We entered the country through Belfast (by boat from Scotland), and we spent the first night there. I really did not know what to expect from Northern Ireland-- 15 years ago I never would have thought to visit that part of the world. But it's a fascinating place. We stayed in a lovely part of town near Queen's University and Josh found a pub that had an open night so we headed there and ended up staying the whole night. We met lots of friendly folks (kind of crazy folks too, but lots of fun).
After Belfast we took a (very scenic) bus ride to Dublin. I immediately got a good vibe from the city, but unfortunately we did not have a lot of time to explore that day. Josh played at a pub in a very cool part of town, but it was sort of a bust- basically an open mic type gig that allowed him to play only 5 or 6 songs as part of a 6-person line up. And then, he was supposed to play another Dublin gig but found out (rather last minute) that it was canceled. Oh well, we still love this town.
The next part of the trip was my favorite- we rented a car and drove into the center of the country to County Tipperary. There we spent 2 nights with our friends the MaGraths- relatives of our Irish friend Tim, who lives in Madison. Kay and Donie treated us like family, and their gorgeous house in the country overlooking Lough Derg was a very welcome change from the dingy hostels and couches we'd been sleeping on. We spent both nights that we were there at this wonderful pub called Larkins- just down the hill from where we were staying. Friday night Josh had a proper gig (which was kind of sparsely attended, but loads of fun) and Saturday night we went back for Brendan O'Connor's 50th birthday. It was quite the event- the entire town was there to celebrate. They set up for a band, which Josh ended up leading (he went up to play one song but they wouldn't let him leave).
beautiful scenery in County Tipperary
By the way- if you'd like to hear another perspective on the trip (plus info on his shows and videos) check out Josh's blog!