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The Science Survey

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The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

A Trip to Ireland

Come along with me through my trip throughout the beautiful country of Ireland.
Sophia Markens
The streets of Galway are covered in Irish flags, flown with pride.

One of my biggest good fortunes in this world is to be a part of a family who loves to travel. I have had the privilege of visiting many countries across the world. Experiencing a new place with a unique culture and history is my favorite thing to do. This year, the newest stamp in my passport is from the country of Ireland. 

My trip in April 2024 consisted of three days exploring Dublin, one day visiting Northern Ireland, and five days exploring the South West of Ireland with a tour group. What follows is a day by day account of my trip to many amazing parts of Ireland. I have also created an interactive map to allow you to see practically everywhere I ate, slept, and visited on my trip. 

Day 1

I touched down in Dublin Airport early Monday morning. Walking towards customs, after a six hour red-eye flight, my mother and I came to the realization that we hadn’t visited a new country since 2019. It was also nice knowing that it was my mom’s first time in the country as well, and we got to experience it together. 

My time in the Dublin Airport was very short. We made it through customs quickly and both of my checked bags came out immediately. Wanting to get to our hotel, we hopped into a cab where our charming cab driver — Dublin born and raised — pointed out the different areas we passed. 

We found our hotel (Chancery Hotel) to be perfectly located — on a quiet street right behind the city’s castle, but only a short distance from the busy parts of town. While my mother and I usually waste no time when traveling, we decided that we needed a slow day to simply walk around the city. After a nap, we strolled around exploring the city for the first time. Eventually, of course, hunger set in, and we decided it was time for our first Irish meal. 

We ended up dining at Bewley’s Grafton Street, which we later learned is often considered a Dublin landmark. After a quick meal, we took some time to just casually walk around and explore Dublin. We strolled through St. Stephen’s Green Park and the shopping center with the same name. 

Most of our rambling that day was on the South Side of the River Liffey, but near the end of the afternoon, we did cross a bridge to the Northside. Something that my mother and I immediately noticed on our walk was the abundance of Butlers Chocolate Cafes, a Dublin chain. My mother had been recommended to go to to Butlers before we left on our trip by a friend with an Irish husband. When we saw one a block into the Northside, we decided this was our chance to try out this local institution.We ordered both their signature Butler’s hot chocolate and a dark hot chocolate to see if it was worth the hype. Both drinks were heavenly, and just what we needed before heading back to our hotel. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that we got a free chocolate truffle along with every drink we ordered.  We ended up back at Butler’s several other times during our trip to get more delicious truffles, as well as what we discovered were their excellent mochas.

After briefly taking a rest back at our hotel, we went back out to have our first dinner in Ireland. While we didn’t have an Irish dinner, eating at the British restaurant The Ivy, I was able to embrace the Irish drinking age and legally order my first drink! After having a nice dessert of an apple tart and a cleverly named “Irish Bomber” (a melting chocolate bombe with ice cream), we put an end to an amazing first day in Ireland.

Day 2

This vacation marked an exciting time in my life, the end of the college process. At this point, I was officially committed to my future school, which meant no more essays, no more anxious waiting, and most importantly no more college visits. To celebrate this of course, on our first full day in Dublin we decided to visit Trinity College Dublin!

Trinity is Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious institution. As the University holds a lot of history for the country, you are able to sign up for historical walking tours throughout the campus. The tour, led by current TCD students, takes you through the history of the institution. At the end of the tour, you are able to visit the college’s beautiful library, as well as the ‘Book of Kells Experience,’ showcasing their most valued artifact.

Day 3

As excited as we were to visit the Republic of Ireland, my mother and I still longed to see some of Northern Ireland, the region of the Island that remains a UK territory. That is why we signed up for a bus tour that would take us up to Belfast and part of the northern coast.

The drive up was astonishing, as it was the first time I got to see the beautiful nature of the island. The most exciting part was not only seeing an abundance of cows and sheep, but a handful of baby animals. As it turns out, we lucked out by coming towards the end of ‘lambing season,’ which is the period in February-April during which time farmers arrange for lambs to be born.  

When we got to Belfast, we were given the option of either visiting the Belfast Titanic Museum or taking a Black Taxi Tour, a political tour that takes you throughout the city. Wanting to actually see Belfast and learn of its history we opted for the latter. True to the name, each tour is in an old-fashioned black taxi, and driven by a native of Belfast who lived through the political turbulence that beset Ireland in the 20th century. 

The tour takes you through the “Troubles,” which heavily afflicted Belfast. For those who have blocked out their sophomore year World History class, the Troubles was a thirty year period of ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to 1998. There was major tension of Protestant versus Catholics, and the Irish versus British identity. As the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast saw most of the violence of the time. I urge everyone to read a little bit into it to get a better understanding of the history and current state of the region.

Each tour is slightly different, as every driver bases their tour on their experiences and the stories that they have to tell. These drivers were once actually taxi drivers who both witnessed and struggled under the violence that rampaged throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland for years. 

Throughout the tour, we saw political artwork, murals, and graffiti. Of the many issues represented by artwork throughout the city, one of the most recurrent was for the liberation of Palestine. As it turns out, Ireland, along with Northern Ireland, is one of the most pro-Palestinian countries in the world. A huge reason for this is that the Irish people relate to the struggles of the Palestinian people, seeing parallels in their conflict with Britain. In 1980, Ireland was the first country to call for Palestinian statehood, and that solidarity remains, especially in Northern Ireland as the conflict in Gaza continues. 

One of the most shocking things to see and learn during this tour was that while things are largely peaceful between the Protestants and Catholics, the gate, known as the Peace Wall, that separates the communities, is still up, and it closes every night. Still, most people we met said that things are relatively peaceful, as those who lived through the conflict want nothing more than to leave it in the past.  

Not only did our tour guide educate us regarding the history of Northern Ireland, but he gave us his insight to what the future of the country may be. ‘The Troubles’ mainly came to an end in the late 1990s through the Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement. The agreement, which was voted into place by the citizens of Northern Ireland, helped to set up a new government that represented both Nationalist and Unionists, gave more power to the people of Northern Ireland, and allowed citizens to hold citizenship of both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. While the peace agreement affirmed that Northern Ireland is a part of the UK, it allows for the possibility of Northern Ireland rejoining the Republic of Ireland, if both the majority of the North and Republic support such action. 

As it turns out many people, including our driver, believe the possibility of unification is in the near future. With the Catholic population steadily increasing and Brexit occurring (the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union), the percentage of Northern Irish people who wish to return to the Republic of Ireland is slowly increasing over those who wish to remain part of the UK. While it is unlikely to happen today, over half the population believes that the referendum will take place and pass within the next twenty years.

After reuniting with the group that toured the Titanic museum, the bus headed further north as we explored the northern coast. Our first stop was Dunluce Castle, and then we headed to the Giant’s Causeways where we had a quick bite to eat before we embarked on a short hike. As we were so close to the water, we elected to try some delicious fresh salmon before heading off for a hike. The trail overall held stunning views of the water, but nothing compared to when we actually arrived at the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway consists of over 40,000 basalt columns that are a result of a volcanic fissure eruption over 50 million years ago. The columns look otherworldly, their consistent hexagonal shapes making it hard to believe they are naturally formed. It is visiting sites like this that make me understand why civilizations so easily believe in supernatural creatures and deities. 

Giant’s Causeway is a Unesco World Heritage site, and it is considered one of the greatest natural wonders in Northern Ireland. (Sophia Markens)

Being the fast paced New Yorkers that we are, we managed to make it back to the bus with some time to spare. To fill the time, we decided it was time for us to have our first Irish Guinness. Guinness is a staple in both Irish culture and its economy, so it was important for us to try some on our trip. Together, my mother and I split half a pint and found that we liked it more than we had expected. 

The legal drinking age in Ireland is 18, so I was able to partake in a drink of Ireland’s famous stout, Guinness. (Sophia Markens)

Day 4

Back in Dublin for one more day, we decided to keep things simple and play things by ear. We returned once more to Brewley’s, where we had a classic meal of tea and scones for a late breakfast, after sleeping in. 

Our next stop was the Guinness Storehouse. Located in the original Guinness factory buildings, the Storehouse is now a tourist attraction that takes you through the history of Guinness and how it is made. Before going, I was expecting a tour of the actual factory. Instead, the self-guided tour takes you through different exhibits across the seven floors. It felt like something out of Harry Potter world. There are sections for each of Guinness’ four main ingredients; water, wheat, hops, and barley, each giving information about the ingredient and where Guinness sourced it from. Later on, you get to see the different types of machinery used throughout the years, and some of the infamous Guinness advertisements that made the company a household name. One room holds a proper tasting experience where you first get to smell the different odors of the four ingredients, and then you are taught how to properly sip the provided shot of Guinness. At the top floor, you reach the Gravity Bar, where you can get a free Guinness covered by the price of admission, and appreciate a pint, while overlooking a fabulous panoramic 360 view of the city. Although I am glad I went, as I was already feeling slightly ill on this day, the big screens and constant noise did make me feel a little bit nauseous. So if you are someone who gets easily overstimulated, I’d take that into account before going. 

An important thing to mention about my time in Ireland is that after planning the trip, I quickly realized that pop star Olivia Rodrigo would be performing in Dublin on my last night in the city. Although tickets were long sold out by the time that I realized this, I still held hope to the possibility of getting last minute tickets. During this last day in Ireland, both my mother and I spent half of our time refreshing the Ticketmaster website to see if we could find two tickets together. We were quickly losing hope, but halfway through our tour of the Guinness Storehouse, I luckily checked once more and was able to score two last minute tickets. 

For those who have read my previous articles, you know that I am a lover of bubble tea. In the past few years, it has been my goal to drink bubble tea in every country that I visit. Luckily, it seems that every major city in the world has bubble tea all over, so I was able to make Ireland the eighth country in which I’ve had bubble tea in. We grabbed a drink of bubble tea on our way to the concert. 

Olivia Rodrigo performed her hit single ‘get him back!’ on the first night of her Guts European Tour. (Sophia Markens)

While seeing Olivia Rodrigo perform isn’t the most Irish thing to do on a trip to Ireland, it was a perfect way to end my vacation. My time in Ireland was filled with so many amazing memories of amazing people, delicious food, and beautiful sights. Most importantly, it allowed me to have some good times with my mom.  

Overall, my mother and I spent about three full days in Dublin, which we found to be just the right amount of time. Dublin is without a doubt a very nice city, but coming from New York City and traveling across Europe, I’ve eventually realized that most cities are basically the same. I love visiting new cities nonetheless, but there is only so much to do, so I am glad we were able to use our time to explore the rest of the country, instead. 

My trip in April 2024 consisted of three days exploring Dublin, one day visiting Northern Ireland, and five days exploring the South West of Ireland with a tour group. What follows is a day by day account of my trip to many amazing parts of Ireland.

About the Contributor
Sophia Markens, Staff Reporter
Sophia Markens is a Managing Editor and Social Media Editor for ‘The Science Survey.’ For the past two years, she has been writing and editing for the paper. She likes to express herself through creative writing and enjoys researching and reporting on new and interesting topics, along with being able to share her work and interest with readers. She finds journalistic photography appealing because it creates a lens into the mind of the writer, helping the readers to visualize their work. She loves spending time with her family and two kittens, along with getting boba with her best friend. She also loves to read and watch her favorite television shows such as Community, Fleabag and Yellowjackets. Her favorite thing to do is to travel around the United States and the world, experiencing different cultures and immersing herself in nature. Sophia is interested in furthering her education in sociology and film, as she hopes to one day help create shows and movies.