According to the Penn State Alumni Association, the Nittany Lions will be the first Big Ten Conference team to play internationally since 1993, when Michigan State sparred against Wisconsin in Tokyo for the regular season finale.
But Dublin has more history to speak of for some sports fans, who will travel to Ireland’s capital for the Croke Park Classic, featuring the Nittany Lions against the University of Central Florida Knights.
For those who threw down some money to travel to Ireland’s largest city, there are a variety of ways to soak in local culture.
Guinness is closely associated with the essence of Ireland, so the Guinness Storehouse is an obvious must-see in Dublin. The seven-story building allows sightseers to learn all about the history of Guinness, as well as the meticulous brewing process. At the completion of the self-guided tour, visitors are rewarded with a free pint of Guinness on the top floor, a circular room with glass walls overlooking the city.
Whiskey is a close second in famed Irish drinks. If beer is not up your alley, a visit to the Old Jameson Distillery is sure to be a worthwhile excursion. Guided tours last one hour and include a tutored whiskey tasting and a signature Jameson drink.
Dublin offers more than finely crafted drinks, however. Shoppers delight in Grafton Street, a wide, pedestrian-only street lined with souvenir stores, clothing shops and lively street performers. Grafton Street is a spectacle even non-shopaholics can enjoy simply by sitting at an outdoor cafe and people watching, listening to live music and soaking in the Irish culture.
Kilmainham Gaol is the ultimate Dublin destination for history buffs. Built in 1796, the jail has seen many deaths. Leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned there, and some executed by the British and, in 1923, by the Irish Free State. Getting tickets in advance is recommended to avoid waiting in a long line outside of the jail, potentially in the frequent Irish rain.
Ireland is famous for its excellence in beer-brewing (particularly Guinness), and Dublin is home to many of the country’s most historical and acclaimed pubs and restaurants.
The Arlington Hotel Temple Bar provides the quintessential Irish experience — rich food, strong beer, live music and Irish dancing. After dinner, an Irish band opens, creating an upbeat atmosphere that only grows stronger throughout the night. When the band takes a break, the step dancing begins. The bar is open until 11:30 p.m., so for the night owls, an evening at The Arlington might be followed up with a beer (or two) at The Brazen Head.
The Brazen Head is Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198 and is located in the heart of Dublin. The pub’s history includes more than just its age; author James Joyce was known to frequent The Brazen Head and mentioned the pub in his novel “Ulysses.” Other notable patrons were Jonathan Swift, author of “Gulliver's Travels,” and Robert Emmet. Although it is unconfirmed, the myth that Robin Hood enjoyed drinks at the Brazen Head is a favorite story among locals.
Fire Restaurant and Lounge is the place to be for dinner. “It has great energy, atmosphere and food,” John Anthony, the founder and CEO of Anthony Travel Inc. (the agency organizing the game), said. “Padraic O’Kane, the proprietor, knows how to host the big events.”
Anthony also recommended Leo Burdock’s. Fish and chips are an Irish staple, and Burdock’s is the local favorite for all Dubliners. August 28 will mark its 100th year in business.
Another Irish favorite can be found at Pieman Cafe which has “the best pot pies,” Anthony said. A common favorite is the beef and Guinness pie, topped with gravy.
Outside of Dublin
As exciting as the streets of Dublin are, an escape to the breathtaking countryside is worth a drive. About 40 minutes outside of the city is Newgrange, an ancient monument in County Meath. It was built around 3200 BC, during the Neolithic period, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The monument is a large mound of earth and rocks with a narrow passageway that leads to a central chamber. While there is no confirmed purpose of Newgrange, it is thought to have a spiritual meaning. The chamber is aligned with the rising sun so that on the winter solstice, light fills the room.
The South Wall and Poolbeg Lighthouse are only a bus ride and short trek from the city centre. A refreshing walk along the wall will lead you to the Dublin Bay and further out, on a clear day, the red Poolbeg Lighthouse is visible. With the Wicklow Mountains and the Hill of Howth in the background, it is a perfect setting for a picnic or scenic stroll.
Guide to Irish slang
Learn to use these five words and phrases, and all the locals will wonder where the American accent came from.
“Craic” (pronounced crack): Often used with the definite term, the craic, it is used to describe entertainment and enjoyable conversation. “What’s the craic?” means, “What’s up? How are you?”
“Sham”: Typically used to refer to a male friend, interchangeable with the American term “dude.”
“Yoke”: A word used to name something instead of its proper name, similar to “thing.”
“Acting the maggot”: Used to describe someone who is playing/messing around.
“Bucketing”: Raining heavily (as it is likely to do at least once a day).