over two and a half days in Dublin, i managed to fall head over heels for this place. i made a longish layover between Addis Ababa and Washington DC into a slightly longer one, booked a B&B near the wharf and researched local hikes.
i meandered, i ate, i lolled. i breathed in the cold air, enjoyed early, quiet breakfasts in a Christmas ornament-strewn dining room, sipped milky tea by a fire while searching for my family’s crest in a book of Ireland’s most well-known, and generally eased into the holiday by enjoying my own company first and foremost. it was worth it.
though tempted to follow the tourist’s map, i indulged in destination-free wanderings. i walked right up to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and circled it, soaking it up from all angles. i approached Dublin castle, passing through its gardens and teetering on cobblestone walks.
joyfully, i hiked Howth’s Head from Sutton into old Howth, stopping, breathless from the views, every few feet, or so it seemed.
there were winding trails with wild flowers, storm clouds over thrashing waves, unguarded cliffs that dropped away to rocky peaks below.
truly, i’ve never been so moved by a place–the wind, the chill, the mist, the honesty. i hiked in the mud and rain for 5+ hours. soaked feet notwithstanding, i could have hiked for 5 more.
the lovely town of Howth, newly popular thanks to a recent metro rail extension, gave me a warm welcome with seafood chowder, brown bread with Irish butter, and a pint of Guinness.
and one more night in Dublin did me well, before departing. Ireland had long been a dream destination of mine, and I was grateful to the point of tears for having made it, and for exploring it on my own; for making it mine, in some small way.
thank you, Ireland, for an unforgettable first trip.
i’m raising a pint of Guinness to many more.