Dublin: Equal Parts History and Entertainment
This past fall, I spent four months in Ireland’s capital studying abroad. Dublin cannot be described or pinned down in one or two words. It is known for its lively nightlife, friendly locals and plethora of pints but Dublin’s history is equally rich. Ireland gained its independence from Britain in 1921 in large part due to events that occurred at Kilmainham Gaol, located in Dublin. Kilmainham, an old Irish prison, is now a museum. Since it opened in 1796, it housed numerous patriots campaigning for Irish independence.
After the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, 14 of the leaders of the rebellion were taken to Kilmainham and sentenced to execution by a firing squad in the stone-breaker’s yard. This act of British brutality became the turning point in the Irish campaign for independence. It swayed public opinion dramatically to be anti-British and led to the crusade, which became the Irish War of Independence. The jail was shut down in 1924 and reopened decades later to serve as a historical museum to preserve the immense amount of history that took place behind its stone walls. As morbid as it might sound, the tours are incredibly interesting and packed with information. The old jail is a must-see for anyone even remotely history in Irish history.
As for Dublin’s entertainment hot spots–not too far away from Kilmainham is the Guinness Storehouse. When many people think of Ireland, they immediately think of Guinness. Its entertaining tour will really give you your money’s worth.
I went to Ireland thinking Guinness was a disgusting, thick, malty beverage that you are either born liking or not liking. I was completely wrong. The Guinness in Ireland tastes completely different from that in the United States–at least in my opinion and those of my friends who visited me there. It is immensely better and should be at least tried once by anyone who visits the country.
The Guinness Storehouse gives an amusing account of the history of the infamous beer brand, with tons of visuals, movies, hands-on activities and taste tests. Best of all, save your ticket and head up to the Gravity Bar high above Dublin at the end of the tour for a full 360 degree view of the lively city and a free pint of Guinness!