The sailing distance from Belfast to Dublin is around 105nm. With a light south-westerly breeze, we decided to make the most of the calmer weather and sail directly to Dublin. A strong southerly wind was forecast the following afternoon so we didn’t want to get trapped in another anchorage waiting for weather so unfortunately we missed a few towns and anchorages along the way.
Lack of sleep even on one overnighter is draining, so rather than arrive too early at Dublin, after 80nm and at 1am we pulled into a small anchorage at the Skerries about 23nm north of Dublin. The seas were absolutely flat with zero wind making night entry much easier. We slept solidly for five hours – bliss!
Early next morning making sure to make good use of the flood tide, we entered Dublin Bay. Staying well clear of the frequent ferries and ships departing and entering the busy harbour, we called VTS on VHF12 to request clearance into the port limits. A friendly voice gave us the okay to continue up the River Liffey to the Poolbeg Yacht Club located on the south bank.The Poolbeg Yacht Club doesn’t attract as many transient cruisers as Dun Laoghaire Marina, located further out on Dublin Bay’s southern side. But it is closer to the centre of Dublin. Most of the berths and mooring field are taken up by local yacht club members, and we met a few at the bar our first night. As they sipped their Guinness and watched a reply of their Irish lad Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather fight, they also asked about our travels from Australia. The club has showers, toilets, washing machines, a decent bar and welcoming staff. Opposite the Yacht Club on the northern bank of the River Liffey is the busy Dublin Port. Cruise ships, ferries, and other commercial vessels bring hundreds of tourists from Europe and the UK to Dublin. Each morning the rumblings of propellers and vibrations from thrusters only metres away from our hull shake us out of bed as the ships manoeuvre in the narrow river.
The yacht club is a five minute walk from the village of Ringsend, and a further 20 minute walk to the centre of Dublin. A walk through Ringsend Park to a bus stop across the road from St Patrick’s you can catch the number 1 bus right into town for 2 Euro. With Blue Heeler safely tied up on the outer dock, and with Australian song-writer Paul Kelly’s “Every F—-g City” playing in my head, our first port-of-call was a walk through the streets of Temple Bar.
The spread of gentrification in Dublin is obvious, but the city still retains its grittiness. Temple Bar is such an area; once derelict and filled with all sorts of interesting characters, nowadays the pubs are filled with hundreds of less interesting tourists listening to renditions of “Dirty Old Town” or “Irish Rover”. While the cobble roads are flat, the drink prices are steep so if you’re just in it for a beer, it pays to find a pub further out of the area (For a sample of Dublin from the ’90s, I recommend re-watching movie “The Commitments”. Great movie!).
Despite a €70 billion euro bank bailout in 2010, and after a few years of austerity measures, Ireland has managed to exit the bailout, thanks no doubt to the support of tourist dollars. Ireland is now the fastest growing economy in the euro zone for a fourth straight year. It will be interesting to see the impact Brexit will have on Northern Ireland as they exit the EU while Ireland remains.
During our stay we bought a two-day Dublin Pass which gave us discounted entry to a variety of tourist hot-spots and a ride aboard a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus which circles the city. A humorous driver talked as he drove, pointing out various buildings along the way. He even pointed out the cemetery where the inventor of the crossword puzzle was buried, saying “I don’t remember his name, but if you want to visit his grave you can find him four down and three across”. Ha!
The Easter Rising of 1916 took place in Dublin. The GPO (General Post Office) was used as the headquarters for the Irish Republicans and a trip to the GPO Witness History Exhibition is well worth the visit to learn more about this event. Further to the east along the River Liffey is the EPIC Emigration Museum; also worth a visit to find out about the people that left a troubled Ireland seeking better lives abroad. The exhibition also identifies the many people around the world who have Irish ancestry. A surprising list to be sure! Even Barrack Obama’s great, great, great grandfather was from Ireland!
Across the road at the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and Famine Exhibition, our guide tells us more about the famine and takes us through a typical ‘coffin ship’, a replica of the vessels used to transport the poor and destitute Irish to other lands. Finally to fill our day, a visit to Christchurch Cathedral, then it’s back at Temple Bar for another pint and a rendition of “Irish Rover” before catching the bus to Ringsend.
Not far from the Rory Gallagher walk is The Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum Experience is new to Temple Bar and you can go there with your Dublin Pass. Tourists are guided through a working rehearsing and recording studio, and learn a little more about contemporary Irish bands along the way. You even get the chance to play a guitar or drums in the studio.
But of course a trip to Dublin would not be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Promoted as the most popular tourist destination in Dublin, the self-guided exhibition shows the process of producing the black stuff, famous for its flavour and texture. At the end of the visit you’re invited to pour your own pint and drink it up on the 7th floor with 360 views of Dublin. You’ll often see trucks of Guinness (“silver bullets” as they’re known) making their journey across town.
A trip to the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street isn’t too far from the GPO. Your taste buds will be jumping for joy as the smooth taste of Jameson’s superior triple-distilled whiskey flows down your throat. But the jumping stops when you have the opportunity to subject them to the comparative tastes of the smoky double-distilled Johnny Walker and the second-rate single-distilled Jack Daniels! As you depart the tour you are welcome to stay and enjoy a free Jameson Daily Grog which will have your taste-buds jumping for joy again!
To finish off our brief visit to Dublin, we spent a quiet day walking around Trinity College, the Museums, the National Library and W.B. Yeats exhibition, a walk through St Stephens Green to read all the signs regarding the Easter Rising, then to Merrion Square passing Oscar Wilde’s house and statue before ambling back to the Poolbeg Yacht Club. Next stop, Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales.
Time for a pint! Sláinte!