Visiting Ireland to meet up with friends

Jana, and her Czech family: husband, mother, aunt and her granddaughter came to Ireland to visit an Irish friend. Jana spent one year in Tullamore in 2000 for work experience.  This time they came to stay a few nights in Dublin to catch up with some old friends. She tells us why she decided to book a homestay with Pauline in Walkinstown.

Tell us about your homestay experience.

Originally, I was looking for cheaper accommodation for 5 in a youth hostel but imagine a group consisting of a teenage girl, two 70-year-old women and a married couple of middle age. Do you think we could survive in one room with bunk beds? No way, even though they are all members of my family who get on well with each other. Homestay was the best choice we made. We had privacy in two separate rooms, single beds and comfort that we all appreciated very much.

Trinity College Dublin is worth seeing. It was founded in 1592, the architecture is unique. Did you notice that our Irish friend is used to cold weather and she is not wearing jeans and jacket? Well, we (=the Czechs) are not as hardy as Helen.

What did you do in Dublin?

The area where our homestay was located was called Walkinstown. It's calm, there is lots of greenery, nice houses and gardens. Every day we went to the city centre by bus (using a Leap Visitor Card, which was really worth the money for public transport in Dublin). The main reason why we visited Ireland was to meet our Irish friend Helen who comes from Tullamore. We have known her since 1993. She comes to the Czech Republic every summer and spends two or three weeks with us. Now she is more than just a friend...This year Helen could not come, so we decided to see her at least for a few days.

Any tips or advice for other travellers?

We spent one day on the beach in Bray, a seaside resort 20 km south of Dublin. The scenery there is breathtaking, especially the cliff views. On the way back to the city (by DART rail) we got off at Dun Laoghaire and went to see the east pier lighthouse. On the promenade we got delicious fish and chips. Another tip for travellers? What about a day trip to Galway and Connemara National Park? We booked our trip in advance from home (online) with Paddywagon Tours for a very reasonable price. The tour included a visit of a picturesque little village of Cong. This village was the filming location for John Ford's 1952 Oscar-winning film, The Quiet Man.

Bray (county Wicklow), a wonderful place to see, to walk, to swim, to relax on a hot sunny day like that.

How was your experience with your host?

Our host told us that Ireland had experienced the biggest heat wave ever (this kind of weather occured in 1976), incredible. My husband and I spent one year working in Ireland and we had to wear jeans and jackets for the whole summer as the weather was so cold in 2001. This year we were lucky and we could put on light summer clothes and we even got sunburnt! So, do not forget sun cream if you intend to visit Ireland in summer. Times change...

Another great experience we had was in the Irish pubs. All of us were eager to have a pint of Guinness every night of our stay. We seldom go to pubs in our country but Irish pubs and bars have a totally different atmosphere that we simply could not resist :-) And we enjoyed the beer more if there was live music (playing and singing traditional folk songs).

Jana and Helen at the Molly Malone

When I visited Ireland for the first time in my life 23 years ago as a student, Molly Malone statue was completely black with no gold or bronze pattern. I could not believe my eyes what has happened to her since... Her chest is shining now. Strange, nobody was touching the statue in the past. Do the Irish people made up a new superstition that would bring them good luck? Who knows.

Visiting Ireland with your family?

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