St. Stephens Green is an ideal place to take a romantic picnic, stroll and people watch, with a garden dedicated to poet W. B. Yeats and resplendent flowers blooming through the spring and summer. The medieval Christ Church Cathedral features working bells, soaring nave, stained glass windows and more decorative details and is home to the archbishop of Dublin. More romantic spots are on offer in Dublin’s many castles, including Dublin Castle and Malahide Castle.
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre has about one hundred shops including United Colors of Benetton, The Perfume Shop and The Donegal Shop as well as a food court. It is centrally located on Stephens Green West. For a more independent shopping experience, the Temple Bar area offers a weekly market selling food, books and clothes, or try The Cow’s Lane Designer Mart in Temple Bar for unique designer pieces.
The home of the Blarney Stone itself, Blarney Castle could almost be seen as the destination of pilgrimages for those wanting the ‘gift of the gab’ gained from kissing the Blarney Stome according to legend. Beautiful gardens and rock formations are also available to visitors of this castle, dating from 1446. Visit the early monasteries and churches amongst the beautifully rugged countryside of the Aran Islands, or visit the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed cluster of aroung 40,000 bassalt columns rising from the sea.
Irish history is particularly tumultuous, and events like the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Cromwell’s Conquest of Ireland, Penal Laws, Easter Rising and Civil War can be seen as contributing to contemporary Irish culture as well as recent events. James Joyce is worth a mention here of course, as one of Dublin’s best known authors and demonstrators of Ireland’s rich literary history, especially as much of his work featured many scenes set in real life locations around Dublin.
The National Gallery of Ireland is free to enter and houses the country’s greatest Irish and European art collections from between the fourteenth and twentieth centuries. George Bernard Shaw left a third of his collection to this gallery. For something more contemporary try the Irish Museum of Modern Art with regular temporary exhibitions alongside its permanent collection which includes Gilbert and George and Louise Bourgeois, as well as a bookshop and café and four outdoor trails available in the grounds.
The National Museum of Ireland is a great place to start for museums, with free entry to a wide array of artefacts relating to Archaeology, Decorative Arts and History, Country Life and Natural History. Some more specialised museums in Dublin include The National Leprechaun Museum and the National Wax Museum Plus, as well as the literary Dublin Writers’ Museum.
Although Ireland may not be well known for the quality of its cuisine, this makes it all the more enjoyable when you discover how good it can be. Pearl Brasserie was awarded best fine dining restaurant in Dublin and Ireland in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and is situated in the heart of Georgian Dublin. Its maze of cosy caves and almost private dining areas provide the ideally comfortable setting in which to enjoy impressively executed dishes such as Duo of Duck Foie Gras and Fondue of Spinach with Mushroom Ravioli and Truffle Oil.
Kids will just love captain America’s, with its Rock n Roll museum, lively music, cartoonish decor and visits from many Irish and International celebrities. Vegetarian options, salads and steak are available, but the real star of the show are the burgers. To contrast with this, The Hungry Monk is further away from the crowds and is a family run restaurant specialising in candlelit dinners for all the family.
Things to do
Ardgillen Castle was built in 1738 and features a secret door hidden amongst the bookshelves of the library. There are two well stocked coffee shops and a variety of outdoor pursuits including nature trails and picnic facilities. Ark Children’s Cultural Centre is recommended, mainly for the amount of good fun it provides. Its indoor theatre, outdoor amphitheatre, gallery and workshop host a variety of exhibitions and plays all created by children, for children.
Christchurch Hall Apartments are located in the vibrant, trendy area of Temple Bar and offer more private accommodation than a hotel, without lacking any of the service. The Morgan Hotel offers a luxurious yet chic, contemporary setting and is just a few blocks away from Trinity College, Grafton Street and shops, restaurants and nightlife. Facilities include a cocktail bar, rooftop garden and amazing outdoor spaces.
Dublin Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world, and a perfect example of eco-consciousness and consideration of animal welfare. In addition, the National Sealife Centre on Strand Road, Bray, displays a commendable focus on conservation as well as children’s education, and a wide variety of marine species is fascinating. Visit the Newman House and Traditional Farm to discover a cobbled farmyard with stables, hen coops, old farm machinery, plenty of varieties of animals, a huge golden coach in the stables and a Museum of Curiosities.
There is certainly no shortage of bars to visit in Dublin, in fact it may prove difficult to decide where to go first! The Church Bar and Restaurant is a tourist attraction in its own right, dubbed as Dublin’s ‘most unique establishment’ former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland which closed in 1964, and has been classified as a building of intrinsic historical interest.
The Temple Bar area is the home of a lively nightlife as well as being rich in culture and history. Gaiety, situated on King Street South, stands out from the masses of chart music clubs as by day it continues to be one of Dublin’s oldest theatres, while by night the many rooms are host to bands, DJs and films, and specialises in Latin and jazz music. The Globe is notable for its celebrity spotting possibilities, and is a trendy venue featuring eclectic music, food, foreign beers and even Wi-Fi.
Dublin makes an apt and popular choice for stag and hen dos due to the number of bars and pubs, as well as the variety of group activities on offer such as cocktail mixing lessons, pampering days, go karting or clay pigeon shooting. A visit to the Guinness Storehouse would be a great idea for those partial to a bit of the black stuff, as it consists of a building designed around a pint glass and holds a retail store, exhibition space, function rooms, restaurant and two bars. A tour includes a pint of Guinness, best enjoyed from the circular Gravity bar with spectacular views over Dublin.