Dublin to Limerick


Our first day in Ireland was simple: pick up car rental, have a nap, drive to Limerick. We checked into our hotel, then went out in search of live music at an Irish pub!

Flight to Dublin

Our first overseas trip since our babymoon in 2019 has officially begun! We flew out of Halifax (feeling fortunate to miss the chaos at Pearson) to Dublin on WestJet at 10pm. I was quite tickled when the security staff said “You must travel often – you’re a professional packer!” when my camera got flagged for inspection. Go me, go!

The flight was short – just over 5 hours. We napped best we could, savouring the sunrise over the clouds when we awoke for breakfast. As we descended through the clouds, I was struck by how Ireland really did look like a patchwork quilt made with green and brown patches of all shapes, with trees marking the property lines like thick, rough green stitching.

Sunrise outside a plane window. A mug sits on a tray next to the window
Sunrise as we fly over the sea to Ireland

Arrival in Ireland

We travelled with carry-on only, so were able to head straight for Customs upon arrival. There was no line up at Customs and we were through in under 2 minutes!

Sixt Car Rental

Next, we went to pickup our car from Sixt who we always rent with overseas. They gave us a Nissan Note which was a real step down from our Toyota Corolla back home. All the presets were in Japanese and the programmed radio stations were for Tokyo! No cruise control, backup camera, or USB port – but at least it was a hybrid!

Rolling green hills beyond a curve in the road
Highway driving in Ireland

Highway out of Dublin

We were very impressed with the roads in Ireland! They have markers on the road itself in addition to regular signage to help you know which lane to be in.

Driving on left came to Matt quickly this trip. We found some Irish radio stations and marvelled at the scenery. We were blown away by the amount of picturesque countryside between Dublin and Limerick. Cute farms and cows in pastures were everywhere!

Old castle by water at low tide

The City of Limerick

We chose to stay our first night in Limerick as it was less than a 3-hour drive from Dublin and my internet research showed it had the best chance of catching live music on a Monday night on our route to the Ring of Kerry.

Limerick has a bit of a bad rep, most well-known as the setting for Angela’s Ashes. I was expecting something like St. John, New Brunswick but it was more gritty here! The city had its charm though.

Small boats moored at a dock with a bridge in the distance
Boats in Limerick

Exploring Limerick

We were hoping for an early check-in at our hotel, but the staff said there was no chance of that. So we went in search of lunch. The front desk staff recommended the Locke Bar overlooking the water and the cafe strip on Thomas Street. We went to Thomas Street and looked for a patio that was inviting but not too busy. We were surprised that most pubs here did not open until 4pm!

Interior of a restaurant. Booth seating and warm orange lighting
CoqBull Limerick


We settled on CoqBull. I scanned the menu for the cheapest mains and landed on mushroom pasta which sounded great! Matt got a burger and his first taste of Guinness of the trip. I had coffee and we were surprised by the quality of food and drink. It was great! The server was lovely too.

Old church and graveyard
St. Mary’s Cathedral

King John’s Castle & St. Mary’s Cathedral

With full bellies, we set out the city’s castle. We walked along the water, which was full of seagulls digging in the mud at low tide. We walked around the castle and then outside St. Mary’s Cathedral – two of the top tourist attractions.

The cathedral was founded in 1168 and the castle in 1210. It was interesting to see such old buildings just sitting there with the bus station and university practically right next to it!

Stone steps up to a large wooden door
Steps to the castle

Drinks & Live Music

Our main reason for choosing to stay in Limerick was the fact you had a good chance of live music on a Monday night. Our server at CoqBull recommended the Locke or Dolan’s, which he said had live music every odd Monday.

Dolan’s Pub

Dolan’s was the place I had read about during my online research and reason I’d booked the Clayton Hotel – it was a two minute walk away! However, when we walked over there after dinner, we found it closed! Apparently they had new hours and opened on Wednesdays now.

Storefront with a sign that reads the pub
Dolan’s Pub in Limerick

The Locke

We headed to the Locke next. There was indeed live music and even an Irish dancer, but the high school students performing looked bored as if they’d prefer to be anywhere else but here. The staff in general was pretty miserable and the customers appeared to be mostly tourists. It was nothing like the trad sessions we had enjoyed in the Isle of Skye!

We shared mushrooms on toast with a beef pie with mushy peas for dinner. The food was tasty and we enjoyed our meal. It was still early, so we asked our server if they could recommend somewhere a bit more lively but with character. She recommended the Locke’s sister pub (?) and the Red Hen.

We set our for the Red Hen, but it was more upscale than we wanted and gave off Russian vodka bar vibes. So, we did a Google search for pubs in the area and I chose Nancy’s as it looked like a cozy, traditional spot.

Seagulls fly a over a white metal bridge
Pedestrian bridge in downtown Limerick

Nancy Blake’s Pub

Nancy Blake’s was a cozy spot. The old timers were sitting inside and the young people were on the back patio. We chose a little room off to the side of the bar, which we had all to ourselves!

The bar just had one bartender on staff that night, a delightful young woman named Mary. She was friendly, genuine, and knowledgeable about the whiskies and beers on tap. Matt ordered Guinness at first, but when he asked for something similar but different, she recommended Beamish Irish Stout which he quite liked.

I gave her my price range and she let me smell and taste different Irish whiskies that we didn’t have back home. I usually take my whisky neat, but she recommended taking it with a bit of water, “Like the Irish do it!” she said. I had a great time and ordered three different whiskies over the course of the evening that I had never had before.

White hotel tower behind the ruin of a stone wall with a construction sign in the foreground
The Clayton Hotel as seen from Dock Street

The Clayton Hotel Limerick

We were staying at the Clayton, which boasted to be tallest hotel in Ireland. We had a lovely room on the 9th floor that overlooked the water. From our window we could see the bridge leading to the castle, the top of St. Mary’s, with rolling green hills in the distance past the city. The room itself was very comfortable and quiet with a full bathroom, temperature control, a sitting area, desk, blackout curtains and a firm bed.

We were in bed by 10pm, but I woke up at 2:30am and had trouble falling back asleep despite our comfortable, dark and quiet hotel room. I worked on my blog until 6:30am, then tried to sleep again. I was not tired at all, but managed to get a bit more sleep before our alarm rang at 8am.

Breakfast at the hotel was superb! I had a bit of everything at the buffet and was stuffed by the end – but everything was so yummy! There were sausages, baked beans, cooked tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, porridge, fruit smoothies, yogurt, cereals, and much more! The coffee was strong and they had Irish Breakfast tea too!

After breakfast, we checked out of our hotel and hit the road. My feet were quite sore from all the waking yesterday (blisters on both feet!) and looked forward to sitting down to a nice drive in the car.

Croissants and coffee on the windowsill with a skyline view of Limerick
View from our hotel room on the 9th floor

People Watching and Cars

Matt was struck by the amount of luxury and electric/hybrid cars in downtown Limerick, especially as this did not look like a wealthy city, at least the areas we saw. There was a Maserati used as an everyday car with a child’s seat in the back and the coveted electronic BMW passed by, which costs around $100,000. No Porsche SUVs though, which is the luxury vehicle of choice for wealthy families back home in Toronto – or Teslas for that matter.

There was a strong thug aesthetic among the people here, scowls and unhappiness. The men all looked like they were coming home from football practise and the young women were decked out in sports bras and leggings while older ladies donned track suits. However, the body types were very North American which made me think it was all fashion and not a strong workout culture in Ireland.

We kept seeing young women in ankle length wool skirts and sweaters with crests on them. They all had long straight hair and Matt thought there must be a Pentecostal sect in Limerick. I thought it was just what school uniforms looked like around here, as they varied in colour and tartan. After school hours, I saw one change out of her uniform in the park – into leggings and a lacey blue bra top no less. A Google search later confirmed my theory: it was the school uniform here.

Bicycle parked next to the door of a blue rundown building
Residential street in Limerick

Cost of Staying in Limerick

Are you planning a trip to Limerick and wondering how much to budget for? Here is how much we spent during our stay (€1 = $1.32 CAD).

Lunch at the CoqBull: $46.13
Dinner at the Locke: $64.97

(The meals are for 2 people and include drinks, but do not include tip as we left those in cash)

1 night stay with breakfast and parking included at the Clayton Hotel: $262.75

Tipping in Ireland

Expectations are the same as back home in Canada, but you need to tell the server what you want to tip when they come with the machine when paying by card. There are no prompts for tips on most credit card machines here.


We clocked in 19,200 steps and 14km on our first day in Ireland!