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Attractions, sights aplenty in Ireland

Allan Joseph | Thursday, August 30, 2012

DUBLIN – Day 1 of this trip was pretty low-key. We got situated in Dublin, took some photos for the Irish Insider and slept for the first time in nearly 36 hours.

Day 2, on the other hand, was a complete whirlwind.

We started our day with a tour of Leinster House, the home of Ireland’s Parliament, known as the Oireachtas. Irish Sen. Mark Daly showed us around the beautiful building and steeped us in Irish history, which is way more intertwined with the United States and Notre Dame than you’d expect. Of course, our Domer tour group was more than happy to hear that.

After leaving Parliament, we strolled through beautiful St. Stephen’s Green, once the recreational playground of the Guinness family (yes, that Guinness family) before they donated the area to the city. The Green sits next to Grafton Street, Dublin’s shopping hub. Street performers abound on the pedestrian avenue, and they’re actually pretty good. Amidst the trendy shops and cafes, there was a sight both out of place and oddly familiar: an Emerald Isle Classic merchandise shop. Grafton Street was, as you might expect, packed to the gills with Americans sporting Notre Dame and Navy attire.

A brisk walk later, we found ourselves in the middle of the Temple Bar District, which is already preparing to host what will undoubtedly be a Notre Dame tailgate for the ages. The narrow, pub-lined streets will be filled with Irish fans, and I can’t imagine the local establishments are complaining too much. There are signs across the city promoting the game, but nowhere more so than in the Temple Bar District. The weekend is gearing up to be an incredible party.

Of course, hunger struck by midday. We ate at the highly-recommended Queen of Tarts, and came away highly recommending it ourselves. If you’re ever in Dublin, make your way there.

After swinging by the medieval Christ Church Cathedral, we headed towards the Guinness Storehouse. Of course, the Storehouse lived up to its already-high expectations. The Gravity Bar at the top of the facility has stunning panoramic views of the city, and running into a former Observer managing editor was pretty cool too.

A walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Park preceded dinner in Ballsbridge, and we finished our day with former Observerites, other Notre Dame students and some Navy servicemen in the Temple Bar District.

This week has been marketed as the “trip of a lifetime.” Now, at long last, I know exactly why.

There’s more to come from Ireland. Tomorrow, two more reporters will join us. We’ll visit the extended pep rally at the O2 Arena, and we’ll prepare for the imminent football season as well. There’s plenty more to come from Dublin. Stay tuned.