Guinness Factory, Dublin

Everyone reads about those stories whereby people wake up one morning and make massive life changes which will take them on an adventure they never intended. But you never expect to become of those people… 18 months ago I became one.

I was 25, I owned my house, I had what was considered a decent job and planning my wedding for the following summer. I woke up one morning and realised I was missing out on life, I wasn’t happy in my relationship and I was just going through the motions of life. So I took a stand… I applied for my dream job; I left my fiancé of 7 years and put my house up for sale.

I remember the first night I left my fiancé, sat outside my mums house with my life packed into my car thinking I had lost the plot. Of course a couple of bottles of wine later and far too many shots I woke up feeling amazing… not!! I remember thinking, right, you need to get your shit together and make some plans.

After being with someone for such a long time and the wrong one at that, you become a different person and forget what you like to do for yourself. So I decided to make a list of things I love to do, places I would like to see and things I wanted to try. The ’30 things before 30′ bucket list was born.

Fast forward a few months, I had already started training for my new job and Christmas was fast approaching. I promised myself I wouldn’t sit around and mope on my first Christmas alone. I looked at my bucket list and plucked a few things to tick off in the week between Christmas and New Year.

#10 Go on a trip alone
#13 Visit the Guinness factory in Dublin

This seemed like a great combination so a few clicks later and I had flights and a hotel booked.

The plan was to stay in Dublin and then travel further south to Waterford and Carrick on Bannow to visit family.

I booked flights with RyanAir and considering this was booked a month before they only cost £30.00 return, flying from Liverpool to Dublin. The flight times were good too. An early flight on the way in and late flight on return.

Boxing Day with an early morning flight was a great time to travel, Liverpool Airport was deserted so security and boarding moved fairly quickly. After purchasing the mandatory new holiday book for the flight (strongly suggested when travelling alone) I was boarded and 50 minutes later, I landed in Dublin. I have always used RyanAir when traveling to Ireland and I have never had any issues, for such a short flight it’s perfect.

Transport from the airport to your accommodation varies. I have hired a car before now, but I was travelling further and with others, so for this trip I decided to use the public transport. There is a shuttle bus that travels from Dublin airport to the main train station Dublin Heuston and only costs 5 euros for an open return. Lucky for me, there was a stop around the corner from my hotel and this took around 25 minutes to get to the heart of Dublin.

When choosing accommodation I did do some research because as I was travelling alone I didn’t want to be away from the centre attractions or away from busy areas, for safety and socialising purposes. I was looking for a nice hotel (Christmas treat to myself!) and found the Harding Hotel, for one night the cost was 100 euros for a double room with no breakfast, however this was linked to the ‘Darkey Kellys’ pub which provided a reasonable Irish breakfast.

I personally found this location perfect, it was close to the town centre about 5-10 minutes walk depending on your pace, close to famous bars such as Temple Bar and opposite the Christ Church Cathedral. I found plenty of bars and pubs to visit. As a lone female, I felt safe at the hotel and wondering around the city but I did stay to the main attraction in the day time.

If you’re into history like me then a visit to the Castle was interesting and there is a tour, but unfortunately due to the time of year, it was shut, so bare this in mind if you visit over Christmas. Most of the historic points around the city are free unless you add on to the tours which come at an additional cost.

The main attraction for me was the Guinness factory, my Grandad is Irish since having my first pint in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day with him, I have wanted to visit the factory in Dublin – I definitely take after him. I booked my ticket for the factory before going away online via their direct site. This will work out cheaper with an online discount and you also have an option to buy gifts which are prepared for when you arrive at little cost.

My ticket cost £17.50 (20 euro), I chose the 6pm time slot. I’m not shy of good walk and Google Maps said from my hotel to the factory was a 30 minutes walk so I set off on foot. I was too interested in the looking around I took a wrong turn and my battery died. This is not ideal in a city you don’t know, on your own as a female, I did ask people for directions some more welcoming than others.

I ended up finding the factory via signs and people but along the way ventured through some run down areas, dark allies and some very suspicious looking people drinking and taking drugs.

I was late due to getting lost which wasn’t an issue the staff booked me on to the next slot. This was a self-led tour and is very commercial but a great experience. You will get to sample a Guinness half-way around and then your ticket provides each person with a free pint when the tour finishes. You also have the option to pour your our Guinness which I think is fab! The best part of tour is the 360′ bar, you can see for miles across Ireland and the views are amazing.

After the tour had ended I wanted to go out for the night and started my night in the ‘Darkey Kelly’s’ a very quirky Irish pub, with an Irish band and a good atmosphere. At first I hated being on my own but you get used to quickly, I ended up meeting a group of travellers who came to the pub due to being on bar crawl. They were a great group so I joined the bar crawl and had a blast! I would definitely book on this if I would have known about it, it was such a great way to meet new people as a group or lone traveller.

The next day I had pre-booked train tickets to travel from Dublin Heuston to Waterford. I booked these with Irish Rail at a reasonable price. For anyone fancying traveling to other parts of southern Ireland I would recommend the train as there are some beautiful places to visit. I visited Kilkenny and Thomas Town which are lovely places to visit on the rail route.

These trips can be a few hours to travel to but worth seeing another side of the country, the tickets can costs a little as 20 euros return. It’s a perfect way to travel some distance without having the hassle of hiring a car.

Luckily, I have family who live by the coast of Carrick on Bannow, South East Ireland. If you are looking for a remote place to visit this would be perfect with holiday cottages along the entire coast line varying in cost. If you decide to hire a car, Black Hill beach is just amazing. It’s one of my favourite places to escape to, my home from home.

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Get a taxi when visiting the Gunness Factory (this should be a must) it cost 7 euros each way, or there are horse and cart rides for 15 euros if you fancy something different. The walk alone is not worth the risk around the factory in the evening.
  2. CHARGE YOUR PHONE! This was a rookie mistake for me, luckily the staff at the factory rang a taxi for me and they were super helpful.
  3. Public transport is the way forward; reliable, convenient and at a low cost.
  4. Venture further south and visit some of the countryside – Amazing views with a lovely traditional Irish feel. Surprisingly in Dublin some of this has been lost and I didn’t meet hardly any Irish people, more English or Eastern European people.
  5. If you were to research anything your hotel location is key!
  6. Ireland is considered to be expensive and this is not just in the capital, this can massively vary on the places you want to eat at. For my 4 days trip 300 euro was enough, this could be longer if more drinking sessions were planned.