There are almost as many churches in Dublin as there are pubs, and that’s a lot. You can hardly walk two blocks without running into a church; they’re often beautiful and often quite old. As a geographical reference point, even-number postcodes are the south side of the River Liffey and odd numbers are to the north. Directions are typically given by referencing landmarks rather than street numbers, but especially pubs (e.g., If you reach the Stag's Head, you've gone too far). It’s pretty funny.
Christchurch Cathedralis worth a visit. Beautiful 11thC Norman structure. Evensong is a lovely visit, with an excellent choir, as is Sunday afternoon service, even if you’re not religious. The cathedral sits on the original Norman settlement of Dublin.
St. Patrick’s Cathedralis a spectacular 13thC. building, though the original wooden church was 5thC. (none if it remains); the structure was added to over many centuries. It’s the burial place of several famous Irish figures, incl Jonathan Swift.
Trinity College libraryis one of the oldest and most prestigious in Europe. It holds many ancient texts, including the Book of Kells. The Long Room is breathtakingly beautiful. Definitely worth a visit.
It might be a surprise to hear this, but the Hop On Hop Offdouble-decker bus tours are quite good and informative. If you take one, sit on the top deck.
The Hugh Lane Gallery issmall and excellent, and includes Francis Bacon’s fascinating studio. Lots of 20thC. and contemporary Irish art.
The Little Museumtells the story of Dublin. A pretty special place.
Two tourist attractions worth considering are the Guinness Storehouseand the Jameson Distillery,in Dublin. The Guinness facility is a tour location; no whiskey is made there at the present time. Jameson Distillery produces whiskey. The story of Irish whiskey is political, but everything in Ireland is political.
Temple Bar sits behind the south quays (pronounced “keys”) of the River Liffey north of O’Connell Street, and is the heaving center of Dublin nightlife, which can be pretty crazy on a weekend, with lots of drinking and partying and messing about.
The Palace is a great, old school pub (since 1838; no TV’s, no piped-in music, and a charming “snug”) in heart of Temple Bar. It hosts Irish traditonal music upstairs that can be pretty great. Another good, un-modernized pub is Grogans (no website) on South William Street. The Irish craft beer scene is rich and is booming.
The Grand Canal is a lovely place to have a walk on a warm day. It runs some 80 miles from the docklands (Grand Canal Dock) west to where it joins the River Shannon, and boasts 43 locks. The canal comes in from the west of Ireland, and circumscribes the City Centre. Within Dubin, the canal passes through Portobello, a culturally interesting area where there’s a super popular, killer pub (mostly young folks) called the Bernard Shaw (there’s sometimes live music, so be forewarned). There are a few small, charming restaurants along the canal, and, of course, there are many pubs you can stumble into. And out of.
Stoneybatter, on the north side of the river, is a lively area, too. At the top of Capel Street, on the southern edge of Stoneybatter, is a tiny place called Mish.Mash, my favorite Dublin café.
DUBLIN RESTAURANTS can be good, though I estimate they’re 10-15 years behind the U.S., and 20 years behind the Bay Area. The Brother Hubbard restaurants, a Hipster-ish healthy food place with two locations, are good for any meal. Nothing fancy, but good. The Cake Café and Bretzel Bakery are good for morning coffee and nice breads and pastries. Elephant & Castle, of which there are several locations now, has an honest, good, American-style menu led by its famous Spicy Chicken Wings. Temple Bar is the original location. Delahunt is good, serving mainly Modern Irish food. I like two little Italian places on the north quay, Enoteca delle Langhe (+353 1 888 0834; no website) and il Fornaio Enoteca, both simple but yummy. A good, no nonsense gastropub is The Old Spot, on Bath Street. Magill, on Clarendon Street D2, is a lovely little shop that I frequented in the city centre, that features Irish and continental delicacies.
THE WEST COAST
The west of Ireland is stunningly beautiful, from Donegal all the way down to County Cork. Mayo, Clare, Kerry, are all movingly beautiful. It’s the Ireland of memory.
The Western Way is a series of hiking trails running from Sligo to Loch Corrib, in Co. Galway, with its charming waterfront and quay, and some good restaurants. Galway is worth a trip, as is West Cork. West Cork is a long trip, 2 hours’ drive west of Cork City. In Midelton, east of Cork City, a visit to the Jameson Distillery, who house several other important Irish whiskey distillers, is worthwhile. Don’t take the tour, jsut do a self-guided one that itself can be very informative.
Ballymaloe (bally-ma-LOO), in Shanagarry, near Midelton, is a nice stop for a stay, for lunch, for gifts, or for a pleasant country walk. Darina Allen, the head of the property, is called the “Alice Waters” of Ireland. Beyond the Ballymaloe property and worth a drive out is the lovely fishing village of Ballycotton, with its spectacular shoreline, cliff walk, and historic lighthouse. The Irish coast is a bit like northern California – cool, not very sunny, but a great walk and wander.
©2018 christopher lee