DUBLIN —  We landed in Ireland at about 7 a.m. Sunday and were greeted by typical Irish fog and a spraying of light rain. Though the class was low on sleep, spirits were high. We experienced a momentary scare when half the group was trapped in an airport elevator. But the luck of the Irish prevailed, and we all safely exited the Dublin Airport and dropped our luggage at the Gresham Hotel.

We began our day with a walking tour of the city, led by local expert and musician Ian Bermingham, whose quick-witted historical anecdotes revived and energized our jet-lagged group. Our first stop was Dublin’s General Post Office, where Bermingham pointed out the bullet holes on the columns — a reminder of the violent price of independence that the Irish established in 1921. 

We then climbed the narrow, steep staircase into the Old Mill Restaurant in the Temple Bar neighborhood, where we enjoyed a traditional Irish breakfast of fried eggs, sausage and toast. Also on the plate were small pucks of black and white puddings — a local favorite of oats mixed with blood and animal fat, respectively — that received mixed reviews from those brave enough to taste it. These reporters opted out. 

On our way there, the streets had been quiet. Bermingham had warned us that in a couple of hours, the bars would be thronged with tourists hoping to hear musicians and enjoy an authentic Guinness pint. He was right. The restaurant filled up while we were eating, forcing us to squeeze past a line of incoming diners as we exited down the stairs, and we found the square outside already bustling by 10 a.m. 

After breakfast, we walked up a small pebbly incline and learned we had mounted the highest point in Dublin. There, we stopped to learn the history of Dublin Castle, which Bermingham explained had been damaged in an explosion hundreds of years ago. Red brick office buildings are now where that tower once stood.

As we continued our tour, a common theme began to appear: Vikings. Tour buses with foreigners donned in Viking wigs and helmets passed by, and they all screamed in unison at their guide’s instruction. Outside of the cathedral, Bermingham showed us plaques that commemorated Viking artifacts discovered at different locations in the city. There were even outlines of Viking homes that were erected centuries ago, giving us just a bit of insight into what life was like in Dublin then. 

We also got to walk through the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral, a historic Church of Ireland. The grounds were busy as tourist groups stood to marvel at the old stone architecture.

It started to rain more as the afternoon progressed, so we stopped to warm up at the Temple Bar Pub where we ordered Guinnesses and Irish coffees. A popular destination, the pub was filled with cheerful tourists and live Irish folk music. 

“It’s a nice place, but you won’t hear too many Dublin accents in there,” said Bermingham.

After getting some much needed rest at the hotel, the class rallied for a fantastic, modern Irish farm-to-table dinner at The Woollen Mills Eating House. Favorites included the Irish-spiced burrata, fresh pan seared sirloin and a rich chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. 

While at dinner, each student relayed one thing that surprised them about Dublin. One thing that stood out to multiple students was a plaque on the O’Connell Bridge. It reads: 








But we learned Noise never existed, and the origin of the story is still unknown. (Always fact-check when an Irish person uses the disclaimer “allegedly,” Bermingham jokingly warned us.) Even so, the plaque had become popular with locals, who often left flowers around it. The city’s initial effort to remove it was rebuked by Councillor Dermot Lacey in 2006 at a meeting for the South East Area Committee of the Council. The Council approved a motion supporting keeping it despite its inauthenticity — instead commemorating the Irish passion for a good story.

Edited by Natalie Demaree