Hiking in the Dublin Mountains

Matthew Elmore Merritt Dublin, Ireland


August 22, 2022

Of all the places I’ve been to in Ireland, I think my favorite place is Howth, which is a peninsula that has  tons of trails, all of which can be accessed by riding the DART train for 30 minutes from Dublin’s city center. The trails in Howth, nestled among the Dublin Mountains, are especially beautiful; hiking down the mountain to one of the small beaches, where you can watch seals poke their head up from the water, is a must-see when in Dublin. 

On my last weekend in Ireland, I organized a short hiking trip for my lab. We took the train from the Dart at the bottom of the mountain and hiked a couple kilometers to the top, where you can enjoy a nice meal or cup of hot chocolate at The Summit Inn. From there, we walked a half kilometer further to gain a better view of the lighthouse; there’s also a helicopter pad beside the lighthouse!

Hiking with my lab mates provided a valuable opportunity to hang out with the folks with whom I worked and became friends over the summer term. Additionally, the outing gave me an opportunity to reflect upon my study abroad experience and the many lessons I learned. Here are the best lessons I learned studying abroad.

  1. Ireland is a safe place, so don’t be afraid to explore with a group or go solo! 
  2. Cooking can be fun and meditative, and a great time to call your friends and family back home. I personally recommend chicken and lentils.
  3. Ireland has a robust, accessible public transit system . You can hop on a train and be on the western coast of Ireland within three hours!
  4. Many coffee shops’ wifi networks allow wifi calling.
  5. Don’t be afraid to go to a pub alone. Some of my most memorable experiences involved talking to strangers. 
  6. Although difficult at times, hiking can be accessed via public transit. Trips to Howth, Glendalough, and Galway were invaluable experiences and well worth the effort.
  7. You’ll grow as a person when abroad. Listen to your inner voice, which will at times ask you to explore  and at other times ask you to rest and reflect. 
  8. Take a brand new journal, and write in it when you feel compelled. It shouldn’t feel like a chore.

Ireland is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. The folks are super friendly and the landscape is relatively accessible. I’m grateful for the ways study abroad prepared me for medical school admissions while allowing me to chase my dreams. Though intimidating at times, studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you’ll cherish for a lifetime. Now get out there and explore!