An American in Dublin: Bus Tours
As an American visiting Dublin for the first time, it can initially be hard to navigate the city. As a 21 year old college student staying in a foreign country for the summer, it can be difficult to figure out many things really.
Since I’m staying here for a few months this summer, I took the first few weeks to really settle in and learn practical things – the bus system, new phone/data plan, where all the nearest Tesco’s are located, etc. With all of that, I didn’t have much time to do typical touristy things.
After three weeks of getting settled into my new life here, I figured it was maybe time to start crossing some things off of my tourist bucket list.
First thing I decided to check off was going on a bus tour. In fact, I booked tickets to two bus tours: The 1916 Tour: Beyond the Barricades and The Ghostbus Tour. Since I have Friday’s off of work, I decided to take on both tours in one day. I started my day off with the 1916 Tour: Beyond the Barricades.
Now I will admit that as an American I did not really have any knowledge of the 1916 Easter Rising. In my few weeks here, I realized it was a big part of Dublin’s history and that it was the 100th anniversary of the rising, but I still didn’t understand anything about it.
I was excited to go on this tour and finally learn about this period in Dublin’s past.
Walking onto the bus was an experience in and of itself. The whole inside had been transformed with old photos from 1916 decorating the walls. Everything looked as if it belonged to that era – the seats, curtains, decorations.
Not only did the bus transform to the era, but the tour guides did too.
My favorite part was that our tour guides never broke character the entire ride, as they switched from one historical figure to another. It was as if you were watching a play while being taken around the city to different historical sites.
This combination of both a bus tour and a play created a unique form of theatre, as different areas of Dublin became the stage. It allowed a new platform for these stories and Dublin’s history to be told.
The tour really encourages you to imagine what it must have been like for the people who lived through the 1916 Easter Rising. This was easy for me to do as the two guides we had were both fantastic actors. Their commitment to each role brought the tour to life.
By interacting and engaging with the people on the tour, the guides offered bits of humor that helped lighten up some of the emotional aspects of the 1916 rising. To date, this tour has been my favorite bus tour I’ve been on.
Having finished the 1916 Tour around noon, I still had loads of time before my Ghostbus tour that evening. I grabbed lunch and explored the city more before meeting up with some friends.
I will admit that I was a little terrified to go on this tour since I hate horror stuff. Occasionally I love a good ghost story or two, but for the most part I hate anything even the slightest bit scary.
The inside of this bus was full of decorations, but not like anything I saw on the 1916 bus that morning. The space was dark with only a single light turned on and all of the windows covered by curtains.
This tour took us to Dublin Castle where our guide told us all about how Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, had hallucinations and still haunts the grounds to this day. We then explored a part of the underground level of the castle and learned some of its history.
My favorite part of this tour was when the guide showed us a mock execution and used one of my friends, Jason, as a part of his demonstration (see picture below).
The last stop we went to was one of the more serious and spooky moments of the tour. Our guide brought us to a little cemetery where witch burnings were once held. Everyone was so invested in its history, that when our guide jumped towards us by surprise, we all flinched.
I really enjoyed both the 1916 Beyond Barricades Tour and the Ghostbus Tour. Though different, they both offered a fun and interactive way to learn about Dublin’s history.
During these two tours, I constantly found myself wondering what it must have been like to live in Dublin during the times they talked about. I’m happy I was able to learn a little more about how Dublin came to be the city it is today.
Also, playing tourist for the day was pretty fun too!