Making the most of every second!  Despite the travel restrictions affecting Ireland during lockdown, US student Erin has made the most of travelling within her immediate environs in Dublin.  Erin, who is studying Social Media Communications at Dublin City University, wrote this blog whilst Ireland was in Level 5 Lockdown (Christmas 2020 to early May 2021)

The initial expectation of studying abroad is being able to travel and get a glimpse of different cultures and places you haven’t experienced before. My name is Erin and I became enthralled with the idea of studying in Ireland when I came here on a vacation with my dad in 2019. We visited Dublin, Galway, Killarney and Cork with many other stops in between. After that trip, I knew I wanted to see every site that Ireland has to offer. Although transitioning from New York City to Ireland in the middle of a pandemic hasn’t given me the freedom to travel as much as I would like to, coming here to study Social Media Communications at Dublin City University has become one of the best decisions I have ever made and I have tried to make the most of every second.

Switch up your priorities

While my plans were to venture up to see The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, go down to see The Rock of Cashel in Tipperary, visit the Aran Islands, and maybe drive the Wild Atlantic Way, COVID-19 has kept me close to my accommodation at DCU. While strict regulations have been put on travel, I have visited places in Dublin that I might not have prioritised visiting had the situation been different. 

If you need a list of must-see outdoor sites in county Dublin, I would recommend the following:

  • The Howth cliff path
  • Phoenix Park
  • Dublin Botanical Gardens
  • St. Stephen’s Green
  • St. Anne’s Park

On the cliff path at Howth, with the Baily Lighthouse in the background

Big and Beautiful:  St. Anne’s Park, Raheny

Out of all of these experiences, I would say that the trips my friends and I took to St. Anne’s Park, using the bike rental service “Bleeper Bike”, were my favourite so far. In order to use this service, you just download the app, transfer some money onto it and then look at the map to see where the nearest bike is to your location! I found it extremely easy to use and it is just €1 per hour! 

The main thoroughfare through the Park, heading for the sea

On our first visit to St. Anne’s Park, we biked in through the main path and visited the rose garden and watched the dogs play in the dog park. The scenery was beautiful and I was in awe of how big it was. On our way back to campus, we rode on the bike path on James Larkin Road right next to the water as the sun was setting. The next time we went to St. Anne’s Park, my friend wanted to take me to a farmer’s market that happens every Saturday from 9am to 5pm. When we arrived, I realised that it was bigger than I expected it would be. There were food carts, local businesses selling various items, and a produce market as well. Going in December, I bought a couple of Christmas gifts and we stuck around to check out the food options.  Pretty tasty!  

The Rose Garden in St. Anne’s Park – me with my ‘bleeper’ bike!

Create the best experience for yourself

Whilst I wish the situation were different and I was able to travel to places further away, the restrictions mean I have found sites like St. Anne’s Park, which I might not have visited had I not been confined to county Dublin. 

Initially I was nervous to come to Ireland during COVID-19 because of how it would affect my experience. At first I was disappointed in my inability to travel but ultimately I learned an important lesson. At the end of the day, we have the power to make any situation what we want it to be just by changing our expectations.