready, and then took a taxi the ~25 minutes from the hotel to downtown Dublin.

We had the driver drop us off near Trinity College and the Book of Kells, which was going to be our first destination. It was another beautiful morning in Ireland!!

We stopped for a few pictures along the river:

I love this picture! Very iconic Dublin, I think, from photos I had seen before.
Standing on the stone O’Connell Bridge, with the famous Ha’penny Bridge in the background.

But first first – we needed breakfast.


We wandered around a bit until we found a coffee shop that looked like a good and quick option.

It was a bit busy, so the boys ended up sitting separate from the rest of us. This picture is cute to me- it’s as if they were off traveling together on their own. 🙂

After breakfast, we headed over to Trinity College to check in for our timed tickets for the Book of Kells. Not sure of the street names here, but I thought this area of the city was neat looking with cool buildings.

A cute pic of Asher hugging grandpa:

Another cute one of the boys:

Trinity College and the Book of Kells

Trinity College is the most prestigious university in Ireland and apparently is considered one of Europe’s elite institutions. It was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500s.

My mom!

The Book of Kells

The main tourist attraction at Trinity College, besides just the pretty campus and grounds, is that the Book of Kells is housed here. This is probably actually the #1 tourist attraction in all of Dublin.

The Book of Kells is a famously illustrated version of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament. It was produced by monks in the year 800!!! It is now regarded as the greatest illuminated manuscript of all times. There is some debate over exactly where it was produced, though I think it’s widely believed to have been in Scotland. The years following its production were tumultuous, and the Book was stolen and damaged various times.

Eventually it was recovered and restored, and it now lives here, at Trinity College in Dublin.

Before we got to actually see the Book, we spent some time in the museum exhibits. (After wasting over 20 minutes having issues getting the museum-issued audio guides to work correctly!!! It was very frustrating. But after repeated troubleshooting with the museum workers, we finally got it.)

sample artistry from the pages

The exhibits display many pages from the book and explain details about the artwork and the history behind it.

The book itself is actually kept in a special display in a dark room- only one set of pages is on display for a certain amount of time, and they rotate it every so often so that no one section is exposed to the light for too long.

I don’t remember all the details, but it has to do with the facts that a) the book is SUPER old b) the pages are not paper, but rather vellum (cattle skin) and very delicate and c) the light and air can damage the material and paint. It is housed in a special climate-controlled case.

Unfortunately, they also don’t allow any photography of the actual Book of Kells, either. You have to file through in a line, so you really just get a moment to stand and gaze at the pages before they make you move on.

The museum itself is very well done with large illustrations and information. I also liked the audio guide.

Sample text on the left- the letters are famously intricate and ornate. It’s unbelievable to think what a long and painstaking process it would have been to create this all those years ago, by hand.

After viewing the book (amazing!!), the tour continues on to the Long Room library.

The Long Room

If you like books and if you like libraries, this room is basically your version of Heaven. It’s unbelievable!! It houses over 200,000 of Ireland’s oldest books, including important texts from Ireland’s history (like the copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic which kicked off the Easter Rising revolution).

As you’ll see below, it’s a two story library just lined with shelf after shelf of books. So beautiful!

It was rather crowded, unfortunately, which made it hard to get great photos. But that didn’t stop me from trying. ha!

My mom snagged a pretty good one with barely anyone else in it!

The marble busts lining the room are all great philosophers and writers of the world.

I love the look of all the wooden ladders, too.

Trinity College campus

When we finally emerged from book heaven, we just walked around the campus area a bit. It was actually a very spring-like day, and we had to stop under the flowering trees for a photo! It was exciting to see flowers blooming, too, since in Wisconsin March is still pretty much wintertime.

Merrion Square Park

Next we walked over to Merrion Square Park. It’s a “Georgian garden square” in the city centre and it’s very lovely! It is also lined with Georgian houses all along the sides.

We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but just wandered a few of the paths. It was on our way to our next destination (the National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology) anyway.

National Museum of Ireland- Archaeology

Due to our limited time in Dublin, we knew we weren’t going to have oodles of time in this museum. But these national museums are FREE! So it wasn’t a problem to just pop in briefly.

The museum had a lot of interesting areas, but we mostly wanted to check out the exhibits on the Bog Men.

The Bog Men are the human remains of some people who were apparently murdered over 2,000 years ago in NW Ireland and disposed of in a “bog”. The remains were accidentally uncovered in 2003. The astonishing thing about this is that given the “just right” conditions in the bog (cold, acidic, oxygen free), the human remains were preserved in such a way that they were basically naturally mummified.

After 2,000 years, the flesh should have been totally decayed! But it wasn’t.
Here is a kind of gross/ disturbing specimen…. but also, interesting….

We checked out several other exhibits in the museum, including a very nice special temporary exhibit about Ancient Egypt (a favorite of the boys).

St. Stephen’s Green

The museum was just up the block from St. Stephen’s Green. This is another beautiful and idyllic city park, also a famous spot in Dublin. We again didn’t linger too long, but walked through a section of the park to check it out. I’m sure it’s much nicer a little later in the season, too, with green trees!

By this point it was well past “lunch time” and we were starving! So finding food was our next priority.

First though we had to walk a pretty long way. I wanted to get us back over toward the river/ Temple Bar area, because we had our pre-travel COVID tests scheduled over in that direction later in the afternoon! So I wanted to pick a restaurant close by.

I was actually glad that we had a longer walk, because I really enjoyed just walking the streets of Dublin. This whole city center area was very lively.

I think this called Grafton Street? A big shopping area
I like this picture

Closer to the Temple Bar area… we had been here by night, but it was fun to see by day, too.

Love this!

We did peak inside THE actual Temple Bar to see if we could get lucky enough to get a table, but I think it was packed.

Oh well! We settled on a place called Quay’s Irish Restaurant.


The boys were happy because they actually served lemonade!! (And it mostly resembled the lemonade they are used to at home- rare in Ireland.)

I had one more Irish beef burger. Their beef is SO GOOD.

After our late lunch, we had some time to kill before our COVID tests. I had booked them for 5:30, hoping that this later time wouldn’t interfere much then with the rest of our plans, but still was within the testing window. I had been a little nervous before how exactly the covid testing stuff would all work out, not being familiar with Dublin, of course… but it was very easy. The downtown location was very convenient to all of the “tourist areas”. (We had to get pre-flight COVID tests in Mexico earlier in the year too, so we basically knew the drill.)

The testing site was located on the other side of the river, which was perfect, because I wanted to see and cross the Ha’Penny bridge, anyway. I also wanted some time to browse in some gift shops and pick up a few souvenirs!

Ha’penny Bridge

This iconic Dublin sight is one of its most famous. It’s basically just a bridge! But it became nicknamed the “Ha’penny” bridge because after it was built, the operator used to charge people a “halfpenny” to cross it, and the name stuck.

The Ha’penny bridge, crossing the River Liffey

The bridge holds a piece of Dublin’s history.

My mom on the Ha’penny bridge

We then made our way to the testing site, where the four of us who would be flying home got in and out super quickly for our tests.

Thankfully, results came back right away and were all negative. Would have been rather problematic if they weren’t!!

Irish Pub = Music + Beer

By this time, the sun was almost setting on our day in Dublin. It was getting close to 6 p.m. There were certainly many sights in Dublin we hadn’t seen yet, but unfortunately, not many places would be open later into the evening. I guess it just means we’ll have to return. 🙂

We decided to close out our day with some Irish music. This was one thing we really hadn’t been able to see a lot of during our trip so far. We stumbled across a pub right by the bridge crossing that had music playing, and they had room upstairs at a table looking down from the balcony. Perfect!

We were not hungry as we ate a really late lunch, but we settled in for a couple of drinks.

The music was great and we had a nice time just hanging out and chatting. So hard to believe our trip was ending!!!

Traveling with my boys= pretty much my favorite thing ever.
group shot minus my dad!
Really liked our upstairs table so the music wasn’t overpowering, but we could still hear it well.
There were a few groups of very lively tourists that were singing along and having a grand old time behind us which was fun. 🙂

I also had to make sure to get a picture with my parents!! It is not lost on me how lucky I am to be able to travel like this with my parents. I am really so grateful for these moments.

Finally, we had to go. Our flight wasn’t super early the next day, but we needed to get organized and packed up, and besides, we can only drink so much Irish beer. Ha.

We summoned a taxi on the taxi app (the Dublin taxi app was VERY convenient for us! Basically works exactly like requesting an Uber).

Back at the hotel, we arranged our bags and then got a late evening snack/dinner from the hotel restaurant. No photos as this little meal was not particularly memorable or photo-worthy. 😉

DAY 15: Saturday, March 26, 2022

Saturday morning was our travel day home! With all of the various “parts” to this trip (my sister’s in Ireland – Rome- Dublin), it kind of felt extra long, I think. But at the same time, it flew by. It’s hard to explain! It felt like ages ago that we had been on the train from Dublin to my sister’s house. We did SO MUCH in between!!

Saturday morning hotel breakfast before heading to the airport:

We had to say goodbye to my parents, who were actually going back to my sister’s house for a while longer, and then to GREECE with her family for a week! Lucky them!! The four of us flew back home to school and work.

The flight home was uneventful. The good weather stuck with us to the end. Yay!

Dublin –> Chicago:

And for posterity’s sake, the same picture I took on the way there, but now in reverse. Sad!

Back in Chicago, we hit one of the few stumbling blocks of the trip. Our luggage was delayed in coming off the plane, so we missed the bus back to Madison. Well, not fully, but we had to wait over an hour for the next one. Which, after a long day already, was not welcome news.

The only thing really in the international terminal by the luggage carousels is a pretty crappy McDonald’s, but it was food, so, that’s what we did while we waited.

With the time change, it was something like 2:30 a.m. for our bodies by this point. Yawn. We finally got on the bus and started toward home. Ivan’s sister picked us up at the bus station a couple hours later and then we finally got home for real!

And that is a wrap on Europe Trip 2022! It feels a bit surreal that this trip even actually happened. As you may know, we had originally planned an Ireland/Paris trip for March of 2020, which got cancelled literally the day before we were supposed to fly out. After several (failed) reschedules, I had to pinch myself when our plane took off out of O’Hare. I couldn’t believe that after two crazy years, we finally were able to go (on a modified version of the trip).

And let me tell you, it was worth the wait!! 🙂 This was just an unbelievable trip. From seeing my sister + family, to the incredible places we visited, to some amazing (and frankly uncharacteristic!) weather, it honestly could just not have been a better trip!!

Thank you for reading along! I hope you enjoyed experiencing it along with us. 🙂

7 thoughts on “Day 14: Dublin, Ireland and Day 15: DUB to ORD”

  1. What a lovely trip! I live in Scotland and work in Belfast, and spend a decent amount of time in Dublin for work, but I don’t feel like I really know the city well. Mostly b/c it feels too expensive to hang out in if I can’t expense my hotel/food.

    I’m so glad you had a nice time!


    1. Yes, that is part of the reason we decided to just stay near the airport- the downtown hotels are very expensive!! And since we didn’t have a lot of time there anyway, AND we had to fly out Saturday morning, it just made sense. It worked out totally fine and I’m glad we did that. Our airport hotel price was on a special sale when I booked it and it was a total steal!! It didn’t negatively affect our trip at all to have to commute out in the evening to our hotel, in this case, though normally I’d prefer to stay more in the heart of things.


  2. That library is so gorgeous!
    When we went to Ireland twelve years ago, we spent most of our time in Limerick and Galway. I remember many a cozy pub with amazing music.
    I loved these recaps! What a huge trip! It’s so interesting to read your recaps a year later – I feel like travel has changed a lot even in just one year.
    I’m feeling inspired because I want to write a recap of our August trip to Montreal, but have been losing steam. Now I know it’s not too late :)!


    1. Oh, please do recap your Montreal trip!! I want to read all about it. Montreal is on my very short list of places I want to go. I often think a couples trip there in the fall would be so charming and lovely.


  3. That library is amazing!! What a gorgeous place! You packed a lot into this final leg of your trip. I am so glad that everything went so smoothly and that you lucked out with the weather. Those blue skies are gorgeous! I am pining for that kind of spring weather, but we have like 2′ of snow on the ground here so spring feels very far off!

    It was fun to “travel vicariously” with you! I look forward to this stage of travel with our boys! And like you, we’ve traveled quite a bit with my parents. We usually have them come with us on our spring break trips. Hopefully we can resume those trips next year!


  4. You are just…so good at this, Kaelyn. I loved reading along and now I’m anxious to make it to Ireland! I agree with Lisa: it’s almost like getting to travel vicariously. And you know how I feel about books/libraries ❤


  5. You fit in a lot on your last day and definitely make me want to visit Dublin/Ireland. It sounds like such a fun place (and you had gorgeous weather!).


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