Isabel Griffith-Gorgati, Princeton University, USA
This Hilary Term saw nearly all visiting students have their time in Dublin abruptly cut short by the novel coronavirus in March. I booked a flight home on March 14th and was back home in Boston on March 15th, safe and healthy and still trying to process this unexpected goodbye.
Self-isolation has prompted me to reflect a lot on my two months in Dublin, especially the level of freedom that I felt on study abroad. Like many others, I went from the period of the most freedom I’ve had in my life to the period of the least freedom I’ve ever felt. I thought I’d reflect on some of my favorite memories from my brief time in Ireland this spring, for which I am so grateful.
The first, of course, is attending classes on Trinity’s campus! The architecture is beautiful, and as soon as you walk through the front entryway there is a sense of calm as the noise of the city center fades away. My home university, Princeton, is often referred to affectionately as the “orange bubble,” but it is a way away from the nearest city. I loved that Trinity combines a homey campus feel with a vibrant city culture just outside its gates. I enjoyed walking just across the street with my art history class to see works of art in person at the National Gallery of Ireland. Two of my favorite spots to eat near campus were Mama’s Revenge (for a cheap burrito) and Bewley’s Café. Bewley’s is a bit pricier, but worth it for one of the best coffees you’ll find in Dublin, a beautiful interior, and some cool literary history for all my fellow English majors.
Before arriving in Dublin in January, Galway was already close to my heart as I spent the summer of 2019 interning for the Baboró International Arts Festival for Children in the tiny city on the west coast. It was special to be able to reunite with friends in Galway, as well as to show some Princeton friends around one of my favorite places when they visited in late January!
Museums are always at the top of my list of places to explore in any new city. Dublin is full of them, including many that are free of charge, and they’re a perfect activity for a rainy day (of which there are plenty in Ireland). One of my favorite free museums in Dublin is the Hugh Lane Gallery. I especially loved their collection of gorgeous Irish stained glass.
Howth is a nearby coastal town that’s a must-visit for anyone living in Dublin – it is just a quick train ride away, but it feels like you’ve left the city far behind. Visiting Howth with a friend was one of my last moments of pure calm before being sent home from Dublin. We walked along the coast and bought tea at the adorable Waggy Tail Tearooms, which serves the best scone I’ve ever had in my life.
I have much more to explore in Dublin and the rest of Ireland. I know I’ll be back as soon as I can make it.