Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way & Dublin’s “Bar With No Name”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Dublin based Tourism Ireland shares his passion for exploring Ireland and experiencing the 1,600 mile-long Wild Atlantic Way on the NPR One Podcast. Second half of the show we’ll visit a cool Dublin pub named The Bar with No Name—It’s a place you’ll have to search for but its worth the walkabout.

Hiking along the fabled Ring of Kerry on the Wild Atlantic Way offers lifetime memories. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Click here to listen to the NPR One podcast with Niall Gibbons and on-location at Dublin’s Bar With No Name

Dublin City is an inviting place with endless streets and lanes lined with Victorian era homes and shops. A visit to Guinness Storehouse for a pint or two of the “Black Stuff” is an integral part of the Dublin experience. Not to be missed is the brewery tour, and if time allows, a tutorial in pulling the perfect pour from the tap.

Guiness in Dublin Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
The Palladian era doors are a revered architectural motif of Dublin Ireland. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Exploring Dublin’s side streets is a colorful experience Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Ask anyone who’s spent time in Ireland and they will likely recount their instant adoration of the people, the culture, and the stunningly beautiful countryside, along with the vibrant towns and cities. If your time is limited, mark Dublin and Belfast on top of your hit list.

Luke Skywalker and I have something in common–we both love Skellig Michael Island. It’s a mere eight miles from Portmagee in southwest County Kerry. A visit to the island is like a time trip back to the 6th century when a monastic community was formed here.

The island is stark, towering and seemingly uninhabitable, but the monks’ stone beehive huts remain intact (restored in the late 19th century) with archeological evidence of their garden plots carved out of stone outcroppings.

Skellig Michael Island is a protected World Heritage Site Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

The monastic community remained on the isle through repeated Viking attacks, but the community was ultimately abandoned in the 13th century. Some of the Star Wars scenes filmed on Skellig Michael were the product of CGI—but in many of the scenes what you see is what you will experience if you make the memorable journey by boat.

The Last Jedi–Luke Skywalker’s home on Skellig Michael Island Photo Credit: Disney Studios

Skellig Michael Island’s restored 6th Century monastic community’s Beehive huts Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Rugged, shear cliffs of Skellig Michael Island seems like a formidable location for a monastic community. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Little Skellig Michael Island is home to the world’s second largest Gannett population of more than 70,000. The Gannett is Ireland’s largest seabird. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Little Skellig Michael Island Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Sunset on Valencia Island, County Kerry Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
The Ring of Kerry offers an amazing array of vistas

Skellig Michael Island is a World Heritage Site, and the number of visitors is limited and tightly regulated, so plan on making reservations as far in advance as possible. Whether or not time allows for a boat trip out to the island, be sure to stop in at The Skellig Experience Visitor Center on Valentia Island, adjacent to the island bridge. 

Exploring Belfast

Top of my list of Belfast must dos is a tour at the Titanic Experience. Imagine if you will, four nine-story-tall ship’s bows (the same height as Titanic’s) thrusting outward at 90-degrees from one another and you’ll have a glimmer of the new Titanic-Belfast’s grandeur and dynamic visual symbolism.

This is where the draftsmen worked on the plans for the R.M.S. Titanic at Harland & Wolff Shipyards in Belfast Northern Ireland Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Titanic-Belfast is a one-stop showcase of anything and everything relative to R.M.S. Titanic—from keel laying to her sinking and aftermath.

Appropriately situated steps away from Titanic’s dry dock, nine distinctive galleries recount Titanic’s history through state-of-the-art interactive displays, computer simulations and full-scale recreations.

Visitors climb aboard cars that sail through space and zoom through a virtual Titanic under construction. An array of interactive computer-generated imagery brings to life the ship’s interior, staterooms, dining rooms, engine room and more.

Workers en route to Harland & Wolff Shipyards to work on the Titanic Photo Credit: Museums of Northern Ireland

Individual galleries situated on six levels focus on aspects such as The Maiden Voyage, The Sinking, The Aftermath, and Titanic Beneath which presents a virtual journey to visit the ship as it lies on the North Atlantic seabed 2.5 miles below the surface.

Titanic-Belfast is a multi-faceted facility with restaurants, cafes and shops. Titanic’s tender vessel, the Nomadic, survived and it’s been fully restored and is part of the experience where you can step aboard and have a taste of the Titanic. When the Nomadic was built it was outfitted with identical materials used on the Titanic such as the intricate lighting rosettes, door hardware, portholes and detailed millwork.

Playful contemporary architecture near Harland & Wolff Shipyards in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Belfast Northern Ireland a few blocks from the Harland & Wolff Shipyards Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Belfast Northern Ireland’s fabled curvilinear-glass Palm House built in 1840 predates Kew Garden’s glass palm house

Peaceful vista from the 5-star Culloden Estate & Spa in the Belfast countryside Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Belfast Northern Ireland’s side street Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Kelly’s Cellars–one of Ireland’s oldest pubs–founded in 1720