After a rather hectic period of time, my husband and I decided to take a weekend trip to just chill and relax. We decided to head to Dublin! Why Dublin? Well, for one, we have never been to Ireland and also we would like to see for ourselves the beauty of this country that many of our friends had proclaimed, hence the decision to explore the capital of Ireland - Dublin!
We chose to stay in the Temple Bar district of Dublin due to its close proximity and convenience to getting to most of the other places that we wanted to visit. We were quite surprised at how drastically different this district was during the day and at night. When we were there when night falls, the Temple Bar district, which has the highest density of pubs in Dublin city, was a lively and vibrant area with loads of people (locals and holiday-makers) enjoying their pints of beer, dancing to the roaring and rhythmic sounds of Irish music played in the pubs and basically just immersing themselves in this lively atmosphere! However, when we walked through this same district the next morning, the streets were cleared of people, with literally no signs of the all the partying that had occurred the night before! Nevertheless, it was quite a joy to walk on the empty narrow cobblestone streets and admire the beauty of the charismatic architecture that lined the streets. In fact, the other parts of Dublin city was equally quiet on this weekend morning and we really felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. I was also secretly glad of this situation as I can finally take as much photographs as I want without the need to be on the constant lookout for potential photo-bombers! :)
|Temple Bar district at night|
|Temple Bar district in the morning|
The truth to be said, a weekend in Dublin was too short a duration to cover all the interesting places spanned across the city but we were quite satisfied with just having the opportunity to walk about and enjoy the beautiful sights of the city. It was also a good way to “declutter” our minds as well as to recharge ourselves both physically and mentally before we return to the challenges waiting for us back home.
Of all the places that we visited, the visit to Kilmainham Gaol Museum left the deepest impression on us. Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison, currently functions as a museum and is a witness to Ireland’s turbulent past in its struggle for independence from Britain. It was the place where many Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned or executed - a sobering reminder that freedom came with a price.
|Interior of Kilmainham Gaol|
|The rows of prison cells|
During the tour, our guide gave us brief explanation of the harsh and inhumane conditions that the prisoners were subjected to through most of the 19th century: there was this big issue of overcrowding in the prison due to two factors: (a) the use of the prison as a holding depot for prisoners sentenced to be transported to Australia, and (b) a significant increase in the number of prisoners, most of whom were women and children caught for begging or stealing food during the Great Famine. As a result, there was widespread of diseases and the prisoners suffered from poor health and hygiene. This piece of historical information, coupled with a tour of the claustrophobic prison cells, execution sites and the prison on the whole, painted a rather dim picture of how horrible it must be like being trapped in the prison at that time. Tho we were filled with many mixed emotions and a heavy heart at the end of the tour, we felt that it was important to have a good understanding of Ireland’s history in order to appreciate their culture better and in turn make our trip more meaningful.
All in all, this has been a rather enriching and yet relaxing trip. We would certainly want to explore the other parts of Ireland in the future! :)