We’ve just come back to England after our house sitting Ireland assignment through TrustedHousesitters – what an experience! So far on this house sitting and pet sitting adventure we’ve met the loveliest people. From London to Northampton and then Balbriggan just outside of Dublin. It’s been refreshing, rediscovering the best in humanity.
Not to mention, we’re learning so much about places we’d never have even known to go to. Funnily enough, Northampton is known for its shoe industry. We then went to Balbriggan to house sit in Ireland, and this town’s famous for making hosiery! So famous, in fact, that this gorg seaside spot used to serve all the royals in Europe, including the Empress of Austria, the Czarina of Russia and Queen Victoria herself. A little on the history here.
Out and about: house sitting Ireland
In Ireland we house sat for Harley the Tibetan terrier, and his parents. We crossed with Harley’s humans right before they went on a two week trip to France (the reason we were house sitting in Ireland) and for a night when they came back. We had such a great time with them, leaving as friends. When they came back, we had gone to some effort to ensure the house was sparkling clean and that we had a meal ready for them. Part of showing gratitude.
Find out more about those tips:
Harley himself was a super quirky, cool, unique dog. We’re discovering a whole new world of personalities doing this.
Our love of dogs and experience with different breeds has been coming in handy, we apply it to a new situation everywhere we land. New things we’re discovering, especially with older dogs, is separation anxiety and also a stubbornness when they’re independently minded. Me and them get along famously 😂 [jokes]
Get yourself to Ireland
Ireland is famous the world over for being beautiful and the people are well-known for being funny, hospitable and kind. We can absolutely vouch for all of this.
It’s pretty easy to get started – sign up for a site like TrustedHousesitters. Get your profile and reference checks sorted, and then the fun begins.
If you’re looking for house sitting Ireland opportunities, set up alerts for the country, and keep an eye out for new listings every day. We’ve found that the sites can be competitive, so you want to be within the first few people to apply.
House sitting Ireland: top tips
Ireland is not a huge country, so it’s possible to be able to plan seeing a bit of it around your house sitting assignments. There’s internal flights to main cities, and trains too. But once you get into the heart of Ireland you’ll probably need a car.
That said, we’ve not hired one yet. In Dublin the transport is quite good and you can walk a lot of places. We caught local buses to our pet sit/ house sit in Balbriggan which is an hour outside of Dublin. Our sit home owners got all the details on this to us prior to us confirming the sit – important, to make sure you’re right to commit. We needed to make sure we wouldn’t be so remote so as not to be able to get groceries and living essentials.
Leave time to explore
There’s so many beautiful places to go in Ireland. We’ve been lucky enough to explore Dublin, and further south around Killarney. Have a read of our guides (linked) and watch our videos for more information.
Ireland is brimming with experiences though. You can drive along the coast and discover all the little towns and ports, and go inland to meet more of the country’s characters. It’s possible to do it within two or three weeks. But we love spending time somewhere if we’ve got it.
It’s important to check the dates you’re due to arrive (does your house sit need you a day earlier than advertised?). And what’s your plan on the other side? How will you get to your next destination? Do you need an extra night’s accommodation?
We’ve found home owners to be so lovely and helpful, which we really appreciate. At the moment we’re travelling and transport-less. Keep the lines of communication open and make your plans ahead of time.
Enjoy house sitting in Ireland!
Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips or questions. We’ve also got a whole series of videos on YouTube with advice on house and pet sitting. Subscribe and find them here.
Uncover in a day, some of the best-hidden gems Dublin has to offer. Find here a special guide on one of our favourite cities in the world.
Ireland’s capital, Dublin is a hub of museums, restaurants and architecture. You could stay for a week and only scratch the surface of what’s on offer. But, here’s where we suggest you begin:
Hidden gems Dublin: best afternoon tea
Afternoon tea may be a traditional English affair, but the Irish know how to do it well. Whether you’re looking for cheap and cheerful or a truly decadent experience, Dublin is crawling with places that offer a delightful spot of tea.
The Shelbourne Hotel
Overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, The Shelbourne is the grandest 5-star hotel in Dublin. It’s located right in the heart of the city. Less a hidden gem of Dublin and more a ‘must-see’, everything about the hotel screams elegance. Their afternoon tea is no different.
Take a seat in one of the plush velvet chairs of the Lord Mayor’s room. Be treated to delicate cakes, exquisite finger sandwiches and local delicacies like house-smoked Castletownbere salmon and Guinness bread. You heard right, Guinness Bread!
The Shelbourne Hotel definitely leans towards the more expensive side of the scale at €52 per person. However, if you’re in the mood for an affluent treat, there’s nowhere like it. You’re on holiday, after all, treat yourself!
Vintage Tea Tour
For Afternoon Tea with a difference, this hidden treasure offers you an experience like no other. Take a step back in time on a vintage 1961 Routemaster bus, affectionately named Pauline. Enjoy your Afternoon Tea on the streets of Dublin.
Perfect for visiting the capital, the Vintage Tea Tour takes you past some of Dublin’s much loved historical sights. While you’re sipping your tea and nibbling on a traditional scone with clotted cream, you’ll be treated to a 1950’s jazz soundtrack and some great local stories from your hosts.
Hidden gems Dublin: grab a bite to eat
When you’re only popping over for a short stay, you don’t want to spend your time wandering the streets looking for lunch. Thankfully, you’re spoilt for choice when looking for somewhere to eat in Dublin.
What better way to enjoy a day away than with a gourmet lunch? In the centre of Dublin, The Greenhouse is a Michelin star restaurant that has been setting the standard for over six years.
Finnish chef Mickael Vijanen has been named the ‘best chef in Ireland’ on multiple occasions. You just need to taste The Greenhouse’s menu to see why. Naturally, the restaurant is a little on the pricey side. However, sneak in for their lunch menu and you can spoil yourself with a very reasonable €45 two-course meal. You’ll need to be swift though, as lunch is only served 12 to 2pm and it fills up quickly!
If you like to stay organised and have a full day of exploring planned, you’ll want to grab lunch on the go. Don’t think that you’ll have to sacrifice quality though, quite the opposite in fact.
This Take a trip down South Richmond Street in Portobello and you’ll stumble upon The Eatyard. It’s a permanent street food market and one of Dublin’s best-kept secrets.
Here you’ll find fantastic flatbreads from Olea, award-winning burgers from Handsome Burger or a gloriously gothic black ice-cream cone from Milk Bar Ice-Cream.
This rag-tag group of vendors may be light on your wallet but they’re big on taste!
Hidden gems Dublin: what to see
Dublin is a city that is rich in history and has plenty to see, both modern and ancient. Whether you fancy visiting the iconic Temple Bar for a Guinness or feel like walking through the enormous Phoenix Park, you’ll not be stood twiddling your thumbs.
Trinity College Library
An absolute must-see for any bibliophile, the Trinity College Library dates back to 1592. It houses an impressive collection of over 6 million volumes of journals, manuscripts, maps and music, showcasing 400 years of academic development.
It’s not just the books that make this such a tourist hot spot. The architecture of the building itself is, in a word, stunning. The appropriately named Long Room features a 200-foot-long central walkway with endless bookshelves spanning over two floors. Plus, with marble busts of philosophers and a beautiful barrel ceiling, make sure you have your camera at the ready for this one.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
If the Trinity College Library wasn’t enough to widen your eyes, then make sure you head over to St Patrick’s Cathedral. One of two cathedrals in Dublin, St Patrick’s was built in honour of Ireland’s patron Saint and offers visitors breathtaking sights.
One of Dublin’s most popular visitor attractions, the cathedral offers guided tours to show you around the building’s 800-year history. Or, you’re just as welcome to take in the amazing sights yourself.
Hidden gems Dublin: sweet treats
If you’re looking for a tasty treat while exploring the streets of Dublin, or simply want to add the perfect finishing touch to your lunch, there are some lovely spots to enjoy some sugary goodness.
The Rolling Donut
If you’re not a local, this tasty hidden gem may have fallen under your radar. The city of Dublin is home to not one, but three Rolling Donut shops. There are even more further afield.
Head over to South King Street or towards the O’Connell Monument and treat your tastebuds to ingeniously inventive doughnuts. They’re lovingly prepared at this family business that has been operating for over 40 years.
The diverse menu includes simple classics like the vanilla glaze and more decadent options such as the Bailey’s bliss. There’s familiar faces like the Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Kinder Bueno doughnuts. Plus, a protein-packed peanut butter doughnut for gym bunnies and even vegan-friendly options, so there’s no excuse not to try one!
If you feel like indulging your fancy side, Ladurée on William Street South is the place to be. The famous French Patisserie has extended its reach to Ireland and brings with it a true taste of Paris.
The perfect spot for a quick coffee break, Ladurée offers an array of cakes, pastries and biscuits to treat your taste buds. The real star of the show, are the macaroons! Trust us when we say these macaroons are the best you’ll taste outside of Paris. You can even take them away with you in a beautiful gift box.
Lastly, don’t miss in Dublin…
With so much to try and squeeze into a single day trip, there are some things you’ll need to wait and see another time. There are some things though, that are simply too good to pass up. Here are a couple of our favourite things to see in Dublin that you should try to make time for:
If you’re interested in learning about Ireland’s turbulent history, this lesser known tourist destination is a living legacy. It’s a remarkable window into the past.
Having held some of the most famous political and military leaders in Irish history, visitors receive a dramatic and realistic insight as to what it was like to be confined between 1796 and 1924.
The prison offers a guided tour and exhibitions, giving you a fantastic look as to how Kilmainham Gaol operated and what role it had in Irish history. If it looks familiar, it could be due to the fact that many films including The Italian Job, The Whistle Blower and The Escapist were all filmed in this location.
It may not have the prestige of world-famous Madame Tussauds, but Dublin’s National Wax Museum is a good laugh. Walking through the museum, you’ll be greeted by some of Ireland’s top celebrities, including Father Ted, Connor McGregor and of course, Jedward.
The Time Vaults exhibit lets you experience Irish History from Viking invasions to the Good Friday agreement. Or you can scare yourself silly in the Chambers of Horror with some familiar, albeit frightening faces from pop culture.
There’s plenty of amazing experiences outside of the city too, if you’re up for an extra adventure. We visited County Wicklow – read about why you should too.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful trip or an opulent break away from home, Dublin has something for everyone. This guide of Dublin’s hidden gems is a great place to start when planning your day trip. But, the best way to experience what the city has to offer is to get yourself there and to start exploring.
If you’re now inspired to take a trip to the Emerald Isle, take a look at Stena Lineferries for a fun and relaxing way to travel. We’d suggest exploring more than just Dublin too – Kenmare and Killarney are a real treat!
Seeking an alternative for exploring the emerald Isle? Think about house sitting Ireland: find out more
Attending my fifth TBEX Future of Travel Media conference, I had the chance to also travel in Killarney and Kenmare in Ireland.
I produced a vlog on the experience to share so you can see highlights like seals, donkeys, history, nightlife, traditional dancing and much more.
Ireland is amazing! If you want to know more about TBEX and why you should go, press play, or search TBEX on this blog for learnings and adventures from over the past few years in Costa Brava, Athens, Stockholm and Dublin.
If you’ve been to TBEX or have questions drop us a line and say hi in the comments.
I’m presently hanging out at Dublin airport reflecting on my first travel blog conference experience. Appropriately the view outside of the floor to ceiling glass windows is all green: grass, trees and a fleet of Aer Lingus planes. The land of Guinness, leprechauns and lucky four-leaf clovers has really turned on the charm for me this October.
It’s not all about beer and mischievous little green men though; Dublin is a charismatic European city, brimming with stories, interesting old buildings and arts-based culture: poetry, writing, dance and song.
A refreshing difference from other sport-obsessed regions of the world. In fact, Dublin is one of only a few dubbed a UNESCO City of Literature.
Also, surely there must be an accolade for this being one of the happiest places in the world; or at least something that recognises the Irish as hysterically funny? Everything is a joke here − but in a good, laugh-your-ar$e-off kind of way. The people are what have made this trip for me, and honestly, I’m sad to leave.
I was here for the huge international TBEX travel blogging and media conference, and met an array of people from all around the world (although had the most fun with the Irish locals).
The flight from London set the tone of the trip, as I made one new friend – an English expat living in South Africa – a really interesting, enlightened woman named Patti.
She thought she might be boring me by discussing her psychic abilities, international flair, and understanding of the ‘Universe’, but no, I assured her we were obviously meant to be in seats next to each other.
She was excited to be meeting up with a new love – an Irish friend who after many years had turned into something more. She said he’s the funniest person she knows, which as I discovered seems to be a trait the Irish are born with.
The moment I walked out of the airport I was greeted with good humour. As I sought the correct coach line to wait in for a transfer to the city, I presented one driver with my e-ticket:
“Hi, I’m AirCoach,” I smiled, enquiring whether he was indeed with the company I’d booked with. He replied without a beat, “Hi I’m Graham, give me a hug!” It only worked because of his Irish charm and ‘favourite uncle’ persona, and it was indeed funny, so I thanked him for the kind welcome to Dublin.
He directed me to the correct line and as I wandered off, called out, “Miss you already.” How could I not feel welcome?
The opening night of TBEX was a blast.
Awesome drummers set the mood as we entered the famous Guinness Storehouse for a tour, food and of course, beverage sampling. My drink of the night was called a Black Velvet – a delectable mix of Extra Stout and Prosecco.
The days of TBEX learning and networking flew by, and it was a dream for this nerd girl from Australia to have the opportunity to meet and talk to the world’s most innovative travel and tech editors, journalists, bloggers, entrepreneurs and innovators.
The best part of the experience for me was to be able to meet and mingle with people I aspire to work with and/or be like. It’s a real buzz, and I’d encourage all of you to take an opportunity to attend an international conference covering topics of interest to you.
There’s nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing something like this. I’m a little shy but decided before I attended that I’d make the most of it, so I took a chance, introduced myself to new people, chatted, swapped business cards; I think I may even have scored a couple of friends and work leads. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too!
The TBEX team along with the Irish sponsors have to be congratulated on the outstanding job they did hosting, educating and inspiring all of us.
Most inspiring from the TBEX event (aside from Dublin itself) was probably Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market speaking about their passion for travel and how they have turned it into a business. They ran a beautiful exercise with us as a group.
Close your eyes. Think of the first travel experience that meant something to you. Think about it, savour it, remember it; what was it that you loved? How did it make you feel?
I was 19 or so, when my brother and I made the big (for us, anyway) journey across the pond on our own from Australia to America and Canada. It was to be five challenging, scary, amazing, beautiful weeks. In fact, the best of my life to that point.
I kept a diary of the experience, and to this day it remains the one article I’d save in a fire.
I’d not considered it before, but it’s not even the contents of the diary that I’d want to retain, more the memento of how I felt on and after that trip. I discovered a passion for travel and adventure. I finally got to realise the big world my parents always talked about; I felt enlightened, empowered, inspired.
As much as that was the single most important venture of my younger life, I didn’t have an opportunity to embark on another real life-changing travel adventure for ten years.
Things happen for a reason though, and travel later in life is where ‘life’ has really begun for me.
Dan and Audrey’s #closeyoureyes exercise actually brought a tear to my eye. What do you think of when you consider your first travel experience?
They described the “transformational power of travel” – how it changes us, but also has the capacity to change lives for the people in places we visit.
I love this description because there’s so much truth in it.
Travel Ireland – add to your bucket-list
Take a look at the video above to see where our Dublin Bus tour took us on a beautiful sunny day out in Ireland (hint: castles, mountains and coast)!
During TBEX we were introduced to the new must-do Ireland attraction: The Wild Atlantic Way, 2500km of coastline dotted with beaches, harbours, headlands and stunning viewing points – an exhilarating drive along the absolute edge of Western Europe. Need more encouragement? Check out ireland.com/wildatlanticway.
Welcome to Travel Live Learn! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London, along for the ride. Our most popular content here is about pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be.