As per recommendations from locals, I decided after spending two trips in the city center I decided to check out the suburb of Malahide, just north of my hotel. Malahide sits on the shore of the Irish Sea with a straight walk towards Portmarnock and (further on) Howth.
We were supposed to get off at the bus stop in the center in front of a church and DART station, but got distracted and ended up taking the bus the whole way to the coastal walk. However, this just allowed for extra photo opportunities and two girls getting to talk about imagined destination weddings.
My many summers in Maine taught me not to believe anything the crystal clear water may have been saying: that water was probably freezing!
All we knew when we got off the bus was that Malahide was 4 km to our left, thanks to a sign. Hopefully there weren’t any random turns or forks in the road we needed to be aware of.
Once in the center of town again, we headed towards the castle in hopes of arriving before the tours stopped for the day. Spoiler alert: we didn’t. We did, however, walk down a street that looked a lot like Privat Drive just before coming to a side entrance to the castle grounds. To get to the gift shop and ticket counter itself you must walk along some wooded paths with multiple playgrounds. If they hadn’t had a bunch of kids on the rope ladders I would have run to play on them too but you know, I’m a mature adult. There was also a huge slide and swings at this one. Further down there was a merry-go-round and log structures to play on and other one had outdoor exercise equipment. It definitely was booming with people even late in the evening.
Reaching the main entrance, we went to buy the €12.50 tickets only to be told the last tour left about fifteen minutes previously (so if anyone is wondering, get there before 4:30, and according to the workers there, the earlier the better so you can spend the day picnicking in the gardens).
The castle itself is TINY! It was photogenic due to it being a beautiful day but the castle itself isn’t very impressive. I’m glad I saved the money. We did peak inside of a window and saw very little to warrant the amount of money, though had we had the whole day, it may have also been worth it for the gardens. There were people sunbathing and playing soccer, enjoying the sunshine.
After resting on a bench, comparing passports and soaking up some sun ourselves, we decided to check out another recommended place in the center of town: Gibney’s Pub. It has its own wine store attached on one side and basically an entire complex devoted to their sales.
The place is much larger than I originally thought. When you first walk in and see the place, it looks like a basement bar covered in wooden posters and license plates (where I found Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, but no Connecticut). Walk along the bar (it’s huge so keep going until you see the taps) there will be different areas of the pub to sit and eat and drink. The wooden chairs and tables are set up cozily, there’s a juke box and vending machines for cigarettes (though they may be overpriced, beware). and a nice sized beer garden outside complete with a window to the bar and a TV that was taken over for a soccer match.
Gibney’s has a wide selection of beers and ciders as well as their own label wines and a stout. I didn’t try it but my coworker did and said it was a little chocolaty but definitely heavy, hard to finish when you’re also having some food.
I prefer fruit ciders to beer and Gibney’s serves Kopparberg Cider, who have many different flavors to try out. I’ve tried mixed berry and raspberry, both of which are sweet, though the other flavors are probably a little more robust. I can’t drink it with ice, which seems to be the norm in the UK and Ireland, though.
When the football match came on, the pub became packed with fans. For Malahide having many pubs as well as being spitting distance from Dublin center, I think the amount of people spending time here was evident of its quality. Also the fact that they allow you to bring your own wine if you can’t find what you want makes it a great place to go with friends for a night out.
I have to say, I like little Malahide better than I liked going into the middle of Dublin. It feels more genuine here, less about catering to tourists and more about the Irish themselves enjoying their time in Ireland. Dublin is great and always a lot of fun, but I will definitely make sure to get away from it now and then and come back here.