Photography, Road Trips

Dublin in black and white

We wrapped our time in Ireland in Dublin.

A river runs through Dublin

You might think we’d start there. After all, our flight in did land at the Dublin airport. Yet we immediately boarded a train and hightailed it to Galway. It’s how Margaret wanted it, as after all that’s where her family is from! And as we looked over all the places we could visit across Ireland, places within driving distance of Galway kept edging out places in Dublin.

But we knew that at the end of our trip we knew we wouldn’t want to rush back to Dublin just to board a plane. We would want to regroup for a day or two first. So we booked a hotel in Dublin.

We had been having a truly amazing trip, with outstanding experience after outstanding experience. Our astounding luck had to run out sometime, and it did in Dublin. Nothing truly bad happened. It was merely an average time. After the fabulous experiences we’d been having, average was quite a comedown.

What’s a trip to Dublin without visiting the Guinness mother ship at St James’s Gate? It was the first thing we did. For 20 euros you can take a tour. But they don’t actually brew Guinness here anymore; the place is more like a museum now. A very noisy and crowded museum, from which you can exit only through an enormous gift shop. At least we got to pour our own Guinness as part of the tour, though it was nearly impossible to find a quiet corner to sit down and drink it. If you’re going to Dublin, pass on this.


On our way back to the hotel we had dinner at the oldest pub in all of Ireland (or so it promoted itself). The food was great but the service was criminally slow. After 45 minutes of waiting to pay our bill, both of us seriously considering simply stiffing the joint, our waiter finally passed by. He obviously and deliberately ignored me. I had to block his way and almost force him to take my credit card.

Inside the oldest pub in Ireland

The next morning we thought we’d go see the Book of Kells at nearby Trinity College. It cost 20 euros to get in — and the mile-long line moved glacially. Worse, photography was prohibited inside. Unwilling to spend our whole morning in a queue to see something we couldn’t photograph, we walked around campus for a minute to process our disappointment and then moved on.

Trinity University

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Unsure what to do with our day, we looked at Google Maps on our phones and saw that a large park wasn’t too far away. We decided to walk over and rest for a while. We passed through a shopping district on our way.

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Dublin street scene

Dublin street scene

The park is called St. Stephen’s Green, and it is lovely and quiet, a sharp contrast to how we’d experienced Dublin so far. We spent hours here, walking and holding hands, talking and taking photographs. We left feeling refreshed. I’ll share some color photos I took here in an upcoming post.

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St. Stephen's Green

St. Stephen's Green

St. Stephen's Green

St. Stephen's Green

It was midafternoon and our stomachs were insistently reminding us it had been too long since our last meal. We reluctantly left the park and found a pub. It had a long row of Guinness taps, and Margaret asked the bartender if she could photograph them. “Sure,” he said, “but would you rather I photographed you pouring a pint at one?” Whaaaat? Absolutely! Unfortunately, those photos are in Margaret’s camera. But it was another highlight of our Dublin stay.

The Spire in Dublin

So Dublin wasn’t a washout. We have some good memories. I’ll share a couple more in upcoming posts.


19 thoughts on “Dublin in black and white

  1. Michael McNeill says:

    A good honest review of your experiences, Jim. I’m no expert on Dublin, but I know my way around well enough. From here in the North, it’s now a very expensive place to visit, eat out etc. St Stephen’s Green, as you say, is beautiful and tranquil, a welcome oasis from the hustle and bustle of Grafton Street, which you soon tire of. I think you made the right call re. Book of Kells. It’s one book (obviously), behind glass and as you probably know is kept in a low-light environment to avoid deterioration – they open it at a different page every day. I was disappointed. The best part (for me) was seeing the Old Library and the Long Room on the way out.

    And as you noted, service levels in Ireland are very different from the US – sometimes quaintly different, other times annoyingly poor :)


    • We would have liked to see the Old Library, but the only way we could was to wait in queue to see the Book of Kells, and even then no photography in the Old Library. Nuts to it.

      We quickly got used to the more leisurely pace of service at restaurants in Ireland, especially longish waits for someone to collect our money. We discovered that generally if we were ready to go we could pay our bill at the bar and nobody blinked. But this Dublin bar — oy.


  2. DougD says:

    Well, I guess a mixed result is better than a poor result. If you had watched the BBC series “Oz and James Drink to Britain” you would have known to skip the Guinness theme park. I still recommend watching the series though if you have time, we watched it on YouTube last winter. :)


  3. Evangelina07 says:

    I like your pictures. Smart choice to shoot in b & w.
    I was just in Dublin a few months ago, shot in color though. Brought back nice memories.


    • Thank you! I took my digital Canon S95 to Ireland for color work but I love film and decided to bring T-Max 400 and my Nikon N2000 with a 35mm lens for b/w work. These photos are from September, when we made our trip. We spent two weeks, and I shot 1300 photos, so it’s taken me a while to write about all the places we saw!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Evangelina07 says:

        I shoot now only in digital but there is something about film. Glad you did it. Keep posting, I am curious what else you all have.


        • Evangelina07 says:

          Oh I will definetly do that. Awesome, thanks. I am always curious to see how other people see the world. Thanks for the link.
          I just started my travel blog and only have written four posts/ trips so far but one post is in the works, will be posted in a couple of days. It’s about Peru. Photographers delight, I am telling you.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Ron says:

    Great shots. Dublin is my least favorite place in Ireland, for all the reasons you name. Absolutely agree about the Guinness shrine/theme park. Better to spend two hours in a pub in Temple Bar.


    • Yeah, my advice to anyone headed to Ireland is to focus on places that aren’t Dublin. Not that Dublin is terrible, but that there’s so much in Ireland that is flat out amazing that if you see only Dublin you’ve missed the best of Ireland.


  5. Pingback: Strolling through St. Stephen’s Green | Down the Road

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