It’s hard to find a city as convivial as Dublin.
Across the Ha’penny Bridge, there’s a palpable excitement in the cobbled lanes of the riverside quarter. Trad folk music echoes from a lengthy (and equally legendary) procession of pubs, cosy, inviting, and filled with smiling faces; Dubliners are an affable bunch, who relish chatting to visitors. Amongst pretty Georgian townhouses, riverside walks, grand revivalist college buildings and historic streets, there’s a character to the city – one you can get to know in well under two hours from all British airports. Between hearty Irish eats and indie street-food hangouts, a stout and singalong or cocktail with a view, Dublin’s repertoire is a diverse one; should you feel you need more, one of the city’s true beauties is its proximity to gorgeous outdoor destinations. Nestled between mountains and sea, a half-hour train can whisk you to beautiful seaside towns before returning to the electric draw of this spirited city.
Literary Pub Crawl
It’s one thing embarking on a pub crawl in Dublin; quite another to do so under the proviso of checking-in at the city’s literary haunts. Sharing a whiskey with Joyce, Yeats, Wilde – well, the whole affair is now simply far more sophisticated.
The Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub and filled with centuries of radical history, was supposedly Jonathan Swift’s favourite haunt; his irreverent satire probably made for excellent pub chat. Next, in the footsteps of Joyce’s Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom, off to Davy Byrne’s. Joyce drank here, with the place full on Bloomsday – gorgonzola sarnies and burgundy all round.
Neary’s was a second home to poet and playwright Brendan Behan in the 50s, alongside modernist novelist Flann O’Brien. The latter could also be caught in Oliver St John Gogarty, drinking with fellow poet Patrick Kavanagh. Naturally, both would also frequent Palace Bar, alongside Brendan Behan and others.
A last tipple before a tipsy walk to bed; Toner’s beckons. Yeats was no fan of pubs, but Toner’s was clearly to his liking as he often stopped by for a sherry; Bram Stoker of Dracula fame was also a stalwart regular. The dark wood interior and heavy stone floor makes Toner’s an irresistible boozer for a swift pint.
Dublin is brimming with stories that stretch back centuries. Start at the grand Georgian hulk of Trinity College and make for the Old Library. The Long Room is a breathtaking architectural ode to learning, a vast, cavernous space that holds, in towering shelves, the oldest of the library’s treasures. Here, you’ll catch a fleeting glimpse at the 9th-century Book of Kells, one of the most important medieval manuscripts in the world.
For a further glance into Ireland’s past, don’t miss the National Museum; specifically the Archaeology Museum. Magnificent gold hordes and Viking relics await, but stretching back even further are some remarkably macabre bog bodies; dating from the Iron Age, their incredibly preserved remains whisper stories of kingship and feuds from millenia ago.
If you like that kind of gruesome thing, do not miss the crypt at St. Michan’s Church. Here, mummies spill from their rotting coffins. Meet the 800-year-old crusader ready to shake your hand, the man with no hands, and the nun. Bram Stoker visited as a child and, well, the connection is pretty plain. Morbid fascinations aside, the rest of Dublin continues to share its past. From the famous Guinness Brewery to the story of Irish independence at the Kilmainham Gaol, don’t miss your view into Dublin’s past.
What’s for tea?
The city’s dining scene is thriving. Even traditional Irish dishes have enjoyed a renaissance of late; creative chefs are reinventing the flavours of the land with contemporary flourishes, at lauded restaurants like The Pig’s Ear, Forest & Marcy and more. Just like the city itself, the food scene is equally diverse; around Camden Street you’ll find a cheaper selection of foodie hotspots, from hot Asian cool at Neon (with self-pour whippy machine to finish) and eclectic (bargain) dishes at Green 19, to middle-eastern favourites and brunch spots galore. If that hasn’t stumped your appetite, don’t miss an afternoon of perusing the Temple Bar Food Market.
One thing that never fails to impress is how well-rounded a trip to Dublin can be. Hopping on the local DART trains can whisk you off to the most beautiful coastal destinations, a stone’s throw from the city’s bustling centre. Head along the coast and find treasures at Blackrock Market, or make for the beach at Killiney, with gorgeous views from the train to boot. Dalkey is nearby, a wonderfully charming spot that remains a favourite of a-list celebs and savvy travellers. Howth is equally as pretty, with a fishing heritage that translates to the dining table, plus irresistible walking trails to while away the afternoons. And that’s just the start; the coastline and mountains around Dublin are fantastic for exploring, with most train journeys just over a half hour.
Sponsored article in collaboration with Tourism Ireland.