travel tour: Dublin, Ireland

Emerald Isle Classic – Notre Dame vs. Navy

Emerald Isle Classic – Notre Dame vs. Navy

History, culture and host to one of the top 100 universities in the world make Dublin one of the most popular spots in Ireland. However, it takes a trip to a pub, a pint of Guinness and some Irish craic (the Irish term for good conversation) to capture the true spirit of Ireland’s capital–the people.

While Gaelic football and rugby are the favorite sports of the people, this gregarious and green city welcomed college football to Aviva Stadium as Notre Dame played Navy in the Emerald Isle Classic.

Where to stay

For the college football faithful, Temple Bar and the south river side of Dublin are the closest accommodations for sporting events though budget options are available in other parts of the city center.

From cheap to charming, there are a number of accommodations in Dublin. For the budget minded travelers, the Jacobs Inn and Generator Hostel Dublin offer affordable private and dorm style room options for backpackers and families on a budget. For more comfortable options which stretch the budget a little more, check out Kellys Dublin off Grafton Street or Baggot Court Townhouse near Merrion Square. While hotels in Dublin can be expensive, there are plenty of affordable options in the Temple Bar area as well.

Where to eat/drink

Where to eat/drink

For fans of football, tailgating and the social scene are a part of the campus atmosphere. While Dublin doesn’t feature traditional tailgating areas, there are plenty of places to celebrate Irish culture with pre and post game celebrations.

Pub life is an essential part of Dublin. And there are lots of pubs in the Temple Bar area to hang out with the locals for good craic, a beer and live Irish music. Try enjoying a pint and some music at The Stag’s Head on Dame Lane. Live music is also offered every night at O’Donoghues on Merrion Row. Finally, to really immerse yourself, try chatting with the locals and learn what Irish craic is all about at Kehoe’s on South Anne Street.

For Irish food, both pubs and restaurants offer Irish cuisine. For pubs, try O’Neills on Suffolk St or Davy Byrne’s for a little literary history with James Joyce. Gallagher’s Boxty House in Temple Bar offers early bird meal deals serving great Irish stews, cabbage and desserts. For other Dublin Restaurants, The Winding Stair, The Pigs Ear and The Bakehouse offer classic tastes of Ireland. For something a little different, try checking out this site to learn more about some of the best places to have tea in Dublin.

Game day tips

Game day tips

While Dublin is mad for their rugby, college football action was on the field at Aviva stadium for the Emerald Isle Classic. Both Notre Dame and Navy put forth their best effort but it might have been the brand new Aviva stadium that stole the show. Aviva is an open air stadium holding more than 50,000 spectators for all types of games and matches and while it may not be one of the biggest it certainly may be one of the nicest. The field is in perfect condition and there aren’t many bad seats in the stadium. Every seat in the stadium came with its own chair and seat back – no bleacher seats here. In the endzones, the clear glass design allows you to look through the stadium to the city of Dublin.

Before the game, the traditional tailgating you might be used to stateside is a bit different at Aviva because people do not park near the stadium. So think out of the box if you ever go! This time Notre Dame fans were welcome to a huge pre-game tailgate in the Temple Bar area. Irish dancing and culture mingled with the spirit of the Notre Dame fans as the Notre Dame marching band excited the fans with fight songs and a salute to Irish culture. Other options were harder to come by as many events leading up to the game were held at different locations throughout the city center.

When the game wrapped up, the festivities continued in Dublin with traditional tailgates blending with Irish culture creating a unique and fun way to celebrate the win for Notre Dame.  For fans going to a game and looking for an after party, the pubs in the city will be the best place to go.

Finally, getting to the game is easy. Whether you are seeing a big Gaelic football game or rugby match at Croke Park or enjoying a concert or college football game at Aviva stadium, make sure you take public transportation to get there. City buses, the Luas (tram) or DART (train), are quick and affordable options without the hassle of driving.

What to do

What to do

While this college football game was the event drawing fans to Dublin, fans understand that there is more to see and do in Dublin than just a game. 

When in Dublin, a pub is an essential item for any itinerary but it is important to note the city offers a rich array of options for lovers of history, art and culture as well. For starters, all of Dublin’s museums are free. This means visitors can enjoy the National Museum of Ireland, National Gallery and Museum of Decorative Art and Natural History museum, all within easy walking distance of the city center, without paying admission costs. Travelers can also learn about the 1916 Irish uprising with a guided tour of Kilmainham Jail or wander around Dublin castle. Dublin also offers one of the best museums in Europe – the Chester Beatty Library. And finally, no visit to Ireland would be complete without a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral.

When you’ve absorbed enough Irish history and art, reward yourself with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse where visitors can learn about the history of Guinness, see the Wicklow Mountains and the skyline of Dublin in Gravity Barand all while relaxing with a pint of Guinness. 

For the travel literati, hit the books and learn about Ireland’s oldest college with a guided tour of Trinity College. As part of your tour, you get a ticket to see one of the greatest pieces of literary history the country has to offer – the Book of Kells. Enjoy the aroma of old books as you close out your tour with a stroll through The Long Room, a chamber straight out of Harry Potter.

For sunny days and outdoor lovers, Dublin’s parks remind you that green is indeed the color of Ireland. Experience this first hand while wandering through the gardens of St Stephen’s Green, south of Trinity College or visit Merrion Square, which pays tribute to Oscar Wilde with a memorial statue. Finally, Phoenix Park has the largest green space in Dublin with bike rentals, wildlife, and a zoo.

While there is so much to see and do in Dublin, travelers can easily journey to places miles away in terms of scenery but just a few minutes outside Dublin on DART. Howth and Dun Laoghire are fishing villages offering hiking, leisurely strolls along the pier or some of the most beautiful Irish sunsets you will ever see.

Jeremy Branham

Jeremy Branham is a budget traveler and college football fan who loves exploring California, the US and destinations around the world. When he isn't traveling, attending college football games and sporting events or hiking, he enjoys time at home with his family in Sacramento, California. He's been featured in publications such as The Washington Post and The Sacramento Bee. Follow his adventures and travel stories for a fun, unique look at travel on Budget Travel Adventures.

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