A Sunny Art Trip to Southern Ireland- Days 1 and 2 (Dublin)

By August 5, 2018Art adventures

I recently returned from a sunny art trip to Southern Ireland.  Our Eat Paint Love Tour of Ireland South  took place in May, and before my memory fades, I want to share some stories and photos.

We seemed to travel under a lucky star for the entire trip! That star was our own gorgeous sun…brightening our way throughout the entire trip, and blowing away any preconception we had about “rainy Ireland”.  We did have some rain here and there, but we were very fortunate to see the sun most every day. Sunshine offers such wonderful opportunities for an art trip!☀️

Weather and Clothing:

I begin here because this is probably the most frequently asked question I get about my art trips.

Temperatures during this mid-May trip were mild, in the 50’s-60’s most days.

I required a light jacket most of the time.  My insulated jacket was also sometimes layered underneath my light jacket (a Lulu Lemon raincoat), but only when it was windy or rainy.

I can say that I was only cold once, which is saying a lot.  I am normally cold blooded and you need to keep in mind that I’m now a southern belle. 😉

I wore layers, often with a camisole underneath a shirt with sleeves, sometimes with a scarf around my neck and then a light jacket.  Shirts with long sleeves were the norm.  Black athletic pants were almost always part of my outfit with Skecher walking shoes as my preferred footwear.   I brought two pairs of these shoes in case one got wet.

Most places we visited were casual, even the nicer restaurants.  Black is always a good color to build a travel wardrobe around, because it can come across as more formal with some simple additions. If I wanted to be less casual, I just added a bit of jewelry or a colorful scarf.

First Stop: Dublin

I took my mom over a few days early, so she and I could have some time together and adjust to the 5 hour time difference.  I always recommend this if you can swing it.

Those first couple of days can be difficult, especially if you are not able to sleep on the plane during the trip over the Atlantic. Building in time for rest feels luxurious, but becomes more essential for older travelers. Jet lag is real, and being kind to yourself is a good idea at any age.

Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) and the Modern Art Museum:

Our first day: After dropping our bags at the centrally located Trinity City hotel, we toured around Dublin on the Hop on and Hop off bus.

This was a great way to see the sights, hear some history, and make our way to the ultimate destination: Kilmainham Gaol and the gardens of the Modern Art Museum. I mean, it was an art trip after all!  Let me also add that both are worth seeing.  (To see the jail, I recommend buying a ticket in advance online.  You can do so via this link: Kilmainham Gaol)

It’s a nice 45 minute walk round trip to see the Museum gardens from the jail. The gardens are beautiful and a walk is also a nice way to stay awake on that first day.

Sadly, after touring the inside of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, I would say that you can easily skip it. Even as a fan of Modern Art, I saw very little that moved me. 😌

The Jail was another story! The idea of prisons and their sad histories isn’t my idea of ideal vacation fun. In this case,  I decided to trust all the reviews and I’m so glad I did. The tour was heartfelt and filled with stories of the Irish struggle against the tyranny of British rule. It moved me!

Above is a Poem by a female Prisoner in Kilmainham Jail- We often mistakenly think that only men were held as political prisoners.  Women were also part of the Irish Freedom movement.

If you’re like me, you grew up in the era of bombs blowing up all over Ireland and Great Britain.  The IRA was the first political terror group I remember hearing about.  It really made no sense to me. After all, Britain was our ally and a democracy in the era of the Cold War. What could be the big deal?

Well, after visiting Kilmainham Jail, you come away with a little more insight. British rule was often brutal in the maintenance of its empire. Ireland’s location so close to the military might of England also made it easy to bring the full military force of the empire down upon whatever freedom efforts the Irish could muster. The stories of the prisoners were personal and poignant. They made the history come alive, and for me, those stories make the history memorable.

The tour helped me realize that the Irish struggle against Britain was basically the same struggle as that of the United States.  The difference being, that their efforts were repeated and often failed.  The leaders of the  Irish freedom movement, the signers of their declaration of Independence were imprisoned and hanged.

It brought home the idea once again of how precious the everyday freedoms we enjoy truly are. Those freedoms and our country’s independence were purchased through the sacrifice of many of our idealistic forefathers.  That’s true in Ireland and it is just as true for us as Americans.

Being reminded of that gift is a big reason why I would definitely recommend a tour of the jail site.

Garden at Museum of Modern Art by Rebecca Zdybel



Garden at Museum of Modern Art

watercolor of Statue of Salome @ Irish Museum of Modern Art by Rebecca Zdybel


Sunday High Tea at the Elegant Shelbourne Hotel

We arrived on the weekend of Mothers Day in the USA, but as we later learned, Ireland does not celebrate Mother’s Day on the same day.  No matter, it probably made our last minute reservations at the aristocratic Shelbourne Hotel a bit easier to obtain. We slipped in to the last available reservation and enjoyed an amazing  and classic high tea experience!

I love to do things on vacation that we cannot do at home, and this is definitely one of them! The sandwiches and the whole experience were elegant, beautiful, and delicious. I can’t think of a better combination!

When they found out we were there to celebrate Mother’s Day, the chef even made up a special plate just for us!  It made for a very memorable day with my mom.❤️

I would highly recommend the experience! I’ve found that new experiences lead to much inspiration. With that idea in mind I consider each opportunity travel offers as means for inspiration during each of the art trips that I offer.

Me and my mom on Mothers Day 2018

Mother’s Day gift from the chef at the Shelbourne Hotel High Tea


A Walk around the City

While at the Shelbourne, we took a walk through beautiful St Stephens Green.  This lovely park in the center of Dublin is a peaceful but lively place to sit and relax or even to paint if you’re inclined to do so.  There are lots of benches and plenty of people and places that are fun to photograph or paint.

Dublin is a great walking town, and nearby St Stephens Green you’ll find the iconic colored doors all around.

You’ll also find busy shopping and no cars on Grafton Street.  Restaurants and tourist sites are also near that area.  Definitely walk around if you’re in the neighborhood.

St Stephens Green Dublin


Doors of Dublin

This is merely a glimpse into the first couple of days or our Irish art trip!  I’ll cover more of our Eat Paint Love Irish adventure in another installment.  Stay tuned and please continue the discussion with your comments.  When I go back, I’d love to have the benefit of YOUR experiences.

Love and light,


Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at RebeccaZArtist.com.

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