Two weeks ago, Jon and I celebrated the wedding of good friends in the rolling countryside just south of Dublin. Luck was with us and the weather that weekend was sunny and mild, and while most of the weekend was spent at wedding festivities (such that I didn’t get a chance to eat out in local restaurants), the parts of County Wicklow we saw were so pretty that I thought I’d do a brief write-up anyway.
We spent one afternoon walking around the small town of Rathdrum, whose highlight is McGowan’s Lounge Bar, which is connected to the Cartoon Inn. The Lounge Bar entrance is labeled with signs telling you that Michael Collins was filmed here, and the Cartoon Inn portion is amusingly wall-papered with old cartoons. Rathdrum used to host the Rathdrum International Cartoon Festival, you see.
There’s not much to see in town, so if you’re in the area, I’d skip Rathdrum itself and visit nearby Avondale House instead. I’ve visited Ireland only twice, but based on both trips, I agree with everyone who says Ireland’s beauty lies in the countryside, not in its towns and cities.
Jon and I didn’t like our B&B (see below for more deets), but I will say the full Irish breakfast hit the spot the morning after the wedding reception.
With a couple of hours to kill before our flight from Dublin back to London, Jon and I enjoyed the sunshine and people-watching in St. Stephen’s Green and then walked down the unimaginably-crowded, chain-store-packed Grafton Street. We ended our time in Dublin by paying 9 euros each to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College Library, which was an underwhelming experience. I knew going in that the Book was a really old, illuminated Bible, so if I’d thought about it a little more, I probably could’ve predicted that it’d be disappointing. After all, I remember seeing the much-older Dead Sea Scrolls for free at the New York Public Library, and there was no shortage of illuminated manuscripts for perusal at the university library when I was young ‘un. So yeah – seeing four pages of the Book of Kells – not worth our 18 euros.
Overall, I’d love to return to Wicklow and see more of the countryside. So the next time you’re planning a trip to Dublin, schedule some time in Wicklow, too.
Jon and I stayed at a small B&B near Rathdrum called Birchdale House. It was inexpensive (70 euros a night) and close to the wedding venue. But I wouldn’t recommend it. When Jon and I arrived, the B&B owner told us he’d accidentally double booked the room we’d reserved and so we’d have to take a room without a bathroom. He knocked 10 euros off the price, but I’d rather he’d called us earlier to tell us about the mistake so that we could have chosen to stay somewhere else. Our room was tiny; the sheets were scratchy; and overall, the room still wasn’t worth paying 60 euros a night for.
If you haven’t rented a car and instead have taken the train from Dublin to Arklow, I’d highly recommend Aughrim Cabs to get around once you’re in that part of Wicklow. They were super reliable and friendly, and although most of our cab rides were 20-minutes long, the fare always seemed to be 10 euros.
We used a taxi between Dublin City Center and Dublin Airport, costing about 25 euros for the 30-minute ride. There’s an express bus that costs just 12 euros return, but we were too short on time to figure out where the bus stops were.
For the London-Dublin route, there are a million flights to choose from. Jon and I used RyanAir because Stansted is handy to Liverpool Street station, near both our offices. Our tickets cost £75 each for a return ticket. From a cost perspective, there’s no reason *not* to return to Ireland soon.
- To read about my only other visit to Ireland (embarrassingly, five years ago), click here.