In April this year my eldest son turned 21 and it was also our 25th wedding anniversary. Instead of having a big family party for both ( which my son would have hated, and my husband would have hated) we decided to do a shared celebration with just us four. I’m not being funny but with the amount you spend on a party ( with food, drink and decorations etc) we have always been the type to put the money to a better use ( for us anyway) to go somewhere and have an experience instead. The amount of effort involved with food alone would put me under pressure illness wise and by the time I would have done all the organising for it I would probably be too exhausted to actually enjoy it! Anyway, we decided before Christmas that a weekend in Dublin was our plan and so we all had something to look forward to.
I’ve been to Dublin many years ago with a group of friends and had a great time, but as I’m from Belfast myself it’s always been a place I wanted to take my boys and we agreed we would wait until they were old enough to drink legally! So we decided we would combine the celebrations and take ourselves away for a long weekend there as a family. We were actually looking forward to going away with our boys who are now 21 and 18 years old, it’s a whole other experience when they are this age. Less arguing, less faffing, less stress, more fun, more easy going and well, more enjoyable!
Unfortunately because of dates of uni, and my son’s school holidays combined with my husbands leave from work we could only manage a long weekend. Had we have had longer we would have undoubtedly travelled further out and maybe also gone up to Belfast too. So because of that we decided to be complete and utter typical tourists! We stayed in the centre of town ( on O’Connell street) in a standard Holiday Inn, no frills but perfect for what we needed. This meant everything we wanted to see or visit was pretty much within walking distance in one direction or another.
We had booked the typical Irish night of entertainment on the Saturday evening which just happened to be a 5 minute walk from our hotel. Had it just been my husband and I we would have also opted for the dinner option, but because the boys are pretty fussy with food we thought it would be better to eat elsewhere and just rock up for a few drinks and the entertainment.
So that meant on the Friday evening we decided to do the whole Temple Bar area thing. We were actually lucky enough to get into THE actual Temple bar which had a great live band playing an absolutely brilliant Irish style set, a mix of traditional and more well known songs, which was great to see and hear. Be warned in the actual bar itself it’s quite a squeeze as it’s fairly small. So we had a few drinks in there and moved onto a more relaxed and spacious bar which also had live music too.
It was great to be out with our boys having a few casual drinks and enjoying being together to be fair. It had been a very early start for us so we didn’t make it too late a night, but instead stopped by a local supermarket to buy a few more cold beers and some snacks to head back to the hotel for a room picnic………anyone else do this? My youngest is great for quizzes and had us guessing intros to songs and also songs from movies!
Breakfast the next morning was as expected from a Holiday Inn, we knew neither of our boys would bother so it meant me and Mr B were the early birds heading down on our own! Our plans were to see all the sights close at hand, St Stephens Green, Ha’penny Bridge, Molly Malone and we threw in a whiskey tour! We were very lucky with the weather, although it was freezing, it was sunny AND dry!! I mean we had no rain at all………..so we considered ourselves VERY lucky.
As I mentioned before we had pre booked a traditional Irish entertainment night for the Saturday evening, you know the type of thing……….live music including all the typical Irish songs ( which I’m proud to say my boys knew them all- insert proud Irish mama face), Irish dancing and lots of audience participation. At one point one of the dancers came over and asked to borrow out table……….and then proceeded to do this!
Anyway it was a great night, again it was just lovely being out with the boys as grown ups – so those of you with younger kids……………believe me your time will come so don’t wish your time away!
By Sunday, we were all a little tired and opted for a more subdued day. This meant me and Mr B on our own again for brekkie ( although the eldest did come and show his face for food at the last knockings) and we decided to walk to the Guinness Storehouse, which was a fairly long way, but it meant we got to see and walk through other areas rather than just jumping on the bus!
This is a definite ‘must do’ if you are ever there. It had also really changed since I had been there over 10 years ago! As I use a walking stick I was singled out ( in a good way) to go to another desk, with all my family, so I didn’t have to stand in a queue. This is ALWAYS appreciated if I go somewhere and this is taken into consideration. I never, ever ask or put myself in a position that singles me out because of my illness and chronic pain. Apart from the walking stick there is nothing visible showing as a disability and so I am very grateful when these sorts of things happen.
Anyway, Guinness Storehouse is spread over several floors and although is really busy you can go at your own pace and so we didn’t find it a problem. There is lots of history there and lots to look at an experience even before getting to the rooftop bar for your free pint. I loved the little section when they take you in and talk history and you get a tiny, baby Guinness to try…………..I would have loved one of those mini glasses too but alas you’re definitely warned against trying to pop it in your handbag! As I said we took our time and spent most of the afternoon there and certainly enjoyed our free Guinness at the bar.
By the evening we were pretty tired so we decided to stay fairly close to the hotel for food and found a real hidden gem in the pub that was literally next door called Murray’s. Little did we know that the place had 2 floors and that the food was going to be great and we would have more live music! So this really made our night in the fact that it was a last minute choice and it was literally just because it was next to our hotel…………..so it would have been rude not too!
I think I can hand on heart say we all really enjoyed ourselves on the weekend and we still had a great time on my son’s actual 21st birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary, so I definitely think it was the best use of our time and money to celebrate in the way we did. Obviously if I ever go back and it’s just me and Mr B we would be visiting different places and going further afield, but we felt it only fair at their age to do the typical tourist trip.
I also think it has spurred my youngest son on to wanting to travel more. He is currently doing his A level exams – and by doing his A levels I mean sitting the exams even though he’s done no revision! He is planning on some solo travelling over the next year , while he works his part time job to fund it…………….so in fairness I think my job here is done! I’m a lucky Mum too as my Christmas present was a weekend away with him in Europe somewhere. We haven’t decided yet and it will be a last minute booking but we are maybe thinking Barcelona , fingers crossed in the summer in between his lads holiday and his booked festivals! Oh to be 18 again.